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Title: The Trouble with RAMSI: Reexamining the Roots of Conflict in Solomon Islands
Authors: Hameiri, Shahar
Keywords: Solomon Islands
failed state
ramsi
state capacity
conflict
show 2 moregovernance
patronage

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LC Subject Headings: Oceania -- Periodicals.
Issue Date: 2007
Publisher: University of Hawai'i Press
Center for Pacific Islands Studies
Citation: Hameiri, S. 2007. The Trouble with RAMSI: Reexamining the Roots of Conflict in Solomon Islands. The Contemporary Pacific 19 (2): 409-41.
Abstract: While the debate that has followed the intervention by the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) has centered on the suitability of the failed state label to Solomon Islands, I argue that this debate is misdirected because the concept of state failure itself is accepted uncritically. Examining what is meant by state failure is crucial, because (a) it has assumed an almost commonsensical mantle, which obscures its particular political and ideological underpinnings; and (b) it has considerable conceptual limitations that render it a problematic framework for explaining the roots and possible trajectories of the conflict in Solomon Islands. State failure is essentially a descriptive category with limited explanatory capacity, grounded in a depoliticized and ahistorical theorization of institutions, state, and society. At its core is an unhelpful preoccupation with state capacity as measured against a hypothetical legal-rational good-governance model. Conflicts are understood in this framework as the result of poor governance or recalcitrant social forces. ramsi, consequently, has sought to strengthen the institutional capacity of Solomon Islands as the key to confl ict resolution as well as a preventative long-term peace-building initiative. In contrast, I argue that unless we develop a clearer understanding of the causes and dynamics of conflict, RAMSI’s state-building approach is likely to exacerbate rather than alleviate tensions in Solomon Islands. This approach involves a shift in emphasis away from the current fixation on institutional capacity audits associated with the failed state concept, toward a more constructive theorization of the historically contingent relationship between changing patterns of economic development and social conflict.
URI/DOI: http://hdl.handle.net/10125/14019
ISSN: 1043-898X
Appears in Collections:TCP [The Contemporary Pacific ], 2007 - Volume 19, Number 2



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