Introduction This project is a critical review of published and unpublished literature on formal and informal, indigenous and non-indigenous, conflict prevention, management and dispute resolution processes in the Pacific, with a particular focus on the prevention and resolution of conflicts and disputes over land. Particular focus was given to customary dispute resolution processes and disputes over land held under customary land tenure.
The effects that these conflicts have on society, the economy and development are severe. In Fiji, for example, 70% of the agricultural leases for sugarcane farming have not been renewed because customary owners want to take up commercial farming themselves and want to increase their rental income. Many landowners distrust the Native Lands Trust Board which administers the leases on their behalf. Both landlords and tenants are portrayed as losers and the situation poses an impending crisis for the sugarcane industry in the country.(Boydell 2001: 25; Clarke 2006: 132). The Bougainville crisis in PNG can at least partially be attributed to customary landowner dissatisfaction in respect to royalties from the Panguna mine. The closure of the mine resulted in a 17% reduction in revenue for the PNG government. The fighting killed approximately 20,000 of the 175,000 inhabitants of Bougainville (Boydell 2001: 25). Land-related conflict also contributed to the period of so-called 'ethnic tension' in Solomon Islands which led to the intervention by the Australian led Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI).
In response to resource extraction and land loss, customary owners have started fighting back. This in turn has led to governments relying on the use of force to control access to the disputed land and has sparked cycles of repression, conflict and further militarisation. There is considerable tension between patterns of customary land use and the use of land for investment and commercial development. This also impacts on development in the region, as many development projects fail due to the lack of understanding of local relationships between people and land. The need for effective and efficient land-related conflict resolution and transformation is greater than ever, as land is central both to questions of development and also of security for Pacific people (Brown, MA 2007).