Women, State Law and Land in Peri-Urban Settlements on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands

Rebecca Monson

From 1998–2003, Solomon Islands suffered from violent conflict, popularly known as ‘the Tensions’, which resulted in many deaths, the internal displacement of tens of thousands more, and the destruction of the country’s narrow economic base. While the causes of the crisis are complex, they include social conflicts arising from the use of land which remain largely unaddressed today. Land tenure in Solomon Islands is characterised by multiple, overlapping arenas, norms, and institutions emanating from customary practice, the state, and Christianity. To date, very little of the research on land in Solomon Islands has been undertaken by women, or focused on women’s perspectives and experiences of land tenure. This paper provides a brief overview of the intersection of state and customary laws governing land in peri-urban settlements around Honiara, focusing on their impact upon landowners, particularly women landowners. It suggests that the intersection of customary and state legal systems allows a small number of individuals, predominantly men, to solidify their control over customary land. This has occurred to the detriment of many landowners, who have often found themselves excluded from both decision-making processes and the distribution of financial benefits from the use of land. This contributes to social conflict and undermines the legitimacy of land dealings, and, as the Tensions demonstrate, can ultimately lead to violent conflict.

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Research Type(s)
UN/IGO Document
Submitted by Toksave
March 23, 2021
Published in

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