The Solomon Islands have explosive remnants of war (ERW) left from fighting between Japan and the USA during World War II, over 75 years ago. 

Since the end of the War, sporadic UXO clearance has been undertaken, including through Operation Render Safe, a joint clearance programme between the armed forces of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the USA. For the last eight years, the US-based Golden West Humanitarian Foundation has been working with the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) to train a police explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) team. This operation focuses on heavily contaminated areas on the island of Guadalcanal.

The GICHD received a request from the Government of the Solomon Islands to support the management of the UXO sector, and with funding from Australia, the Centre started a project to help the Government strengthen the coordination and regulation of the UXO sector.

As a result, the first ever National UXO Coordination Workshop was held in Honiara, Solomon Islands in August 2017. It was hosted by the Ministry of Police, National Security and Correctional Services (PNSCS) and facilitated by the GICHD. Forty-three people attended the workshop, including officials from the Ministry of PNSCS, other relevant Government ministries, Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF), NGOs, local and international commercial companies, and representatives from international organisations and foreign governments. The meeting was opened by the Minister of PNSCS, the Honourable Moses Garu and the Australian Deputy Head of Mission, Mr Michael Hassett.

Key Outcomes agreed at the workshop:

  • Ownership to be exerted by the Solomon Islands Governement on the UXO issue, which involves police and many ministries
  • Creation of a new piece of legislation (a ‘UXO Act’) to regulate the UXO sector and set out responsibilities and priorities
  • Designating a focal point Ministry and establishing a Government coordination mechanism
  • Develop a consolidated UXO Action Plan and National UXO Standards
  • Undertake a national survey to determine the extent of the UXO threat
  • Address specific issues related to the accreditation of UXO operators, liability issues, training requirements for the RSIPF, a national UXO data-base and dynamite fishing.

Over the next few months two more workshops will be conducted by the GICHD. The first will review and consider a draft UXO Policy and Action Plan in Honiara in November. The second will be more technical, involving drafting and reviewing National UXO Standards. It will be held in early 2018.

Publication date : 24 October 2017