“International law is driven by Asian countries”: Singapore Justice Minister K Shanmugam | EXCLUSIVE


The traditional centers of commercial arbitration were London and the United States, which were also the centers of business and economics. Today, the top five shopping malls are in Asia. Moreover, the development of geopolitical ideas and international laws and conventions are also boosted by Asian economies, Singapore’s Justice Minister K Shanmugam said in an exclusive interview with India Today.

New Delhi,UPDATED: October 6, 2022 12:57 IST

“International law is driven by Asian countries”: Singapore Justice Minister K Shanmugam |  EXCLUSIVE

K Shanmugam, Minister of Justice, Singapore, addressing ‘Singapore Convention Week’ (Photo: File)

By Aneesha Mathur: With a recent surge in cooperation between India and Singapore in the areas of law, business and trade, India Today spoke exclusively with K Shanmugam, Minister of Law of Singapore. The interview, held on September 23, took place shortly after the “Singapore Convention Week”, and an inter-ministerial delegation from Singapore visited India.

“The traditional centers of commercial arbitration were London and the United States, which were the centers of business and economy. Now the top five malls are in Asia,” the minister said.

“In the past, the law was made in London, you had time too. The trade has grown and you have had time to examine it and slowly develop rules. Today, the pace of change is exponential. Laws and frameworks need to be developed at a similar pace. Second, it’s not done in one place anymore, it’s across the world. How to get countries around the world to develop common standards? It’s going to be a big challenge,” Shanmugam said.

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“The types of economies are different depending on the country. Singapore’s role has been that of a trusted neutral party in resolving disputes,” the minister said. “The support that the government reflects is extremely important,” he added.

He also highlighted the role played by international bodies such as the UN and UNCITRAL in ensuring that rules and laws are applied uniformly in all countries for trade.

“I think the big countries, the big economies, will start to develop the rules for their own economies and the others may have to look at that and see what works and what doesn’t work and hopefully some sort of A sensible international framework is developed in the various fields. This requires a lot of international cooperation,” he added.

With trade and business developments being driven by multiple technological and economic powerhouses, the Singaporean minister also told India Today that current progress is “growing faster than the ability of the international community to frame rules.”

“I suspect that India, China and the United States will develop their own rules for managing the internal economy, but there will also be people working in multiple jurisdictions trying to find commonalities. UNCITRAL can play an important role. They bring people together from all over the world and say, let’s have some sensible mediation rules. So you need a UN-like body to bring people together to formulate rules. But it takes time. Meanwhile, countries will just have to frame rules and manage themselves,” the minister said.

Regarding international commercial arbitration, the Minister said that the development of new centers “is not a zero-sum game” as the development of new centers in Asia would facilitate business and economic growth, and Singapore does not see it as a reduction in its role in settling international trade disputes. “We are perceived as an attractive and neutral party. Singapore is a service center for dispute resolution,” the minister said, adding that dispute resolution centers in India and China are growing due to the role of their large savings.

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Shanmugam, who also previously held the Foreign Office portfolio, said it was important to ensure that international law “keeps pace” with commercial and technological developments.

“There was an ICC survey in 2021, where 83% of respondents said that before 2020 technology was underused,” the justice minister said, adding that while in key situations, the in-person meetings were still preferred, technologies such as artificial intelligence were. now used to sort through volumes of documents and assist in litigation management by defining issues and discovering documentation.

Singapore has played a key role in international dispute resolution and the development of arbitration and mediation centers in other Asian countries. Singapore’s Justice Minister also pointed out that due to the size of their economies, the role of arbitration based in Beijing and Mumbai is growing, while Dubai and Seoul are also growing as settlement hubs. international trade disputes.


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