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Constitutions are of fundamental importance to democratic governance and the rule of law. In recent years the constitutional foundations of many Pacific states have given rise to a number of socio-political challenges, including coups, clashes between human rights and custom, weak political accountability and political instability. These challenges have given rise to a vibrant body of case law, as courts try to negotiate the relationships between introduced institutions and local practices and come to decisions that promote the ongoing development of democratic states. There have also been major constitutional reform activities in many Pacific island countries in the past ten years, and some territories will soon be hosting independence referenda.
In 2016 the University of the South Pacific (USP) established the Pacific Constitutions Research Network (PCN) to promote discussion of, and research into, these important constitutional issues. The first conference of the PCN was held in November 2016. The conference was multi/inter-disciplinary and speakers approached constitutional issues from a variety of perspectives, including socio-political, case law analysis, and textual analysis. Both scholarly and policy oriented approaches were presented. The programme and papers can be found at http://www.paclii.org/pcn/events.html.
It was agreed to hold a second conference in 2017.
This is a preliminary call for papers and panels for the 2017 conference. We welcome paper and panel suggestions from all disciplines and covering a wide range of topics relating to constitutions in Pacific island countries. Papers are particularly encouraged in the following areas, which were all identified as important themes and trends at the 2016 conference:
Constitutional reform and renewal
-Processes of reform; how to do constitutional reform
-The substance of constitutional reform proposals
-The role of the courts in overseeing the executive and the legislature
-Accountability mechanisms other than courts
-Women in politics and leadership
-Constitutions and political stability
Realising constitutional rights
-The relationship between custom and constitutional rights