No quick exit for RAMSI: Special Coordinator reassures Business Community

RAMSI is working closely with Solomon Islands to ensure confidence is maintained as the mission gradually transitions its programs and operations after eight years in the country, RAMSI Special Coordinator, Nicholas Coppel said today.

Addressing the Third Australia Solomon Islands Business Forum in Brisbane, Mr Coppel said it was important that RAMSI’s transition be handled carefully to ensure that the very real gains achieved were not undermined.

“Our success to date and in the long term is dependent on government, business, the community and donors feeling safe and able to operate free from intimidation.

The key to a successful transition will be the maintenance of confidence, he said.

“Not in RAMSI itself, but in the security environment and in the management of the economy,” Mr Coppel told the more than 100 business and government officials present at the Forum.

“RAMSI’s transition is not a mad rush to some pre-determined end point, it is a process, and it has a way to go yet,” he said.

RAMSI, and other donors, must continue to focus on building the capacity and capability of Solomon Islands in the areas we have always focused: law and order, economic management and good governance.

“The greatest risks to success is that of RAMSI leaving too soon, or staying too long,” he said.

Reviewing the progress made in the Solomon Islands over the past eight years, including a return to peace and security, economic growth and the strengthening of public institutions, Mr Coppel outlined how the mission’s transition will impact on RAMSI’s Development Assistance, and security component.

There was a need to move beyond technical assistance, which focuses more on individuals to a focus on the strengthening of the nation’s institutions themselves he said.

“How we provide assistance needs to change from that which is needed in a post-conflict situation to that which is appropriate to a long term development strategy.”

Similarly the focus in policing will be continued capacity development and specific skills training.

“Transition is about shifting the focus of RAMSI’s Participating Police Force from supporting frontline policing to capacity development of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force,” Mr Coppel said.

“Instead of everyday policing, more of the police we deploy will have specialist skill sets and be engaged in higher level capacity development activities.

“This will require fewer, but more highly skilled, RAMSI police,” he said.