At the 35th group study session of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China last December, President Xi Jinping remarked that “expanding cooperation in law enforcement and judicial work should be incorporated into the agenda of bilateral and multilateral relations, in order to improve the efficiency of foreign-related law enforcement and judicial work, and resolutely safeguard China’s sovereignty, security, and development interests.” It is important to enhance capacity building and nurture legal professionals with international perspective, which is also one of the key policy initiatives of the Department of Justice (DoJ), in order to complement the national development. The three momentous events organised by the DoJ in May this year fully reflect Hong Kong’s leading position as an international legal and dispute resolution hub in the Asia-Pacific region and also signify our role in the international community under the capacity of Hong Kong, China.
AALCO Hong Kong Regional Arbitration Centre
The Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization (AALCO) held its annual session in Hong Kong last November and announced the establishment of the AALCO Hong Kong Regional Arbitration Centre, demonstrating the trust of our country and AALCO’s confidence in Hong Kong’s arbitral service. Action steps were then taken to bring the centre into operation. In six months’ time, the Regional Arbitration Centre was officially opened on May 25 with the full support from our country and the concerted effort by the DoJ.
AALCO is the only inter-governmental legal consultative organisation in the Asian and African regions. Regional arbitration centres under its auspices have been established in Malaysia, Egypt, Nigeria, Iran and Kenya to develop institutional arbitration and promote international commercial arbitration in both regions, and to render assistance in arbitrations. I am truly grateful to AALCO and the Central People’s Government for their agreement on the establishment of the sixth regional arbitration centre in Hong Kong, China. It is not only the honour of the city, but also conducive to the promotion and development of alternative dispute resolution (in particular online dispute resolution) services in Hong Kong and in the regions, reinforcing our role as an international legal and dispute resolution centre.
Vision 2030 for Rule of Law International Symposium
The Vision 2030 for Rule of Law International Symposium was held on May 26. Judge Xue Hanqin of the International Court of Justice and the Chairman of the Asian Peace and Reconciliation Council and former Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand, Professor Surakiart Sathirathai, delivered their keynote speeches at the Symposium, and eminent speakers from around the world discussed and exchanged views on issues related to the rule of law. Their discussions enabled us to gain a deeper understanding of the rule of law, while the message of building and maintaining more equal and inclusive societies for a sustainable future in the region and beyond could be widely spread.
The Vision 2030 Task Force Report was launched at the finale of the Symposium. The 10-year “Vision 2030 for Rule of Law” initiative was formally rolled out in 2020, with a view to building and maintaining a fair and rule-based society underpinned by the rule of law towards sustainable development for all. The Report details the intensive work of the Task Force and the DoJ since the launch of the Vision 2030, including the identification of the “basic fundamentals” of the practice of the rule of law and the recommendation of seven indicators that form the “common denominators” to be used as the starting point for formulating an objective methodology to review the practice of rule of law: (1) judicial independence; (2) equality before the law and protection of the right to non-discrimination; (3) accessibility of laws; (4) efficacy of civil and criminal proceedings and dispute resolution system; (5) prevention of corruption; (6) prevention of abuse of government power; and (7) fundamental human rights.
The DoJ will follow up on the recommendations in the report and collect relevant data for analysis so as to objectively review the practice of the rule of law. We will consider sharing the data with other jurisdictions in a bid to jointly promote the rule of law.
My wholehearted thanks go to the Task Force members, who unreservedly gave us their invaluable advice and guidance on how to promote the proper understanding and recognition of the rule of law at regional and international levels.
MoU with UNIDROIT
On May 27, President of the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT), Professor Maria Chiara Malaguti, and I signed the memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the administrative arrangements for collaboration relating to private international law and international commercial law at a virtual signing ceremony, which aims to strengthen the co-operation between the two parties in the field of private international law. Under the MoU, the DoJ and UNIDROIT will be jointly launching the inaugural Asia-Pacific Private International Law Summit in Hong Kong in November this year as one of the flagship events of Hong Kong Legal Week 2022.
This is the second MoU concluded between the DoJ and UNIDROIT, following the one in May 2021, which put in place the arrangements for the secondment of Hong Kong legal professionals to the Secretariat of UNIDROIT. I am delighted to hear from Professor Malaguti that the two secondees have been displaying exemplary performance. They showcase to the international community that Hong Kong has a pool of high-calibre legal talents.
The DoJ will continue to enhance its efforts in nurturing legal talents with international perspective, good understanding of international regulations and strong national identity, thereby contributing to the building up of the rule of law in our country, safeguarding national sovereignty, security, and development interests in accordance with the law.
President Xi once said, as a responsible major country participating in international affairs, China must practise well the rule of law, adding that it is necessary to make friends and collaborate, as well as to let China’s perspective be taken into account in major international issues. The practice of genuine multilateralism is important and we must stick to using dialogue rather than confrontation, embrace inclusiveness rather than exclusion.
Over the 25 years, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region has been leveraging on the unique advantage under the “one country, two systems” in the international legal community. Looking ahead, the DoJ will continue its efforts to actively participate in the development of international law in the capacity of Hong Kong, China and contribute to the development of the rule of law in the international community whilst consolidating Hong Kong as the centre for international legal and dispute resolution services in the Asia-Pacific region.
June 9, 2022