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Organization in pipeline to end disputes

By Zhang Yunbi | China Daily | Updated: 2023-02-28 07:05
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China plays crucial role in setting up intl mediation body for resolving conflicts

Fariz Mehdawi, Palestinian ambassador to China, is one of many foreign diplomats impressed by the proposed International Organization for Mediation — the world's first intergovernmental legal organization dedicated to peacefully resolving international disputes through mediation.

China is one of the founding countries of the organization. A joint statement was signed last year for its future establishment and an office was opened in Hong Kong this month to help conduct preparatory work.

The world "needs a responsible country" such as China to initiate such an effort, the ambassador said.

"Peace is not something given, we have to achieve it. And to achieve it, you need to have people who are balanced or neutral," he said, underscoring the need to "live in a world which is peaceful, which is good for all".

Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin has described the body as "a treaty-based international legal organization established through consultations among all parties".

"It will be a useful supplement to the existing dispute resolution institutions and means of dispute resolution, providing a new platform for the peaceful settlement of international disputes," Wang told reporters earlier this month.

Other signatories to the joint statement for the establishment of the organization include Indonesia, Pakistan, Laos, Cambodia, Serbia, Belarus, Sudan, Algeria and Djibouti.

Rob Harkavy from the Global Legal Group, a London-based media company specializing in the legal market, said the proposed organization "is in many ways a reflection of a global trend toward non-adversarial dispute resolution".

For decades, dispute resolution has seen intergovernmental organizations adjudicating international disputes "by way of litigation — for example, the International Court of Justice — and arbitration, such as the London Court of International Arbitration", Harkavy wrote in an article last year.

At the inauguration ceremony of the office on Feb 16, Foreign Minister Qin Gang said, "We are confident that the IOMed will fully leverage its unique strengths of being flexible, cost-effective and convenient, and present a new option to all countries for peaceful resolution of international disputes."

The organization is important to the principle of settling international disputes by peaceful means, which is enshrined in the United Nations Charter, Qin said. It "will also be a global public good for rule of law" to advance global governance system, he added.

In a congratulatory letter on the office's opening, Wang Yi, director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, expressed his hope that the office "will complete relevant negotiations at an early date" with the strong support of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government.

Co-founding the organization is in line with China achieving its ideal of seeking "common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security", scholars said.

The organization, together with initiatives such as the Global Security Initiative put forward by President Xi Jinping last year, are part of evolving Chinese solutions to try and ensure worldwide security, they added.

Wang Wen, executive dean of Renmin University of China's Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, said, "The Chinese solution for various conflicts is not relying on a piecemeal approach, but a series of substantial, incremental approaches that are introduced one after another."

"China is a major country that sincerely subscribes to peace as it has not engaged in any major foreign military conflicts over the past 40 years," he said.

"The Belt and Road Initiative, the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, China's assistance to other countries over past decades, as well as the expected International Organization for Mediation, are part of the country's lasting efforts to fulfill its commitment with actions," he added.

Ambassador Mehdawi said that unlike some countries, China "will not participate in inflaming the tensions in many regions of the world".

"As Palestinians, we appreciate the Chinese efforts everywhere, in the Middle East in particular, and in this Global Security Initiative," he said.

Sudan's acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Al-Sadiq said the idea of building the body was initiated by China to unify the visions of different countries around a common charter. The body also aims to remove international hegemony, and "does not contradict international conventions", Sudan News Agency quoted him as saying in October on the signing of the statement on the organization's establishment.

Legal experts noted the organization is being established at a time when dispute mediation is growing worldwide.

Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah, an arbitration specialist and Hong Kong's former justice secretary, said the organization is a "supplement to the existing international dispute settlement mechanism". She added that in Chinese culture "there has been a long history of handling diverging opinions and disputes through mediation or reconciliation".

"The importance of mediation is rising in the world", and the decision to set up the preparatory office in Hong Kong points to the city's strengths, Cheng told China News Service last week.

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