Presenters: Professors Jennifer Corrin and Craig Forrest in conjunction with the UQ Solomon Islands Partnership

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 which arise in protecting cultural heritage within pluralistic legal systems. 

Presenter biographies

Professor Jennifer Corrin is Co-Convenor of the UQ Solomon Islands Partnership and Director of Comparative Law in the Centre for Public, International and Comparative Law. Jennifer is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow, researching on law reform and development in plural legal regimes. She has published in the areas of legal pluralism, comparative law, South Pacific law, customary law, human rights, court systems, evidence, civil procedure, family law, land law, constitutional law and contract. Before joining The University of Queensland, Jennifer spent six years at the University of the South Pacific, having joined the Faculty after nine years in her own legal firm in Solomon Islands.
Professor Craig Forrest is the Director of the Marine and Shipping Law Unit, and Fellow of the Centre for Public, International and Comparative Law. Craig teaches and undertakes research in the areas of maritime law, private international law and cultural heritage law. Craig has published widely in these areas, and contributed directly to national and international public policy development through advice and workshops provided to the United States, United Kingdom, South African and Australian governments, and directly to the drafting of national legislation and international law. In maritime law, Craig has provided advise to both government and the industry in relation to the law of the sea and wet maritime law. He supervises United Nations Division of Ocean Affairs and Law of the Sea Nippon Fellows and in 2013 co-chaired a UN-Nippon Foundation Fellows capacity building workshop in Fiji.

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