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Developing legislation to formalise customary land management: deep legal pluralism or a shallow veneer?

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Sue Farran



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


One of the many post-colonial claims of indigenous people is the re-assertion of their rights over their land and its resources. Colonial history has created for many people a plural legal system and this, combined with social and economic changes, presents new challenges for development in the realm of traditional or customary land. This article focuses on the Pacific island state of Vanuatu, formerly known as the New Hebrides. At independence in 1980 allodial title to all land was returned to the custom owners while colonial forms of land law were also retained. In 2013, after nearly a decade of concern about land alienation, the Vanuatu government introduced the Custom Land Management Act. This article critically analyses this attempt to safeguard customary law and customary institutions in formal, written law, considering in particular the impli- cations for law and development in a plural land law regime.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Farran S, Corrin J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Law and Development Review

Year: 2016

Volume: 10

Issue: 1

Pages: 1-27

Online publication date: 12/02/2016

Acceptance date: 11/11/2015

Date deposited: 20/05/2019

ISSN (print): 2194-6523

ISSN (electronic): 1943-3867

Publisher: Walter de Gruyter GmbH


DOI: 10.1515/ldr-2016-2017


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