The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
FORMER MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

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Joint Media Release

Joint statement by Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Alexander Downer and New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Phil Goff

FA94 / 25 June 2002

Praise for International Peace Team in Solomon Islands

The Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer, and the New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Phil Goff, have praised the work of the International Peace Monitoring Team (IPMT) to Solomon Islands which completed its 20-month deployment today.

The Australian-led IPMT was deployed as a neutral international presence in support of the Townsville Peace Agreement (TPA) signed in October 2000 and included police from Tonga, Cook Islands and Vanuatu, in addition to Australian and New Zealand personnel.

"We congratulate all those men and women who served with the IMPT for a job well done in successfully supporting home-grown efforts to end ethnic conflict in Solomon Islands especially through the collection and containment of illegally held weapons," said Mr Downer and Mr Goff.

"Their achievements, in support of the work of individuals and institutions in Solomon Islands, also made an important contribution to community confidence-building and the restoration of peace."

The Ministers highlighted the IPMT's recent work in disposing of some 2000 weapons surrendered into its custody as another important step towards building peace and stability in Solomon Islands.

"The departure of the IPMT is based on a joint desire to deliver Australian and New Zealand assistance in ways which more directly address the evolving situation in Solomon Islands," the Ministers said.

"The IMPT has played a valuable role in supporting the TPA and helping Solomon Islands end ethnic fighting but other serious challenges remain.

"A key focus of Australia and New Zealand assistance will now be to provide increased support to strengthen Solomon Islands' capacity to deal with the major law and order and economic challenges it faces.

"The IPMT does not have a mandated role in either of these areas and its departure reflects the changed circumstances on the ground in Solomon Islands.

"The end of the IPMT deployment does not in any way reflect a lessening of Australia and New Zealand's firm commitment to support Solomon Islands' efforts to address its own problems."

Media enquiries: Chris Kenny (Ministerial) 02 6277 7500 / Julie McDonald (Departmental) 02 6261 1555


Background

The International Peace Monitoring Team (IPMT) was an unarmed and neutral organisation which numbered some 50 personnel at five team sites (three on Guadalcanal and two on Malaita) and a Headquarters based at Henderson on the outskirts of Honiara. The IPMT was established in November 2000 at the request of the signatories to the Townsville Peace Agreement (TPA).

The central role of the IPMT under the TPA was to support the indigenous Solomon Islands Peace Monitoring Council (PMC). The IPMT worked closely with the PMC on confidence-building programs in towns and villages affected by the 1998-2000 ethnic dispute in Solomon Islands which was based in the provinces of Guadalcanal and Malaita. The IPMT was also mandated to receive and monitor the safe containment of arms surrendered in accordance with the TPA and to monitor and report to the PMC on implementation of the TPA.

During its deployment to Solomon Islands, representatives from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs, AusAID, Australian and New Zealand Defence Forces, Australian Federal Police, New Zealand Police and Australian Department of Defence served with the IPMT. A number of police personnel from Cook Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu and several Commonwealth members also participated in the IPMT.


Local Date: Tuesday, 07-Jan-2014 10:29:33 EST

 

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