On May the 23rd and 24th this year, the historic tenth annual conference of the Asian Law Institute (ASLI) was held at the National Law School, India University (NLSIU) in Bangalore, India. The event was doubly significant this year as 2013 marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the founding of NLSIU. The conference therefore offered a perfect opportunity for participants to reflect on the achievements and on-going progress of both of these important institutions and on the state of legal education and scholarship in Asia more generally.
The theme chosen for the conference underlined the reflective mood: Celebrating Diversity: Ten Years of ASLI. The quality of diversity was inescapable over the two days of the conference, given the wide range of nationalities present. 155 participants joined the conference from no less than 24 countries, with the largest contingents coming from India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Sri Lanka, reflecting the present South and South-East Asian focus of ASLI. Less numerous, but no less prominent, were participants from the East Asian countries of China, South Korea and Japan. And, reflecting the far reach of ASLI, participants also joined us from as far afield as Australia, UK, USA and Brazil.
Diversity was also very much in evidence in the subject matter of the papers delivered. ASLI conferences seek to bring together scholars working across the whole range of legal areas, with emphasis placed not on particular areas of law, but the distinctly Asian quality of the experience or issue. With this in mind, seven sub-themes were identified: Criminal and Family Law, International and Transnational Regulation, Constitutional Law, Human Rights, International and Comparative Law, Intellectual Property, Technological and Environmental Law and, finally, Law and Development. As has become customary at the annual ASLI conference, papers were presented over the course of five rounds of seven parallel sessions, with the sessions spread over two days.
The first day of the conference began in the customary manner, with participants given a warm welcome by Professor R. Venkata Rao, Vice-Chancellor of the National Law School. Professor Rao was joined in offering this welcome by Andrew Harding, the Director of the Asian law Institute and the Centre for Asian Legal Studies, and Li Ming, chairman of the ASLI Board of Governors. This was quickly followed by the Conference keynote speech, which this year was delivered by our honoured guest, Ms Indira Jaisingh. Among her many accomplishments, Ms Jaisingh has served as the first woman Additional Solicitor General and the first woman Senior Advocate of the Bombay High Court. In addition, Ms Jaisingh was the first Indian woman to be appointed to the UN Committee on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, and her organization Lawyer’s Collective was responsible for the drafting and adoption of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act in 2005.
With the opening festivities concluded, the conference could begin in earnest. Over 80 papers were delivered over the course of the first day, with topics ranging from the plight of migrant domestic workers in Singapore, reform of corporate governance in Japan, the protection and exploitation of traditional knowledge in Sri Lanka, patent infringement in Taiwan, to the role of customary law in conflict resolution in Indonesia. The panels were uniformly well-attended, with the papers invariably generating energetic discussion.
At the end of the first day’s panels, the Conference Welcome Dinner was held in the Quadrangle of the NLSIU, the highlight of which was an impressive cultural programme presented by the talented students of NLSIU.
The second day of the conference began with the Distinguished Lecture. This year, the lecture was delivered by Mr. Justice Goda Raghuram, retired judge of the High Court of Andhra Pradesh. This was followed by two further rounds of panel sessions, before the conference was concluded with a presentation by Mr Magesan Avayoo, inviting participants to attended 11th conference in 2014, at the Faculty of Law, University of Malaya, in Kuala Lumpur.
On their way back to their hotels, participants were treated to a short sightseeing trip before the conference was truly concluded with a lavish dinner held at the ITC Windsor hotel.
For pictures of the conference visit the ASLI Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Asian-Law-Institute/438342726236158?ref=hl