Advertisement

Constitutionalism and Customary Laws in Solomon Islands

Conference paper
  • 232 Downloads
Part of the Ius Comparatum - Global Studies in Comparative Law book series (GSCL, volume 41)

Abstract

Constitutionalism in Solomon Islands is dominated by the written Constitution, which imports a Westminster system and the common law tradition. However, as in other jurisdictions where customary communities are strong, constitutionalism involves more than state institutions and mechanisms. At independence, Solomon Islands proclaimed an allegiance to custom in its Constitution. As a consequence of this, and its colonial history, it has a plural legal system wherein State laws co-exist with customary laws. In this context, the challenge for the idea of constitutionalism may come not only from international developments, but also from the domestic sphere. This Chapter argues that, rather than being challenged by limits imposed at an international or supranational level, governmental power is being challenged by local initiatives designed to promote the authority of traditional leaders and the customary laws which they promulgate. It commences with some background on Solomon Islands and an overview of its systems of law and government to give context to the discussion. It then proceeds to explore the balance of relations in different spheres of positive law, both generally and in respect of judicial review, freedom of contract, and the hierarchy of norms. Discussion then moves to the dynamics of the relationship between different aspects of positive law. The place of international law in Solomon Islands, the approach of legal actors, resolution of conflicts and transconstitutional dialogue, and evolution of approach to constitutionalism and conflicting norms are considered. The last part of the chapter comments on the failure of legal reasoning and jurisprudence to evolve.

References

  1. Alasia S (1997) Party politics and Government in Solomon Islands. Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, discussion paper 97/7. https://openresearch-repository.anu.edu.au/bitstream/1885/41732/3/ssgmalasia.pdf. Accessed 17 Mar 2019
  2. Best G (1995) Justice, international relations and human rights. Int Aff 71(4):775–799CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Boyd S (2003) Australian judges at work internationally. Australian Law J 77:303–308Google Scholar
  4. Brown K (1986) Criminal law and custom in Solomon Islands. QUT Law J 2:133–139Google Scholar
  5. Brown K (2005) Reconciling customary law and received law in Melanesia: the post-independence experience in Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. Charles Darwin University Press, DarwinGoogle Scholar
  6. Brown K, Corrin Care J (1998) Conflict in Melanesia: customary law and the rights of women. Commonwealth Law Bulletin 24(3–4):1334–1355CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Brown K, Corrin Care J (2001) More on democratic fundamentals in Solomon Islands: Minister for Provincial Government v Guadalcanal Provincial Assembly. Victoria Univ Wellington Law Rev 32(3):653–673CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chiam S (2009) Asia’s experience in the quest for a regional human rights mechanism. Victoria Univ Wellington Law Rev 40:127–148CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Corrin J (2007) Breaking the mould: constitutional review in Solomon Islands. Revue Juridique Polynesienne 13:143–168Google Scholar
  10. Corrin J (2009) From horizontal and vertical to lateral: extending the effects of human rights in post colonial legal systems of the South Pacific. Int Comp Law Q 58(1):1–39CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Corrin J (2010) Accommodating legal pluralism in Pacific Courts: problems of proof of customary law. Int J Evidence Proof 15:1–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Corrin J (2013) Cultural relativism vs universalism: the South Pacific reality. In: Arnold R (ed) The universalism of human rights. Springer, Dortrecht, pp 103–125CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Corrin J (2017) Human rights are not our business: legal pluralism and the South Pacific’s constitutional conundrum. In: Hourquebie F (ed) Pluralisme Juridique et Droits Fondamentaux. Fondation Varenne, Bordeaux, pp 83–97Google Scholar
  14. Corrin J (2019) Transplant shock: the hazards of introducing statutes of general application. In: Breda V (ed) Legal transplants in East Asia and Oceania. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 34–62CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Corrin Care J (1999) Customary law and human rights in Solomon Islands. J Legal Pluralism Unofficial Law 43:135–144CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Corrin Care J (2006) Negotiating the constitutional conundrum: balancing cultural identity with principles of gender equality in post-colonial South Pacific societies. Indigenous Law J 5:51–81Google Scholar
  17. Corrin Care J, Zorn JG (2005) Legislating for the application of customary law in Solomon Islands. Common Law World Rev 34:144–168CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Corrin J, Patterson D (2017) Introduction to South Pacific law, 4th edn. Intersentia, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  19. Farran S (2009) Human rights in the South Pacific: challenges and changes. Routledge-Cavendish, AbingdonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. French R (2009) The future of Australian Constitutionalism. Unpublished speech, 27 November 2009. Centre for Comparative Studies, Melbourne, p 6Google Scholar
  21. Gluckman M (1972) The ideal in Barotse jurisprudence. Manchester University Press, ManchesterGoogle Scholar
  22. Hassall G (2010) Governance, legitimacy and the rule of law in the South Pacific. In: Jowitt A, Newton T (eds) Passage of change. ANU Press, Canberra, pp 51–69Google Scholar
  23. Imrana Jalal P (2009) Why do we need a pacific regional human rights commission? Victoria Univ Wellington Law Rev 40:177–194CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kabutaulaka T (2004) Beyond intervention: navigating Solomon Islands future: report on post-conflict nation rebuilding workshop. East-West Centre, HawaiiGoogle Scholar
  25. Mataitoga I (1982) South Pacific court of appeal. Pacific Perspect 11(1):70Google Scholar
  26. Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (2007) The Pacific Plan for strengthening regional cooperation and integration. https://www.adb.org/sites/default/files/linked-documents/robp-pac-2010-2013-oth01.pdf. Accessed 14 Dec 2016
  27. Pulea M (1980) A regional court of appeal for the pacific. Pacific Perspect 9(2):1Google Scholar
  28. Richardson M, Garnett R (2016) Choice of law and forum in international commercial contracts: trends in common law jurisdictions (A Non-European Perspective). www.ialsnet.org/meetings/business/RichardsonMegan-Australia.pdf. Accessed 14 Nov 2017
  29. Seddon N (1974) Reciprocity, exchange and contract. Melanesian Law J 2(1):48–65Google Scholar
  30. Solomon Islands Law Reform Commission (2012) Review of the law that applies to land below high water mark and low water mark report. SIG, HoniaraGoogle Scholar
  31. Solomon Islands National Statistics Office (2009) Census 2009, Volume 2. https://www.statistics.gov.sb/statistics/demographic-statistics/census. Accessed 17 Mar 2019
  32. Tamata L (2000) Application of the human rights conventions in the Pacific Islands courts. J South Pacific Law 4:2000. http://www.paclii.org/journals/fJSPL/vol04/12.shtml. Accessed 3 Dec 2009Google Scholar
  33. Waluchow W (2004) Constitutionalism. In: Zalta EN (ed) The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy. Center for the Study of Language and Information (CSLI), Stanford University, Stanford. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/constitutionalism/. Accessed 17 Mar 2019Google Scholar
  34. Wickliffe C (1999) Human rights education in the Pacific. J South Pacific Law 3. https://www.usp.ac.fj/index.php?id=13148. Accessed 17 Mar 2019
  35. Zorn J (2000) Occasional paper 5: women, custom and international law in the Pacific. University of South Pacific, Port VilaGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Public, International and Comparative Law, TC Beirne School of Law, The University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

Personalised recommendations