UN Meeting Promotes Online Dispute Resolution in Asia and the Pacific

6th International Forum held in Hong Kong, China

With the rapid growth in e-trade, regulators need better ways to ensure the security of online transactions. The UN’s World International Property Organization (WIPO) has used its online dispute resolution (ODR) mechanism to arbitrate 25,000 cases of cyber squatting since 1999. This combined with the more than one million online disputes that have been handled by private companies, makes ODR a necessary for secure online trade.

Asia, which already has 50 per cent of the world’s internet and cell phone users, is quickly increasing its information and communication technology connectivity, making ODR increasingly importance to the region. However, there is a critical gap between connectivity and the regulatory and legal framework for dispute resolution. This legal infrastructure is essential for the development of the region’s nascent information economy.

Against this backdrop, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) organized the Sixth International Forum on Online Dispute Resolution in Hong Kong, China, on 4 and 5 December 2007, in collaboration with the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre, Faculty of Law of the University of Hong Kong, and the China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission.

Sin Chung Kai of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong, China, told the Forum that online dispute resolution is the most critical component for establishing an information hub at the national, regional and global levels.

The two-day Forum held five expert panels with intensive discussions by ICT lawyers, economists and technical experts. These discussions covered topics such as ODR and it’s socio-economic impact; ODR, domain names and e-government; ODR and legal implications for intellectual property rights, jurisdiction and applicable law; ODR and its impact on developing and least developed countries.

The Secretary General of the International Chamber of Commerce’s (ICC), International Court of Arbitration, Deputy Secretary General of the China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) Ombudsman, and President of Internet Bar Association were joined by ODR professionals from Asia, Europe and America. Fifty regional and international speakers and panelists contributed to the discussions.