Australasia 2003: Policing the Southwest Pacific
In 1998 Papua New Guinea requested that Australia and New Zealand supervise the peace process in Bougainville, part of a greater trend as the two nations found themselves increasingly involved in maintaining peace in the Southwest Pacific after the withdrawal of Britain and the end of the Cold War. In the following years Australia led interventions to help secure the independence of East Timor from Indonesia and assist in restoring order in the wake of unrest in the Solomons.
? Jul 1997–? ?? 1999 Asian Financial Crisis▲
Starting in Thailand with the collapse of the Thai baht, a financial crisis spread across the ‘tiger’ economies of East and Southeast Asia in the late 1990s. The biggest impact was on Indonesia, South Korea, and Thailand, but Hong Kong, Laos, Malaysia, and the Philippines were also deeply affected. The crisis ended about a decade of growth in the region and put pressure on the economies of the Pacific Rim.
30 Apr 1998–23 Aug 2003 Peace Monitoring Group▲
In an attempt to resolve the conflict on Bougainville Island, Papua New Guinea (PNG) requested that Australia and New Zealand provide a monitoring group to oversee the ceasefire there. On 30 April 1998 Australian, New Zealand, Fijian, and Ni-Vanuatu civilian and defence personnel making up the Peace Monitoring Group (PMG) arrived on the island, taking over from the New Zealand Truce Monitoring Group already there. Although the group was unarmed, logistical support was provided by the Australian and New Zealand armed forces. In June 2002 PNG granted autonomy to Bougainville, helping stabilize the situation and allowing the PMG to withdraw the following year.
4–20 Sep 1999 East Timorese crisis▲
After 78.5 percent of voters chose independence from Indonesia in the East Timorese independence referendum of 30 August 1999, violence erupted in East Timor. Anti-independence paramilitary groups attacked people and set fires in the capital of Dili, prompting foreigners to flee the country and tens of thousands of East Timorese to take to the mountains. In response to Western condemnation of the violence, Indonesia agreed to withdraw its troops from East Timor and accept an international peacekeeping force in its stead.
20 Sep 1999–28 Feb 2000 International Force for East Timor▲
Australia organizes and led the International Force for East Timor (INTERFET) in accordance with United Nations Resolution 1264 to restore peace and security in East Timor after the violence following its vote for independence from Indonesia. INTERFET secured the country over September and October 1999, passing control of operations to the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor on 28 February 2000.
19 May–27 Jul 2000 2000 Fijian Coup▲
On 19 May 2000 hardline i-Taukei nationalists led by George Speight entered the Parliament buildings of Fiji and captured most of the elected government of Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry—a Fijian of Indian descent. With the PM held hostage, President Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara attempted to assert authority and declare a state of emergency but resigned—possibly under force—on 29 May and was replaced by a military administration under Commodore Frank Bainimarama. After over a month’s standoff between the rebels and the military, Speight was granted immunity and a new, more ‘nationalist’, government was put in place, leading to the freeing of the hostages. However, the coup was denounced later that year and many of the rebels, including Speight, were arrested.
20 May 2002 Democratic Republic of East Timor▲
With the end of the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor, the Democratic Republic of East Timor became an internationally recognized independent state under President Xanana Gusmão. The United Nations Mission of Support to East Timor was established on the same day to help provide security, which it did until wound down on 20 May 2005.
24 Jul 2003–? Sep 2013 Regional Assistance Mission to Solomons▲
Following unrest largely caused by land alienation problems, the Solomon Islands Government requested international aid to restore stability. In response, six members of the Pacific Islands Forum – Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Tonga, and Samoa – agreed to deploy 2,200 police and military forces in the islands as part of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI). After a decade of providing security and with the situation stabilized, the RAMSI forces were withdrawn in late 2013.