HDR Candidate: Anne Pickering

Advisors: Prof Jennifer Corrin (Principal) and (Associates) Prof Richard Bigwood and Prof Daniel Fitzpatrick (Monash University)

Title: Customary Land Tenure Reform: Adopting An Innovative Approach (Sri Lanka, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu)

Abstract: Reform of customary land tenure poses special challenges to nations seeking to modernise land tenure and prosper within the current international economic order. This is not an easy task in some traditional societies as they attempt to modernise tenure and achieve economic prosperity while balancing those with national identity, indigenous cultural institutions and social harmony. In some countries, the failure to accommodate customary land tenure within the state land regime has been a barrier to economic progress. In other countries where customary land tenure is accommodated modernising the existing system poses difficulties.  This thesis examines the course and matter of historical legal change in customary law that shaped the present state of customary land tenure in Sri Lanka, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.  The premise of this analysis is that historical course of legal change influence the present process of change and that these countries provide useful lessons to articulate practical insights and guidelines for customary land tenure reform.