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The Third East Asia Law & Society Conference

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The Third East Asia Law & Society Conference was organized by the Collaborative Research Network 33 – East Asia Law & Society (EALS) and the SJTU Law and Society Center (http://www.socio-legal.sjtu.edu.cn/En/) in Shanghai on 22-23 March 2013.   The KoGuan Law School of the Shanghai Jiao Tong University, a rising law school and one of the best in Mainland China, hosted this conference, and aimed to build a platform for intellectual dialogue and collaboration between socio-legal scholars engaged in Asia-related studies and scholars seeking to enrich their research with findings from these regions.
 
In the last three decades the rapid economic development in Asia has attracted the attention of the whole world. Against such background, the establishment of the “Asian Community” has emerged on the political agenda. However, the common interest of East Asia, or even the whole Asia, has rested predominantly on economic interdependence and free trade. Common value recognition is nonetheless necessary for a super-national community. Therefore, the realization of the idea of the “Asian Community” depends not only on economic interest but also on political, institutional and cultural integration. Thus, the third EALS Conference set up the theme of “Building the Asian Socio-Legal Community: Theoretical Visions and Empirical Challenges”, and intended to push forward the law and society movement in Asia and to build a silk road of law and society. Driven by this goal, the host institution, the KoGuan Law School, expanded the coverage of the conference to the whole Asia and did not limit itself to “East Asia”.
 
In this regard, from all over the world, the two-day conference attracted around 300 academics, practitioners and governmental officials that are interested in Asia-related issues. More than 220 scholars presented their excellent research results in 43 forums or panels. Featured speakers included David Engel (State University of New York at Buffalo), Tom Ginsburg (University of Chicago), Andrew Harding (National University Singapore), Haicai Luo (former president of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference), Setsuo Miyazawa (Aoyama Gakuin University), Simon Roberts (London School of Economics and Political Science), Frank Upham (New York University), and David Wilkins (Harvard University). Moreover, the conference offered a broad range of socio-legal discussions relating to Asia, such as “Law and Development”, “Legal Profession”, “Legal Pluralism”, “Globalization, Lawyers, and Emerging Economies”, “Education, Work Environment, Specialization, Stratification, Satisfaction, and Concerns of New Attorneys in Japan”, “Law and Disaster”, “International Economic Law and Asia”, “Judicialization of Politics in Asia”, and “Regulatory Enforcement and Compliance”.
 
Furthermore, the conference purportedly introduced three forums corresponding to its theme, which were the Soft Law Forum, the Financial Law Forum and the Southeast Asia and Northeast Asia Dialogue Forum. The Soft Law forum paid attention to Asia’s cultural diversity and variability in social structure that resulted in the plethora of non-formal or formal rules with weak binding force or lack of enforcement. Participants of this forum investigated the possible role of soft law in the process of economic integration and order reconstruction of the Asian Community both in theory and in practice. The Financial Law forum was set on the outbreak of the global financial crisis in 2008, and reflected on the global system of financial capitalism. The focus of the discussion was the institutional arrangements for Asian financial cooperation, the legal environment necessary for building a financial centre, as well as the institutional design of a financial judiciary. Moreover, the Southeast Asia and Northeast Asia Dialogue Forum sought for the win-win relation and deep cooperation between Southeast Asia and Northeast Asia in the future.
 
For the first time, this conference provided a Postgraduate Workshop in network activities of East Asia Law and Social Cooperation. Early-career scholars and students from Asian countries joined together in mutual communication of their research findings and observations, and received suggestions and critical comments from internationally renowned scholars. This activity has been well received and was proposed to be continued for future conferences.
 
During the conference, the KoGuan Law School and Cambridge University Press launched the Asian Journal of Law and Society which aims to build a cultural silk road for Asia to communicate with the world in the 21st century. This journal is purported to add an increasingly important Asian perspective to global law and society scholarship. It encourages empirical and multi-disciplinary research on law and its relationship with society in Asia, contributions from an Asian perspective to socio-legal issues of global concern, and articles using Asia as a starting point for a comparative exploration of law and society topics. The journal will have its first issue in 2014. All contributions are encouraged to be submitted to editors@asianjls.org.
 
Finally, in order to carry forward the legacy of the Third East Asia Law & Society Conference, the KoGuan Law School also established the Asian Law Centre (http://asianlawcenter.sjtu.edu.cn/) which had its debut at the conference. The Center wants to be at the foreground of a dialogue between scholars and practitioners across the different jurisdictions on this vast Asian continent, and aims to build a network connecting Mainland China with the other parts of Asia.