On January 29, 2021, the Swiss-Chinese Law Association Legal Negotiation Forum and the 13th SCLA Global Forum were held. The theme of this forum was diversity, gender, and strategy in legal negotiation. The forum was by invitation registration. There were 50 government officials, association presidents, lawyers, and legal experts from 20 countries worldwide who attended. Among the special guests of the forum were Xiaobing Tang, Senior Counsellor of the World Trade Organization; Peter Alfandary, Vice President of the French Chamber of Commerce; Philip Hackett, QC, 36 Group; Olga Tsiptse, lawyer of the Supreme Court of Greece and member of the Secretariat of the Movement for Change Party in the field of justice; Pawel Sikora , the founder of KKG Law Firm; Paulo Pinheiro Machado, Deputy Director of the European Department of the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Rakhi Rashmi, Barrister-at-Law appearing in England and Wales; Agada Elachi, President of the Chartered Institute of Mediators and Conciliators; Peter Ruggle, Partner at Ruggle Partner, Switzerland; Sherlin Tung, Partner at the Withers world Wide; Zhu Sha, Baker Hosteler international trade analyst, Ana Jaimes, Stein Ray LLP, Federico Antich, the Studio dell’Avvocato Federico Antich;
and the KUNZ Rechtsanwälte partner, Dr. Hernmann Knott.
Zhang Tianze, Director of the Swiss-Chinese Law Association, gave an opening speech. He said that Swiss-Chinese Law Association is an international organization with a global perspective, headquartered in Geneva, with 162 members from 14 countries, whose main objective is to build a high-end platform for Chinese and foreign lawyers to discuss international trade rules. The Association organizes monthly forums for its members to promote professional discussions and equal exchanges between members of different nationalities through different thematic dialogues. The Association also opened its office in Guangdong, China, two weeks ago in Qianhai, Shenzhen, and plans to establish another office in Shanghai. As the Association grows, it is believed that more members will benefit from the Association’s activities. Director Zhang Tianze also introduced the initial purpose of the forum theme establishment, the forum process, and the background of the speakers.
Afterward, Peter Alfandary, Vice President of the French Chamber of Commerce, gave the first presentation on “Cultural Diversity in Agreement Negotiations,” mentioning that his passion is finding the field of Culture Intelligence and studying the role of cultural diversity in international mediation. To study the impact of cultural diversity in international mediation and negotiation cases. He concluded that although cultural identity and understanding are not a big part of business negotiations, it reflects whether you understand the reasons and patterns behind the other party’s behavior and determines the success of a mediation case. He advises every international business negotiator to understand the cultural background of the other party before the negotiation, rather than studying it during the negotiation, and identification with this point will greatly help the success of the case.
Federico Antich, a lawyer from Italy, also brought a very interesting topic: the role of women in international arbitration and mediation. Antich threw out a set of figures —– in the report provided by the EU and the UK in 2020, only 36% of the arbitration panels were composed of women. However, Mr. Antich analyzed that although fewer women often hold important roles in important sectors, many strengths in women can be turned into powerful tools at the negotiation table. This topic resonated with the online participants, especially the female participants. There were lively discussions about the phenomenon of gender discrimination in their respective countries and workplaces, and in some cases, unconscious gender discrimination. While sexism may still exist in professions or society, the discussion was more about confronting such inequalities. The speeches were very enthusiastic, and attorney Zhu Sha from the American law firm believed dialogue and communication were the keys. Being honest with yourself, opening yourself up truthfully, and negotiating and talking with the other party is the best way to face the phenomenon of discrimination.
In addition to this topic, the speaker of this forum, Tang Xiaobing, also discussed the real multilateral trade negotiation from cultural conflict of interest from his own experience as a WTO counselor for more than 40 years. Sharing these experiences gave the participants a different perspective on international mediation.
The participants were also impressed by the sharing of Ana Jaimes, an attorney. She analyzed and discussed the topic of diversity from a female perspective, mentioning that diversity requires each person to treat the other with tolerance and empathy and keep themselves open to new things.
Peter Ruggle and Paulo Fernando Pinherio Machado also presented their perspectives on international mediation. They brought the attendees a great perspective from cooperation and negotiation power, combined with practical cases.
The conference ended with a lively discussion between the speakers and the participants.