Ruth Bird is Firm Legal Information Manager at the law firm Phillips Fox. Prior to joining this firm, she was Law Librarian at the University of Melbourne Law School. She presented a paper on Australian Legal Systems and Research at the FCIL meeting held at AALL in Washington D.C. in 1999, and co-presented a paper on Accessing Asian materials at IALL in Melbourne. She has also written various articles over the years for the Australian Law Librarian, and contributed to the Legal Division Quarterly of the SLA. Prior to joining the University in 1996, Ruth was at the Australian law firm, Arthur Robinson & Hedderwicks.
Editor’s note: This article is an update to the Law of the Pacific Islands: A Guide to Web Based Resources, (published October 16, 2000). There are additions, changes for some Web site addresses, as well as some deletions. These additions and changes are indicated by (yellow background color) for easy identification.
- 1. Introduction
- 2. Countries:
- American Samoa; Cook Islands; Coral Sea Islands; Easter Island; Fiji; French Polynesia; Guam; Hawaii; Kiribati; Marshall Islands; Micronesia; Midway Is.; Nauru; New Caledonia; Niue; Norfolk Island; Northern Mariana Is.; Palau; Papua New Guinea; Pitcairn Is.; Samoa; Solomon Is.; Tokelau; Tonga; Tuvalu; Vanuatu; Wallis and Futuna.
- 3. Selected Journals
- 4. Academic Sites & Research Centres
- 5. Related Sites, not Law Specific
This Resource guide deals with internet sites providing Caselaw, Legislation and Government home pages for the Pacific Island region. There are also links to several relevant journals, and to academic sites providing dedicated Pacific Law web pages, or Centres dealing with Pacific Law.
There are several issues to be aware of when using the internet to locate Pacific law sites.
Many sites bundle Pacific into an area called “Asia Pacific”. This often includes countries bordering the Pacific on the eastern side, but in many instances excludes most Pacific islands.
The internet connections to most countries in the Pacific are still fairly slow by standards in the US, Australia and Europe. It can take some time for the data to appear on the screen; patience is needed.
Companies and institutions on the Western seaboard of the US often include Pacific in the geographic description of their location (eg, Pacific NorthWest), which creates some false trails in search results.
For the purposes of this Guide, I have excluded the countries of the Pacific Rim as well as the countries of Asia which are proximate to the Pacific. Thus Australia and New Zealand for which there are excellent guides already on LLRX, are not included.
Most of the countries covered are marked on a very good map provided by a site called Political Resources on the Net.
The Pacific Islands, are scattered across a quarter of the earth’s surface. Of the thirty million square kilometres, 98% is ocean, and of 7,500 islands, only 500 are inhabited.
The Pacific Islands are separated into the three sub-regions of Melanesia (West), Polynesia (South-East) and Micronesia (North), based on their ethnic, linguistic and cultural differences.
Pacific Islanders speak nearly a quarter of the world’s languages, and most countries were formerly administered by several imperial powers. The political structures vary from formal colonial dependencies through to ‘associated state” and to states with full political independence.
There is great diversity of culture, environment and demographic conditions, yet Island governments share a sense of common destiny, which is expressed in technical cooperation and political collaboration through several regional organisations including the South Pacific Forum, the Pacific Community, and the University of the South Pacific.
The University of the South Pacific has established PacLII – Pacific Islands Legal Information Institute – is a prototype system produced from data developed and published by the University of the South Pacific School of Law with assistance from the Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII). This may provide a speedier point of access.
Pacific Island Group Political Status Associated Country (where applicable) American Samoa Self-Governing Territory United States of America Cook Islands Self Governing in free association New Zealand Coral Sea Islands Territory Australia Easter Island (Rapa Nui) Self-Governing Territory Chile Republic of Fiji
Judgments — While the majority are from 1997 or 1998 onwards, some early judgments are included.
