The Mabo Case Manuscripts
Documentary heritage submitted by Australia and recommended for inclusion in the Memory of the World Register in 2001.
The personal papers of Edward Koiki Mabo are held alongside legal and historical materials relating to the Mabo Case. Eddie Mabo was an indigenous activist whose efforts resulted – shortly after his death – in the Australian High Court, in June 1992, overturning the doctrine of ‘terra nullius’. The judgment unleashed profound change in Australia’s legal and legislative landscape, influencing the status and land rights of its indigenous peoples and race relations generally. The significance of the Mabo Case lies in it being an extremely rare instance in world history of pre-existing tribal law being formally recognised as superior to fundamental law of the ‘invading’ culture, regardless of the economic and political implications.