“Legal Systems of Pacific Island States:
A Voyage in God’s Canoe between Customary and State Law”
UCLan Cyprus School of Law Research Seminar 1, Thursday 1st November, 1.30-2.30pm (CY007)
(savouries and soft drinks will be provided)
Dr. Katharina Serrano
(Senior Lecturer in Law, Lancashire Law School, UCLan)
Starting with the socio-legal background to pre-contact societies in Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia, the seminar will take you on a unique legal journey during which you will have the opportunity to follow the evolution of Oceania’s pluralist legal systems. Following a brief introduction to the application and role of common law in Pacific Island states during colonization and post independence, the Seminar will consider some of the constitutional solutions for combining the legal heritage of colonizers with traditional customary law and Pacific cultural identity. Additionally, the seminar will present you with some insights into the practical experience of judiciary and legislative with customary law in form of witchcraft and sorcery to exemplify the particularly complex interrelationship of common and customary law in the Sea of Islands. Finally, by the time you start exploring the ‘dream of a Melanesian jurisprudence’, you will begin to understand why present-day legal systems of Pacific Islands are analogous to a voyage in God’s canoe.