Also on Austlii and PacLII
Legislation — Major acts are included
Human Rights — UNDP site
Independent State French Polynesia Self-Governing Overseas Territory France Guam Self-Governing Territory United States of America Hawaii State — Self-Governing United States of America Republic of Kiribati Independent State Republic of Marshall Islands Free Association United States Federated States of Micronesia Free Association United States Midway Islands Territory United States Republic of Nauru Independent State New Caledonia Self-Governing Overseas Territory France Niue Self-Governing Free Association New Zealand Norfolk Island Self-Governing Territory Australia Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands Self-Governing Territory in Political Union United States of America Republic of Palau Associated State United States – relationship not finalised Independent State of Papua New Guinea Independent State Pitcairn Islands Self-Governing Territory United Kingdom Independent State of Samoa (Formerly Western Samoa) Constitutional Monarchy Sovereign State of Solomon Islands Independent State Tokelau
Self-Governing Territory New Zealand Constitutional Monarchy Sovereign State of Tuvalu Independent State Republic of Vanuatu Independent State Wallis and Futuna Self-Governing Territory France
Asian-Pacific Law & Policy Journal, 1999+
William S. Richardson School of Law , University of Hawaii
Pacific Rim Law & Policy Journal, 1990+
University of Washington School of Law
Journal of South Pacific Law, 1999+
University of the South Pacific
Pacific Islands Report
University of Hawaii. This excellent news site, developed and maintained by the Pacific Islands Development Program/East-West Center at the Center for Pacific Islands Studies of the University of Hawai‘ is an timely and useful resource for current Pacific Island information.
International Treaties, Conventions
Treaties & Conventions – South Pacific Treaties, Agreements, etc. (University of the South Pacific, School of Law)
Treaties include the Maritime Boundary Agreements and several Declarations and Communiques
Also on PacLII
Pipers – Intellectual Property Law Relevant to the Pacific
Link to selected IP legislation and cases, maintained by a New Zealand Law Firm.
Forum Fisheries Agency
The South Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) was established in 1979 under a Convention signed by 12 Forum member countries. The Convention reflects the common concern of member nations on matters of conservation, optimum utilization and coastal states sovereign rights over the region’s living marine resources. Fish legislation can be found for several member countries at http://www.ffa.int/frame_index1.html.
University of the South Pacific School of Law
The School of Law has commenced collecting and publishing online a range of recent judgments and legislation from countries in the South Pacific region. Legislation is listed in chronological order or in numerical order of chapter and act numbers, as applicable.
The judgments currently available are listed in chronological order and are divided by jurisdiction (Civil, Criminal, Land, Matrimonial) and according to whether they were heard in the Principal Court or a Court of Appeal.
Includes Pacific Law Materials (judgments from Pacific Island countries including Fiji, Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, and Samoa), and the electronic Journal of South Pacific Law.
The Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies (RSPAS)
This centre is at ANU (Australian National University, Canberra) and is regarded as a pre-eminent centre for research and postgraduate training on the Asia-Pacific region. Associated with this centre is The Centre for the Contemporary Pacific.
Centre for Asian and Pacific Law (CAPLUS), University of Sydney
Based at the University of Sydney, the aims of the Centre for Asian and Pacific Law include promoting knowledge in and understanding of the laws, legal systems, constitutions, legal culture and business laws of the countries of Asia and the Pacific. There is a greater emphasis on Asia than on the Pacific.
Centre for Asia/Pacific Law and Business (CAPLAB)
This Centre provides and coordinates Asia/Pacific business and law teaching and research in the Faculty of Commerce and Administration, Victoria University of Wellington, NZ.
The Asia Pacific Intellectual Property Law Institute, Murdoch University
This Institute was established in 1995 as a regional focus for research, teaching, training and advice on intellectual property law and policy and on the national, regional and global protection of intellectual property rights. It brings together some of the finest scholars and practitioners in the intellectual property field in the Asia Pacific region.
