Development Aid for Reparations in the Solomon Islands

Nicole Dicker

To date there has been no comprehensive program for reparation for Tensions victims in Solomon Islands. Rather, from 2000 to 2003, the Solomon Islands Government (SIG) implemented what turned out to be an entirely unsuccessful monetary compensation scheme for some aggrieved by the ongoing conflict. The scheme has been found to have been marred by extensive corruption and misappropriation of funds, and many Tensions victims did not receive any compensation (TRC Report 2012: 299). This compensation scheme was funded through foreign aid. More recently, the Solomon Islands Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) recommended the implementation of a Comprehensive Reparation Plan (CRP) for the healing of victims of gross human rights violations suffered during the Tensions (TRC Report 2012: 752-765). In making this recommendation, the TRC called on international development partners for support (TRC Report 2012: 758). Yet the SIG has not yet commenced implementation of the CRP, nor have international development agencies provided development aid for this.

This chapter assesses the possibilities for development aid to be used for reparations in the Solomon Islands. It considers the role of international development agencies in providing official development assistance (ODA) for reparations and what effective reparations aid for the Solomon Islands

N. Dicker (*)

PhD Candidate, Sydney Law School, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia

© The Author(s) 2017

R. Jeffery (ed.), Transitional Justice in Practice, DOI 10.1057/978-1-137-59695-6_8

might look like. The term ‘reparation’ is used in this chapter to describe the right of victims to redress for serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. Reparation may go some way to recognise and address harm suffered by victims. In international law, reparation can take the following forms: restitution, compensation, rehabilitation, satisfaction, and guarantees of non-repetition (UN Basic Principles 2006; Evans 2012). A comprehensive reparation program is one that involves a mixture of these forms of reparations afforded to victims, according to the nature and gravity of the harm. The term ‘development aid,’ used interchangeably with ODA, foreign aid, and aid, may be understood according to its objectives of ‘alleviating poverty and human suffering and of improving the human condition’ (Sarkar 2009: xvi). The definition of ODA of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is instructive: assistance for ‘the promotion of economic development and welfare of developing countries’ (2008: 1).

The analysis of the chapter is derived from the recognition that in many parts of the world, victims of grave breaches of human rights seldom receive adequate reparation for the wrongs they have endured (Lutz & Reiger 2009: 171). This has certainly been the reality for victims of the Tensions in the Solomon Islands (TRC Report 2012: 299). Arguments put forward in this chapter are pinned to the legal right of victims of gross of international human rights law and serious violations of international humanitarian law to receive reparation for serious harm suffered. This right exists in international law and in the domestic law of the Solomon Islands.1 Additional to the legal bases for reparations, there are moral, socio-political, and policy dimensions that make reparations important and so warrant consideration, to be explored in this chapter.

Yet internationally, it seems that reparations aid has generally not been a common area and focus for development assistance. Even within the transitional justice sphere, reparations have tended to attract comparatively less attention of aid agencies than other transitional justice mechanisms such as human rights prosecutions, truth commissions, and institutional reform. Roht-Arriaza and Orlovsky (2009) as well as Segovia echo this finding: Segovia explains that reparations tend not to be given priority in the national and international agendas of transitional justice, whereby truth-seeking and prosecutions ‘receive more attention’ (2006a: 651).2 Moreover, there is an obvious knowledge gap in this space: where international development agencies have supported reparations, there has been limited critical analysis of this. The phenomenon of reparations aid is understudied: there is limited relevant scholarly literature, and development actors seem not to have systematically confronted the topic.

To this end, the chapter identifies steps that international development agencies might take to guide and enhance the effectiveness of their development aid for reparations. Drawing on both academic literature and findings from socio-legal fieldwork research in the Solomon Islands,3 it suggests approaches for effective development practice. The analysis is premised on the notion that international development agencies may play a role in promoting and precipitating the establishment of reparations programs in addition to supporting their implementation. The overarching intention is to understand how and the degree to which effective reparations aid leads to more effective reparations and so greater opportunities for the healing of countries, communities, and individuals afflicted by atrocity.

This chapter examines the challenges associated with fulfilling the TRC’s recommendation for reparations, and how development aid may help. It argues that reparations are the right of Tensions victims and they matter for the healing of victims. For the Solomon Islands, international development agencies have an important role to play in aiding reparations, though the effectiveness of this development aid is key. The chapter is structured as follows: after the introduction, the first section of the chapter begins by providing a definition of reparations, their forms, legal basis, and the moral, social, and political reasons for instituting them. It then turns to the place of reparations in the study and practice of transitional justice before detailing a theoretical rationale for using development aid to support reparations. The second section discusses the experiences of the Solomon Islands with reparations and reparations aid so far. It involves a critical analysis of reparations aid, applied to the Solomon Islands, and concludes by identifying steps that international development agencies might take to guide and enhance the success of their reparations aid.

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