Customary Law and Transitional Justice

Although many authors focus solely on traditional methods of conflict resolution in Africa (Zartman 2000; Huyse and Salter 2008), there is a growing literature on the use and/or revitalization of customary practices of justice throughout the world (Rouland 1994; Schmeidl 2009). This is particularly true of the South Pacific, where scholars of legal anthropology, as well as politicians and government officials, are interested in and working through the implications of the inclusion of customary law within the ‘Western’ legal system that has been in place since the 1960s and 1970s

(Lawson 1996; Powles and Pulea 1988; Ntumy 1993; Jowitt and Cain 2003). As Farran writes:

When Pacific Island countries gained independence in the latter part of the 20th century some colonial laws were abolished, others were retained as interim measures pending their replacement by national laws. The place of custom and customary law was reassessed and in some cases strengthened as part of the assertion of independence and national identity. (2009: 182)

In cases such as the Solomon Islands, customary law has not only been retained but has become a key element of transitional justice and peacebuilding scholarship and practice.

 
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