The Belt and Road Initiative refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, a significant development strategy launched by the Central People’s Government with the intention of promoting economic co-operation among countries along the proposed Belt and Road routes. The Initiative has been designed to enhance the orderly free-flow of economic factors and the efficient allocation of resources. It is also intended to further market integration and create a regional economic co-operation framework of benefit to all.
The National Development and Reform Commission issued its Vision and Actions on Jointly Building the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road on 28 March 2015. This outlined the framework, key areas of co-operation and co-operation mechanisms with regard to the Belt and Road Initiative.
(Source: The Hong Kong Trade Development Council website)
In the “Outline of the 13th Five-Year Plan for the National Economic and Social Development of the People’s Republic of China” (March 2016), the dedicated chapter on Hong Kong and Macao expressly supports Hong Kong in establishing itself as a centre for international legal and dispute resolution services in the Asia-Pacific region as well as the participation of Hong Kong in the Belt and Road Initiative.
On 14 December 2017, the Arrangement between the National Development and Reform Commission and the HKSAR Government for Advancing Hong Kong’s Full Participation in and Contribution to the Belt and Road Initiative was signed, which expressed support for Hong Kong to provide legal and dispute resolution services for the Belt and Road Initiative.
Measures relating to legal services:
The Hong Kong SAR Government is very much committed to strengthening Hong Kong’s position as a deal-making hub and a leading centre for international legal and dispute resolution services in the Asia-Pacific region. This was underscored by the Chief Executive’s Policy Addresses in recent years and is one of the priorities of the DoJ.
To better cope with the challenges and to harness the additional opportunities offered by the Belt and Road Initiative, the Inclusive Dispute Avoidance and Resolution Office (IDAR Office) was established within the DoJ, which works directly under the steer of the Secretary for Justice, on 2 January 2019.
The IDAR Office's objective is to facilitate access to justice and provide equal opportunities for people from all walks of life and for all sectors of the economy without boundary, advancing Goal 16 of the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals in this region and beyond. Goal 16 emphasises the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, the provision of access to justice for all and the building of effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.
The IDAR Office organises, supports or participates in a variety of capacity building and promotional activities held in Hong Kong in order to raise the international profile of Hong Kong:
|(1)||the biennial United Nations Commission on International Trade Law Asia Pacific Judicial Summit;|
|(2)||the annual Hong Kong part of the training session of the China-Asian African Legal Consultative Organization Exchange and Research Program on International Law; and|
|(3)||conferences co-organised with local and domestic law-related organisations discussing a variety of international issues, including public private partnerships, investor-State dispute resolution mechanism, etc.|
In order to strengthen the co-operation and exchange between the mediation professional bodies of Hong Kong and Shanghai, and to promote the use of mediation to resolve commercial disputes, the conference of "Development, Opportunities and Future of Mediation in Hong Kong, the Mainland China and World-wide cum the 4th Shanghai-Hong Kong Commercial Mediation Forum", co-organised by the Joint Mediation Helpline Office, the Hong Kong Mediation Council, the Shanghai Commercial Mediation Centre and the DoJ, was held in Hong Kong on 19 May 2018.
The DoJ and the Shanghai Municipal Bureau of Justice signed a co-operation agreement in August 2018 to promote exchange and co-operation between the legal professions in the two places, to enhance mutual support of the arbitration and mediation sectors, and to jointly promote arbitration and mediation. Exchanges and collaboration on the nurturing of talent of international arbitration and mediation will also be launched.
On 9 January 2019, the DoJ signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with the Ministry of Justice of Japan to strengthen the communication, collaboration and co-operation between the two sides on issues relating to international arbitration and mediation, including training and promotion of collaborative initiatives and exchanges, and to facilitate the development of services for international arbitration and mediation in Hong Kong and Japan.
To further develop Hong Kong into an international legal and dispute resolution skills training base, and following the introduction of the Mediation Mechanism for Investment Disputes in the Investment Agreement concluded under the framework of the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement, the Department will provide training for mediators in handling international investment disputes with a view to building up a team of international investment mediators in Asia to support resolution of investment disputes through mediation.
The DoJ, together with the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) and the Asia Academy of International Law, has organised the first international investment law and investor-State mediator training course in Hong Kong. The training course was held from 15 to 21 October 2018. The DoJ invited renowned speakers from the ICSID and the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR) to speak in the training course. There were about 50 mediation practitioners and government officials from Asia and overseas. Further rounds of such training will be conducted.