3rd ASLI Conference

ASLI explored the theme "The Development of Law in Asia: Convergence versus Divergence?" during its Third Conference on 25th and 26th May 2006

The Third ASLI Conference hosted by the International Exchange Center of the East China University of Politics and Law ("ECUPL") in Shanghai attracted an overwhelming response this year. The theme "The Development of Law in Asia: Convergence versus Divergence?" drew many paper submissions, thus encouraging the organizer to increase the number of panels from 12 to 14, one month before the conference. Nearer the conference, some prospective registrants had to be turned away as the number far exceeded what the organizer could accommodate.

A total number of 234 scholars gathered from 24 countries on 25th and 26th May 2006 as compared to 185 participants last year. There was also an increase in the number of paper presenters from 110 to 164 this year. The wide-ranging panel titles included Environmental Protection, Natural Resources & Customary Rights, WTO, Free Trade & Regional Co-operation, Criminal Law, E-Commerce, Computer Law and Technology Issues among others.

The two-day conference was opened by Professor Wang Limin, Vice President of East China University of Politics and Law, followed by a welcome address from President He Qinhua, East China University of Politics. Professor Hikmahanto Juwana, Chairman of the ASLI Board of Governors, and Dean at the Faculty of Law, University of Indonesia, addressed the participants next. Finally, Professor Cao Jianming, Grand Justice of the First Rank and Vice President of the Supreme Court of P.R. China, delivered his keynote speech.

At the plenary session, Professor Juwana made an important announcement that a new category of ASLI membership would be created, and application would be open to any law teaching university or research institute. This meant that colleagues from member institutions could apply for one of the proposed additional ASLI fellowships. This decision was made at the Board of Governors’ meeting one day before the conference in response to great enthusiasm expressed by many institutions during the past two conferences. He promised that more details would be available on the ASLI website soon.

After the morning coffee break, Professor Liu Xiaohong, Director of the International Exchange Center, gave a detailed report on the organization of the conference and highlighted special features of this year’s programme such as the closing ceremony at their new Songjiang campus and the shuttle bus services between the hotels and the conference venues provided for the convenience of participants.

Associate Professor Alexander Loke of the National University of Singapore and Chief Editor of the Asian Journal of Comparative Law took to the stage next. After a humorous illustration to promote the Journal, he presented a video clip to introduce the Journal before the official launch by Professor Juwana. Over 80 copies of the inaugural issue of the Journal were pre-ordered by the participants. Over the duration of the conference, another 20 copies or so were sold.

All thirteen ASLI Board of Governors were invited on stage thereafter to brief the participants on "Key Legal Developments in 2005 in Asia" on some of the key developments of law in their own jurisdictions. The panel sessions followed in the afternoon.

The closing ceremony was held at ECUPL’s new campus in Songjiang, a 45-minute drive from the main conference venue at the Changning campus. After a speech by Associate Professor Gary Bell, Director of ASLI and a closing address by Mr Du Zhichun, Chairman of the Governing Committee of ECUPL, the University of Indonesia presented a video clip to showcase their plans and facilities to woo participants to next year’s conference. This brought the conference to an official close.

The participants were brought round the Songjiang campus for a brief tour where they were awed by the state-of-the-art facilities and the spaciousness of the campus. An optional evening cruise along the HuangPu River with dinner organized by ECUPL added a final touch of nostalgia as those present were treated to the beautifully-lit buildings with different architectural styles including Gothic, Baroque, Romanesque, Classicism and the Renaissance along the Bund, a famous waterfront.

At the ASLI Board of Governors’ meeting, held a day before the conference, the new Chairman and Vice-Chairman were elected. They are Professor Nik Ahmad Kamal Nik Mahmod of International Islamic University Malaysia and Professor Johannes Chan of the University of Hong Kong respectively. The Board of Governors also expressed its appreciation to the outgoing Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Board, Professor Hikmahanto Juwana from the University of Indonesia and Professor Nik Ahmad Kamal Nik Mahmod of International Islamic University Malaysia. Universitas Indonesia. The Governors also welcomed the newest member of the grouping, the University of Malaya. In total, there are now thirteen founding member universities of ASLI. At the meeting, approval was given to start the LL.M. in Asian Legal Studies and to admit more ASLI members, while reports on the Asian Journal of Comparative Law and the ASLI Fellowship Programme were filed. ECUPL also provided a detailed account of the organization of this year’s conference.

The next ASLI conference will be convened in Jakarta and hosted by the University of Indonesia on Thursday and Friday, 24th and 25th May 2007. The theme is "The Voice from Asia: Toward More Equitable Legal System of the World". More information will be available on the ASLI website in September 2006.

Opening Address on the 3rd Asian Law Institute Conference by Cao Jianming, Grand Justice of the first rank and Vice President of the Supreme People’s Court of the People’s Republic of China ( May 25th, 2006)


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