Custom and Human Rights in the Pacific

Start date
01 February 2005
04 473 3453
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Project Overview

This project explores the interaction between custom and human rights in the Pacific, including New Zealand, by articulating some of the issues arising from this interaction and how the two can inform each other.

Terms of Reference 

The Commission will review and analyse the interface between custom and human rights in the Pacific, having regard to Pacific values and comparative experience, with a view to a deeper understanding of this aspect of human rights in New Zealand and further development of a Pacific human rights culture. 

In particular the Commission will consider: 

  • The existing human rights landscape in the Pacific. This will involve reviewing existing statutory and other domestic requirements for human rights and custom, international human rights conventions, and domestic case law that has custom and human rights implications. 
  • The arguments for and against universal human rights and a cultural relativist approach in the Pacific. This will include the relationship between culture, cultural values and human rights, the relationship between group and individual rights, and the concept of duties as a corollary to rights. Ways of harmonising custom and human rights, and the capacity of traditional institutions to do this will be examined through a Pacific lens. 
  • Potential future developments in terms of human rights in the Pacific. This may include enhancement of traditional institutions and the development of regional mechanisms.