The research developed by the LARJE, whose acronym means Economic and Legal Research Laboratory, focuses on natural resources, biodiversity and the environment on the one hand, and insular law and economic and social environment on the other hand. These themes come in a perspective of sustainable development, related to the progressive emancipation of the country in the status resulting from the Noumea Agreement. They intend to favour both fundamental and applied research, on the economic and legal aspects of the evolution of the populations and local politics related to human and industrial activities in New Caledonia, especially nickel. In this perspective the members of the team will continue to favour international openings through collaboration with universities in the area, Australian National University in Canberra, the University of Auckland in New Zealand, the University of the South Pacific in Fiji, the AUF (University agency of the French-speaking world) and regional institutions, (particularly the Secretariat of the Pacific Community - SPC, Oceania Regional Environment Programme - PROE).
The LARJE intends to adapt and develop these two major themes over time, using internet (http://larje.univ-nc.nc) and completed by regular publishing of research in the electronic version of the Working-Papers (Cahiers du LARJE).
1) Natural Resources, biodiversity and environment
1.1. This is a theme which the different players in civil and political society have become aware of and which goes beyond the geographical limits of New Caledonia. Because of the existence of big industrial projects (metallurgic factories in the South and North, export of ore to the factory in Korea), the issues of mining, nickel, protection of terrestrial and maritime biodiversity, as well as Town Planning and Building Law, are favoured.
2) Insular Law and insular human, economic and social environment
2.1.1. Among the matters which must be studied are civil status (or rather types of civil status), family rights and especially the status and capacity of people, types of marriage settlement and succession, since these matters closely concern the legal and cultural basis of society, and the Law of Property with the sensitive question of the compatibility between the Law of Property as it is conceived in French Law and the legal connection with the land of kanak populations. Added to this is the study of conflict settlement, in particular conciliation and preliminaries of appealing to the Customary Councils before judicial contesting of customary acts, and the role of customary assessors. Comparative Law must be favoured in these different areas of Private Law (civil and customary).
Labour Law, which is under the jurisdiction of New Caledonia, is a field in which the keystone is the social and human environment. Indeed, the norms of Labour Law include an organisation of professional relationships, but also an idea of the rights and obligations related to the latter. The history of Labour Law shows how certain types of social behaviour constitute a specific source of inspiration: strikes, collective negotiation, disciplinary penalties, weekly time off, are legal notions which come from various and sometimes ancient practices. It is therefore interesting to research how this phenomenon is apparent in New Caledonia. More precisely it is a matter of analysing how local social behaviours influence the norms of Labour Law.
The transfer of Civil Law and Commercial Law to New Caledonia in 2013 is the object of a particular study. The principle of this transfer shows the specific situation in New Caledonia in a progressive process of emancipation, and poses new large scale issues, especially with the increasing number of types of civil status and the resolution techniques for conflicts of laws. The transfer of power in the area of Commercial Law poses, among others, the question of the choice of accountancy for New Caledonia at the time of IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standard), along with that of permanent updating and adaptation of this law.
2.1.2. The access to law and its understanding are key elements to citizenship which is still to be built. The inventory of the law of French Overseas Territories and Administrative Areas, that is the research of the legal foundation of public and private actions in New Caledonia, covers both the identification of the applicable law following the « principle called speciality», and the models of transfers of legal norms following the «principle called assimilation » or of appropriation of the exterior norm. This is an on-going task of the team.
The Laboratory continues to go more deeply into the study of New Caledonian Constitutional Law. New Caledonia comes under Title XIII of the French Constitution, which departs from numerous points of the Constitution. The Laboratory has gained a recognized capacity of expertise in this field. Research also concerns the question, for which the terminology is ambiguous, of the « coming out » of the Noumea Agreement, that is, the gradual evolution towards full emancipation. The study particularly concerns the history of the English-speaking Pacific and research, by comparative law, of existing models of association and associated countries.
2.2. The issue of « economic environment » is the necessary continuation of the human environment. It is more particularly a matter of studying the means to come out of a system of economic dependence of New Caledonia on Metropolitan France in the perspective of the emancipation shown in the Noumea Accords, and the interactions of insular economies with national and neighbouring economies.
2.2.1. The LARJE emphasizes « rebalancing ». The perspective of the team is to measure what the essential criterion is in the evaluation of public action in the Noumea Accords. Studying the rebalancing permits integrated legal, financial, fiscal and economic reflection. The road to sustainable development necessitates ensuring the integration of all of the communities into the system of economic exchange, in order to guarantee the distribution of the advantages of both growth and the income from mining. Special interest is directed to « training and the protection of local employment in New Caledonia », from the aspect of qualifications and the analysis of productivity. The purpose of this research programme is thus to assess the importance of training and its adequacy for the needs of the labour market.
2.2.2. The other field of analysis proposed concerns the economic relationship between New Caledonia and Metropolitan France. The question of financial transfers, through the study of public finance and tax systems, is one of the essential elements in the relationship which is being established between the insular economies of French Overseas Territories and Metropolitan France. The emancipation provided for in the Noumea Agreement poses the question of the local resources which New Caledonia will have to generate. The study of fiscal and monetary reform ensues from this questioning. The Laboratory, which is interested in the question of currency and its parity, is studying the situation of the banks in New Caledonia in a complementary manner, after the Basle II agreement, as well as the financing of the economy. As a result of its competence in management, today the laboratory is opening the field of the evaluation of businesses in New Caledonia.
2.2.3. The revision of commercial policy directly poses the question of the integration of New Caledonia into its region: must it be prepared to join the regional economic integration movement? Are the regional integration agreements (PICTA - Pacific Island Country Trade Agreement, PACER - Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations) dangerous for New Caledonia (competition from countries in the region with low salaries for low value added products and New Zealand and Australia for high value added products) ? In this case, must the development of bilateralism (permitted by the WTO) be favoured? These economic issues have noticeable consequences and design the shape which the future emancipation of the country has to take. In 2010 the Laboratory was selected by the Fonds Pacifique (French Fund for the Pacific) within the scope of the call for projects on regional integration in the Pacific. The interest of the project, which combines the specialities of economics and International Public Law, permits strong synergies in the team, and maintains continuing relations with Vanuatu.