The power of friends: The Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands
This article analyzes the power and legitimacy of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI), explaining why local actors chose to comply and cooperate with the operation in its crucial first year. It argues that, to be effective, peace operations require the compliance of local populations, and finds that RAMSIâ€™s ability to shape the attitudes, incentives and interests of local actors was determined by the relationship between its three currencies of power: coercion, inducement and legitimacy. Focused on the exercise of power by RAMSI, this article enables much-needed analysis of the local dimensions of peace operations and affords serious consideration to processes of local legitimation. Within the local realm, the case of Solomon Islands provides three important insights on the power and legitimacy of peace operations. First, the design and implementation of RAMSIâ€™s communications strategies were central to its ability to exercise coercive and inducive power and, crucially, to legitimize its power relationship with local populations. Second, the manner in which RAMSI exercised authority affected local perceptions about its legitimacy, independent of the operationâ€™s outcomes. Third, the quality of treatment people received from RAMSI was influential in their decisions to comply and cooperate with the operation. This suggests that carefully examining the way that peace operations and local people interact can help to identify the determinants of an operationâ€™s effectiveness.
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