Monash University Law Library Pacific Law Resource Unit
Objectives of the Unit are:
- To maintain an up-to-date collection of the law, law-related literature and legal information of and concerning the states and territories of the Pacific Island region.
- To encourage the study, wider understanding and deeper knowledge of the laws of the peoples of the Pacific Islands and their region.
- To facilitate legal research relevant to the Pacific Island region by studies carried out in and from Monash University and in cooperation with governments, courts, legal professions, institutions for legal education and training, and law-related agencies in the region.
- To provide legal information services for Australia and the Pacific Islands region.
Asian Pacific Research Institute
Pacific Ocean Studies at APRI are led by Tony Angelo who combines this with strong interests in Asia and Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. He teaches Pacific Legal Studies at Victoria University of Wellington and is among other things is the Constitutional Adviser to the Government of Niue and Legal Adviser to the Government of Tokelau.
Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies, University of Canterbury
This New Zealand based Centre has the following mission: The mission of the Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies is to promote and advance scholarship and understanding of the Pacific region, including Aotearoa New Zealand, its people, societies and cultures; histories; arts; politics; environment and resources; developments and future. The page includes a list of Pacific related publications.
UNSW Centre for South Pacific Studies
Features include and Online Bibliography of Pacific Studies, the site for the Australia-Papua New Guinea Friendship Association. The Centre for South Pacific Studies was established in 1987 to collect, collate and distribute information from a diversity of disciplines, in printed and electronic form, about the peoples and places of the Pacific islands.
South Pacific Information Network
Centre for Corporate Change, Australian Graduate School of Management hosts this email network; much of the information relates to history of the region.
University of Waikato Pacific Law Sites
This collection of links includes a list of primary and secondary legal material relating to Pacific Island nations which is held in major New Zealand law libraries.
The South Pacific Forum
The South Pacific Forum represents Heads of Government of all the independent and self-governing Pacific Island countries, Australia and New Zealand. Since 1971 it has provided member nations with the opportunity to express their joint political views and to cooperate in areas of political and economic concern. Members are: Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu. The Forum meets each year at Head of Government level.
The South Pacific Community
This is the page of the Secretariat of the South Pacific Community. An international organisation serving the Pacific region, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community is the premier technical and development organisation of the Pacific. It is the only bilingual (English/French) regional organisation covering all 22 countries and territories of the Pacific.
The Pacific Forum
A collection of links which include cultural and general links. Not an official site.
The Agricultural Development in the American Pacific Project
This site links to Pacific Land Grants Schools, as well as Agricultural schools in the Pacific. It provides a history of the project, and a list of Pacific Island experts.
The Small Island Developing States Network
Global Communities on Island Issues such as biodiversity, climate change and sustainable tourism. The Small Island Developing States Network was initiated as a follow up to the Barbados Programme of Action from 1994. It was recognised that all islands share common issues and SIDSnet was initiated with a mandate to implement the communication segment in the implementation of the Programme.
Pacific Studies WWW Virtual Library
Part of the World-Wide Web Virtual Library, provided by the Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies at ANU (Australian National University).
Oceanian Governments on the WWW
Prepared and maintained by Gunnar Anzinger, this is a comprehensive database of governmental institutions on the World Wide Web: parliaments, ministries, offices, law courts, embassies, city councils, public broadcasting corporations, central banks, multi-governmental institutions etc. Also includes political parties and updated list of government agencies and embassies. Tabular index by country indicates number of entries and last update. Last update is December 2000.
Political Resources on the Web — Australia/Oceania
Listings of political sites available on the Internet sorted by country, with links to Parties, Organizations, Governments, Media and more from all around the world. Includes maps for each country.
Global Legal Information Network — entries under specific countries
The Law Library of Congress site, with links to Constitutions, where available, legislation, cases and research guides.
The Open Directory Project — Oceania
The Open Directory Project’s goal is to produce the most comprehensive directory of the web, by relying on a vast army of volunteer editors.