Legal Pluralism in the Pacific: Solomon Island's World War II Heritage
‘Legal Pluralism in the Pacific: Solomon Island’s World War II Heritage’ (2013) 20 International Journal of Cultural Property 1-21
22 Pages Posted: 4 Feb 2014
Date Written: 2013
The country of Solomon Islands, like most Pacific island nations, has a legally pluralistic regime. That is, customary law operates in parallel with the common law, a legacy of Solomon Islands’ colonial past. Legal pluralism raises significant difficulties, including in the way cultural heritage is protected and managed. To date, the courts have rarely been called on to deal with such issues, but in 2010 the High Court had to examine legislation designed to regulate the recovery and export of World War II relics. This seemingly innocuous case raised a number of issues concerning the rights of different stakeholders to this material. Moreover, it raised a foundational question as to whether these relics might be considered cultural heritage, and if so, just whose heritage it was. A consideration of this case and the legislation that applies to this heritage serves to illustrate some of the difficulties that arise in protecting cultural heritage within pluralistic legal systems.
Keywords: Legal pluralism, cultural heritage, Pacific island nations,
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