Secretary for Justice, Paul Lam, emphasises Hong Kong’s commitment to international law at the 2023 Colloquium

Paul Lam

7th December 2023 – (Hong Kong) The Secretary for Justice, Mr. Paul Lam, delivered a keynote speech at the 2023 Colloquium on International Law, highlighting Hong Kong’s dedication to the rule of law and its important role in navigating the current international legal order. The event, organized by the Asian Academy of International Law (AAIL) and the Chinese Society of International Law, provided a platform for discussions and exchanges on various significant topics related to international law.

Mr. Lam expressed gratitude for the invitation to speak at the event and commended the AAIL and the AAIL Foundation for their efforts in organizing this annual gathering, which has facilitated meaningful discussions on international law.

The theme of this year’s colloquium is “Navigating the Current International Legal Order.” The morning session focused on the challenges and opportunities in international trade, while the afternoon session delved into the topic of harmonious regional cooperation and rules of conduct. These topics are particularly relevant in a time of rapid global changes and complex challenges, including the rise of unilateralism and protectionism, which have posed significant threats to the international legal order.

Mr. Lam highlighted the importance of reinforcing a rule-based international order in the face of these challenges. He acknowledged the unwavering commitment of the Chinese government in promoting the rule of law at both domestic and international levels. He referenced the Law on Foreign Relations of the People’s Republic of China, passed by the Standing Committee of the 14th National People’s Congress, which emphasizes the advancement of the rule of law in foreign affairs and the strengthening of multilateral and bilateral dialogues on the rule of law.

Hong Kong plays a crucial role in maintaining and promoting the rule of law internationally. Under the “one country, two systems” principle, Hong Kong has the authority to maintain and develop relations with foreign states and regions, participate in international organizations and conferences, and conclude agreements in various fields. Mr. Lam highlighted Hong Kong’s active involvement in maintaining a rule-based international trading system and its support for the World Trade Organization (WTO). He mentioned Hong Kong’s separate membership within the WTO and its participation in disputes, which have contributed to clarifying important legal principles of WTO law.

Mr. Lam also emphasised Hong Kong’s role as a centre for international legal and dispute resolution services in the Asia-Pacific region. With its expertise in bridging different legal systems and connecting diverse legal traditions, Hong Kong serves as a “super connector” between the Mainland and the rest of the world. He highlighted Hong Kong’s support for online dispute resolution and lawtech, noting the establishment of the DoJ Project Office for Collaboration with UNCITRAL and Hong Kong’s participation in the APEC Collaborative Framework for Online Dispute Resolution of Cross-Border Business-to-Business Disputes.

The Secretary for Justice also discussed the growing importance of mediation in resolving international legal disputes. He highlighted the establishment of the International Organisation for Mediation (IOMed) Preparatory Office in Hong Kong, which aims to provide mediation services for settling international disputes. Mr. Lam emphasised that seeking peaceful means for settling international disputes is crucial for international peace, security, and justice.

Capacity building in international law was another key area of focus in Mr. Lam’s speech. He highlighted the numerous training and capacity building programs in Hong Kong that contribute to developing and maintaining a sound international legal order. These programs cover various areas of law and practice, including international law, private international law, and arbitration. He mentioned recent events such as the Hague Conference on Private International Law’s Asia Pacific Week and the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law Asia Pacific Judicial Summit, which took place during Hong Kong Legal Week. Mr. Lam also mentioned the upcoming edition of The Hague Academy of International Law’s Advanced Course in Hong Kong, which will focus on international commercial and investment dispute settlement.