Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer
6 November 2000
Solomon Islands Peace Monitoring Team
I am pleased to announce that Australia will lead an International Peace Monitoring Team (IPMT) to Solomon Islands, responding to the call for such a team in the Townsville Peace Agreement of 15 October 2000.
The role of the IPMT will be to support the indigenous Solomon Islands Peace Process under the aegis of the Peace Monitoring Council. Its main tasks will be supervision of the surrender of weapons, regular inspection of the stored weapons, confidence-building within affected Solomon Islands communities, and reporting to the Peace Monitoring Council. The monitors will be a completely neutral, unarmed group deployed at the invitation of all the main parties to the ethnic tension.
The International Peace Monitoring Team will be led by my Department, in the person of an experienced diplomat, Mr Simon Merrifield. The initial deployment will comprise 35 Australians and 14 New Zealanders. The monitors will be drawn from the Australian Federal Police and civilian public servants from DFAT, Defence and AusAID, with some logistic support provided by the Australian Defence Forces. The first IPMT members are already on the ground, preparing for the arrival later this week of the rest of the group. The full rotation of 49 will be in Solomon Islands by early December.
Australia has played a significant role in bringing the parties involved in the Guadalcanal conflict to the negotiating table, not only in Townsville, but also in several rounds of peace talks within Solomon Islands. We therefore have a particular interest in assisting with the implementation of the Townsville Peace Agreement and we will be helping the Solomon Islands peace process as much as we usefully can.
I am delighted that work on implementing the Townsville Peace Agreement is moving so quickly, and that Australia is able to continue its support for this process through the IPMT and other bilateral and multilateral assistance.
James Baker (Ministerial) 02 6277 7500
Matt Francis (Departmental) 02 6261 1555