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Jon Van Dyke photo

Seven years after a renowned University of Hawaiʻi law professor’s untimely death, hundreds of legal papers and documents chronicling his vast research topics—ranging from Pacific disarmament to the law of the sea to Native Hawaiian rights—will be available to scholars and law students at the UH Law Library.

Jon Van Dyke of UH Mānoa William S. Richardson School of Law was one of Hawaiʻi’s most influential legal scholars with an international reputation in ocean, environmental, human rights, constitutional and Native Hawaiian law.

The UH law library will unveil a searchable database of his 35-year career at a reception on March 4, 2018, from 4 to 6 p.m. The papers include specifics of his lawsuit filed on behalf of victims who suffered under the regime of former Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos, as well as his work on sea level rise and nuclear waste disposal in the Pacific.

Vicki Szymczak, law library director and an associate professor, said the law school’s meticulous document preservation process entails freezing the papers to eliminate microbes, bacteria and mold. “Once they are removed from the freezer, they are indexed and tabbed and placed into acid-free folders and acid-free boxes,” said Szymczak. “The permanent resting place for the documents is our intensive storage room, which has a separate chilling unit.”

The UH law library received a grant from the Hawaiʻi Council for the Humanities to process the papers of Van Dyke, who died November 29, 2011, in his sleep in Australia, where he was scheduled to give the keynote address at an ocean law conference.

Ellen-Rae Cachola, UH law library archives manager and evening library supervisor, is heading the project.

The Van Dyke collection

  • Series 1: Who Owns the Crown Lands? Covers his book with the same title, as well as legal documents relating to the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy, Akaka Bill, Apology Resolution, blood quantum, Rice v. Cayetano, Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, water rights and other issues.
  • Series 2: Ferdinand Marcos Human Rights Litigation Includes legal documents and research related to successful litigation with his wife, attorney Sherry Broder, against the estate of former Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos for human rights violations committed against Filipino citizens during the Marcos regime.
  • Series 3: Pacific Island Judiciary Development His work advocating for territorial rights, sovereignty and judicial development of various Pacific Islands and their inhabitants, including Kiribati, the Federated States of Micronesia, Johnston/Kalama Atoll, Tonga, American Samoa and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
  • Series 4: Ocean Law Van Dyke helped shape the discourse around ocean law as a member of many organizations involved with the development of the Law of the Sea.

In addition to the electronic database, researchers are welcome to make an appointment to gain access to the collections by calling: (808) 956-2867.

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