On 2 September 2016, the third China-EU Legal Aid High Level Policy Dialogue Conference took place in Beijing.
The conference was organised by the British Council, the leading European delivery partner of the project, in conjunction with the National Legal Aid Center, Chinese Ministry of Justice. The British Council’s work within justice places an emphasis on building trust and legitimacy, empowering local citizens and fostering dialogue across and between communities, state agencies and civil society.
With a focus on ‘ensuring access to justice for people with special needs’, the conference played a proactive role in further enhancing the understanding and friendly relationship developed between China and Europe, alongside deepening exchanges and co-operation within the legal aid field.
The dialogue centred on a number of topics including a deeper look into policy making and best practice, and the main challenges and future development for the protection of special needs groups.
Experience from the EU shows that access to justice for all is best pursued by harnessing the efforts of all legal aid service providers. Effective coordination and cooperation on policy, planning and service delivery between government and non-government service providers is therefore the most effective way to ensure that legal aid services reach and are available to the most marginalised and vulnerable groups in society.
Mr. Asad Beg, Minister Counsellor and Head of Political, Press and Information Section, Delegation of the European Union to China; and Ms. Bai Ping, Director General of Legal Aid Department from Chinese Ministry of Justice, both attended the opening ceremony.
‘The programme supports the efforts of national justice sector actors to make justice accessible to everyone in society. We do this by facilitating professional exchanges between law and policy-makers, legal and sociological researchers, practising lawyers, paralegals and legal and social Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs)’, said Ms Carma Elliot CMG OBE, Minister (Culture and Education), Cultural and Education of the British Embassy, who attended the event reception.
More than 90 experts participated in the conference, with international participants attending from the UK, France, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Finland and Australia. Chinese participants came from Ministry of Justice, China Legal Aid Foundation, Beijing Disabled Association, Beijing Yilian Legal Aid and Research Center of Labour, China University of Political Science and Law, the local judicial department (bureau) and the Legal Aid Department (centre) from 12 provinces of China.