Silk Road Legal Cooperation Network (SRLCN)
We are an independent think tank of professionals in law, trade, ICT and related fields who advocate promoting legal cooperation among countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). We are engaged in a productive discourse on promoting green, inclusive and sustainable development along the Belt and Road. Facilitating the formation of a stable legal foundation for the BRI is among key objectives of the think tank.
SRLCN is a pro bono initiative of LexEcon Consulting Group - a legal consulting company with a global reach.
SRLCN is a partner of the Belt and Road International Green Development Coalition (BRIGC | http://en.brigc.net/) of the Foreign Environmental Cooperation Office, Ministry of Ecology and Environment of China. Also a member of the United Cities and Local Governments - Asia Pacific Committee on Belt and Road Local Cooperation (BRLC | UCLG-ASPAC | https://www.brlc.org.cn/) based in Hangzhou, China.
Why legal cooperation along the Belt and Road?
As the BRI continues to develop, the need for legal cooperation arises to meet the demand for 'soft infrastructure', namely the institutions that help maintain legal, regulatory and financial systems, information technology services, etc. Soft infrastructure is a vital element for strengthening the BRI’s hard infrastructure, namely physical connectivity via conducive transportation networks.
In this context, "legal cooperation along the Belt and Road" means and includes cross-border collaboration in law enforcement through consistent legal, regulatory and administrative procedures and practices. Effective legal cooperation necessitates harmonization of different legal provisions or systems by eliminating major differences and creating minimum requirements or standards leading to legal certainty, consistency and predictability.
Promoting legal cooperation is the path to laying a stable legal foundation for the BRI towards realizing the shared vision of all participating countries. A stable legal foundation would consist of a framework of rules and systems capable of providing legal support and safeguards across borders for the BRI, i.e., a harmonised legal regime, based on the principles of fairness, transparency and non-discrimination.
The need to develop a stable legal foundation for the BRI is articulated in the Statement of Co-Chairs of the Forum on Belt and Road Legal Cooperation jointly held by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China and China Law Society on 3 July 2018, Beijing, China (https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/mfa_eng/wjbxw/t1573635.shtml). This Statement recommends "all parties participating in the BRI develop multi-level, multi-channel and comprehensive legal cooperation by exploring the establishment of cooperation mechanisms, identifying priorities through consultation, making action plans progressively, solving legal issues effectively and building consensus constantly, in order to lay a solid legal foundation for the BRI". As a way forward, the Statement suggests that further discussions under the theme of the BRI legal cooperation be conducted in appropriate forums in the future.
To facilitate the development of a stable legal foundation for the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) enabling all participating countries to harness its growth potential towards achieving sustainable development in all dimensions – economic, social, cultural and environmental.
What we do (Objectives)
1. To engage in a productive dialogue on:
(a) strengthening legal cooperation and exchanges along the Belt and Road aimed at developing a green, carbon neutral and sustainable BRI.
(b) leveraging the development benefits of the BRI towards realizing the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
(c) digitalization of the BRI, making innovations in existing forms of trade, trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, increasing market access, and gradually reducing and eliminating barriers to trade and investment along the Belt and Road.
2. To provide a platform for sharing information and knowledge relating to:
(a) the legal and regulatory issues and aspects of jointly building the Belt and Road in its five priority areas of policy coordination, facilities connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration and people-to-people bonds; and
(b) the collaborative enforcement of laws along the Belt and Road relating to trade, investment, financing, taxation, transportation, intellectual property rights, environmental protection, labor, anti-terrorism, the fight against transnational crimes, etc.
3. To promote awareness of the importance of ratifying the following international Convention and Agreements by all countries participating in the BRI as a means of achieving harmonised trade facilitation (including digital trade facilitation) along the Belt and Road:
(b) the Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Cross-border Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific by all UNESCAP member countries participating in the BRI. This Framework Agreement is a UN treaty deposited with the Secretary General of the United Nations in New York, which aims at accelerating the implementation of digital trade facilitation measures by 53 member States of the UNESCAP (United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific); and
(c) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) by countries who are yet to ratify it and to expedite the implementation of provisions relating to digital trade facilitation mechanisms.
4. To perform functions as a joint research network for the purpose of providing support and policy recommendations on building a stable legal foundation for the BRI; and
5. To organize outreach activities for advancing legal cooperation along the Belt and Road.