DP 2022/04 Oceanic Diplomacy: The Kéamu Accord, Kastom and Maritime Boundaries
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Oceanic Diplomacy: The Kéamu Accord, Kastom and Maritime Boundaries
In July 2009, delegations from the Government of Vanuatu and New Caledonia’s independence movement Front de Libération Nationale Kanak et Socialiste (FLNKS) met on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu’s Tafea Province. Together with customary leaders, they signed the Kéamu Accord, described as: “a solemn commitment between the Kanak people and the people of Vanuatu that whatever the political and institutional future of New Caledonia, Matthew and Hunter islands will always remain the property of the people of Vanuatu (UPM 2009)”. This paper discussesthe Kéamu Accord, outlines the historic dispute over Matthew and Hunter islands, then introduces the role of kastom (custom), legend and oral history in Melanesian societies. Given the complexity of the international Law of the Sea, the paper only briefly touches on the legal issues around territorial disputes and maritime boundaries in the Pacific.