The Process of Peace: A Critical Reflection on the Community Peace and Restoration Fund in the Solomon Islands
Journal of Peacebuilding and Development
The Community Peace and Restoration Fund was established to provide a peace dividend to alienated Solomon Islands communities. This article reflects critically on how the Fund engaged with these communities and its relative success in meeting key peacebuilding indicators. The Fund increased equitable and equal access to resources and contributed to the rebuilding of associational life, utilising peacebuilding methodologies to enhance its community engagement processes. However, the Fund was
... r, the Fund was less successful on a number of fronts, particularly in its interaction with government structures at meso and macro levels. The article analyses why the Fund was so successful at local-level community peacebuilding but failed to capitalise on opportunities at the macro level. * 36 36 36 36 36 J o u r n a l o f P e a c e b u i l d i n g & D e v e l o p m e n t The Fund adopted the 'Do No Harm' principles and drew from insights in Mary Anderson's 'Local Capacities for Peace' project (DNH/LCP). The 'Do No Harm' principles provided a guide for engagement and have encouraged an active and mindful analysis of the distribution of aid -one which identifies how best to situate projects so that they do not exacerbate existing tensions or create new ones. The principles also recognise that although conflict will have disrupted patterns of interaction, there will still be underlying 'connectors' -those people, systems, institutions and shared values that prevail and that keep people connected (Anderson 1999). All PCs were trained in DNH/LCP methods, and were expected to conduct regular 'Do No Harm' analyses to ensure that the proposals received from communities were adhering to the general principles. This case study critically reflects on the achievements of the Fund by examining the processes used to promote peace at the local and national level. It analyses the extent to which CPRF's process and activities supported and implemented key recovery and peacebuilding strategies and activities by investigating four interlinked questions: " How did the process by which CPRF delivered its outputs contribute to preventing conflict or building peace? " How did the outputs of CPRF contribute to preventing conflict or building peace? " To what extent did CPRF mitigate the consequences of the conflict? What effect did this, or CPRF directly, have on mitigating the underlying causes? The article argues that the Fund addressed many of the consequences, and some of the causes, of the conflict by concentrating on engaging communities in locally run processes that contributed to building peace at a micro and meso level. It was able to do so because the processes used to engage communities in the delivery of its outputs were considered important, and were based on DNH/LCP methods. However, the article also argues that the extension of the DNH/LCP methodology to the strategic level of the Fund led to the decision not to support any income-generation activities across the whole of the Solomon Islands for almost four years. This decision meant that CPRF activities maintained a focus on the building of infrastructure during this time span, which led to considerable tensions with government agencies as they began to function again. Finally, although the Fund contributed to peacebuilding at the micro level, it remains difficult to measure how this translated into macro-level peacebuilding processes. This can be partly attributed to the fact that a clearly defined national-level peace process was absent during the time of CPRF engagement.