Dec. 13 – The Hague Conference on International Private Law (HCCH), the world’s leading intergovernmental organization in the field of private international law, established its first Asia-Pacific regional office in Hong Kong today.
Yuan Guoqiang, the Secretary of Justice of Hong Kong, described the establishment of the office as “a vote of confidence in Hong Kong’s legal system” and “a milestone in Hong Kong’s development into a global legal center.”
HCCH has mainly focused on European affairs in the past, however, due to the fast development of the Asia-Pacific region, the organization began to realize that its coverage in the Asia-Pacific region was insufficient in terms of both member states and states that are party to Hague Conventions. Therefore, during the Hague’s Third Asia Pacific Regional Conference held in Hong Kong in 2008, all attending delegations agreed “to encourage the Permanent Bureau, in cooperation with member states in the region, to consider ways in which its presence and representation in the region might be strengthened,” and proposed to set up an office in the region.
With the support from the central government, the government of Hong Kong started lobbying to bring the office to Hong Kong in 2009, and in April this year, the HCCH decided to set up its Asia-Pacific regional office in Hong Kong. This decision was hailed by Wong Yanlung, the then-Secretary of Justice of Hong Kong, as “a significant vote of confidence in Hong Kong’s position as a regional legal services center by an international institution of high reputation.”
Huang Huikang, director general of the Foreign Ministry’s Department of Treaty and Law, attributed the successful opening of the office in Hong Kong to years of efforts made by the local government. He also pointed out that the legal services industry is of vital importance to Hong Kong’s future development, and the establishment of the office will help to turn the region into an “international high-end legal service and dispute arbitration center,” as well as strengthen and improve the status of Hong Kong as a center for international trade, finance and services.
Since its first conference in 1893, HCCH has evolved into a leading global intergovernmental organization, which develops and services multilateral legal instruments on private international law. So far, HCCH has drawn up 39 international treaties or conventions in response to the needs of a globalizing international community, and there are now more than 130 countries participating in one or more of the Hague Conventions.
China is a member of the Hague Conference and representatives from Hong Kong have participated in the work of the Hague Conference as members of the Chinese delegation since 1998.
The Honorable Justice Hartmann, a member of the International Hague Network of Judges for many years, will become the first representative of the office.
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