On 14 November 2023, 4 New Square’s Lionel Nichols met with a delegation from Norfolk Island to provide advice on the international law and human rights issues arising from Norfolk Island’s progress towards self-determination and independence.
Norfolk Island is a former English colony located in the Pacific Ocean that was gifted by Queen Victoria to the Pitcairn Islanders in 1856 when they outgrew their former home. The settlers, compromising 194 descendants of Polynesians and mutineers from HMS Bounty, have since this time lived in continuous occupation of the 35km² island located 1,500km northwest of New Zealand
In 1913, Norfolk Island became an “external territory” of Australia and the Norfolk Islanders took significant steps towards decolonisation and independence in 1979 when a democratically-elected Parliament was established to make laws for the good governance of the island in respect of crime, health, education, customs, immigration and other local matters. In 2015, however, Australia re-colonised Norfolk Island and abolished the Norfolk Island Parliament, meaning that the Norfolk Islanders are now governed by a single administrator based in Canberra, almost 2,000 kilometres away.
Lionel is currently instructed by a Norfolk Island elder, Albert Buffett, in his case against Australia at the United Nations Human Rights Committee alleging various breaches of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, including those concerning self-determination, indigenous rights, minority rights and the right to vote.
Lionel is also assisting the Norfolk Islanders in their application to the UN Committee for recognition as a Non-Self-Governing Territory pursuant to Chapter XI of the UN Charter.
Lionel is also a former resident of Norfolk Island, began his schooling on the Island and grew up speaking the local Norfuk language.