Dialogue builds consensus

August 22, 2019

Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng

As the flagship event of the Asian Academy of International Law, the Colloquium on International Law is organised in Hong Kong annually to deliberate on topical issues that pertain to different spheres of international law. The event, held on August 15 and 16 this year, was well attended by participants coming from all over the world with the presence of an array of distinguished speakers.


Every year, the colloquium attracts a good number of audience from different backgrounds and there was no exception this year. About 40 delegates from 30 countries, who joined the Training Session of China-AALCO (Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization) Exchange & Research Programme on International Law, attended the colloquium. Some of them are government lawyers and some are diplomats. The training programme was conducted both in Beijing and Hong Kong.


In Hong Kong, they were given an opportunity to feel for themselves the full and successful implementation of “one country, two systems”, and to gain a better understanding of the importance of the rule of law. Exchange sessions were arranged where experts shared experience of international law in practice. At the same time, the delegates were able to understand Hong Kong’s legal system and thereby encouraged to use our legal and dispute resolution services.


This year’s colloquium focused on the uncertainties brought by the current trade dispute and political issues in the international arena. The speakers analysed the underlying causes and examined the foundation of hope for the future, offering insights to the audience.


Addressing the colloquium, the Chief Executive pointed out that Hong Kong embraces an independent and impartial judicial system with a broad pool of legal talent. She encouraged the sector to grasp the opportunities under the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area Plan and Belt & Road Initiative by further promoting Hong Kong’s legal services.


In my speech, I mentioned that the arrangement on interim measures in aid of arbitral proceedings could prevent the other party from destroying the evidence or dissipating their assets so as to ensure that arbitral proceedings could be carried out effectively. I also highlighted that a mediation mechanism for resolving disputes under the CEPA (Mainland & Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Agreement) Investment Agreement has already been put in place. We would capitalise on Hong Kong's strengths in mediation to better serve the local and international communities.


At the colloquium, I suggested that it was worth exploring the establishment of a body through collaboration, based on credibility and sensitive to cultural diversity, to provide innovative and diversified dispute resolution services that lead to a win-win situation for all parties and achieve the effect of synergy.


Similarly, we should consider the use of an innovative and diversified dispute resolution techniques to handle the existing conflicts in Hong Kong. Whilst enjoying the rights and freedoms that one is entitled to, one must also respect the rights of others. Consensus should be built through dialogues, not violence. We can then surpass this difficult time and restore peace and order in Hong Kong and move forward.


Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng wrote this article and posted it on her blog on August 22.

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