About the Program


The Asia Pacific Dispute Resolution (APDR) program is an international collaborative research initiative of the Institute of Asian Research at The University of British Columbia (UBC). Through activities in field data collection and research, graduate and undergraduate student training, a post-doctoral fellowship initiative, conference and workshop activities, and a publication series, the APDR program supports research, analysis and policy proposals aimed at building knowledge on how disputes are resolved across different cultures. It further aims to illuminate how elements of perception, complementarity, legitimacy and possibly other factors emerge and inform dynamics of conformity and diversity and hence, how these affect the processes and results of a dispute resolution. The research focuses on the application of different dispute resolution mechanisms in the human rights and international trade arenas.

Both disagreements over specific issues and general differences of perspective on issues of trade and human rights are manifested through disputes involving states, business actors, civil society organizations and individuals across the Asia-Pacific region. Trade disputes in the areas of anti-dumping, subsidies, and transparency, for example, have challenged cooperative relations between Canada, Japan, and China. Human rights disputes are also evident, over such issues as annual human rights reports, community and NGO challenges to infrastructure projects, and individual human rights claims within particular countries.

Focusing on Canada, China and Japan, the project will test existing hypotheses and generate new ones, about "selective adaptation" and related concepts that inform the exchange of practices and norms about trade and human rights dispute resolution across cultures. The project will support interview and archival research, as well as statistical and qualitative data analysis to explain interactions among local, foreign and international norms and practices. This will allow Canadian and international communities of scholars to move substantially beyond paradigms associated with institutional performance (North, Pistor & Wellons, Stiglitz), cultural essentialism (Barth, Geertz, Huntington) and behavioral law and economics (Coase, Mattei, Rostein) currently used to explain dispute resolution and cross-cultural relations, to pursue new perspectives for building cultural communication and reconciliation. Based on the knowledge generated, the project will generate policy proposals for building dispute resolution programs, processes and institutions that are more responsive to cross-cultural differences. The results of the research will enable interdisciplinary scholars and policymakers in Canada and internationally to understand better the requirements for effective cross-cultural dispute resolution, thus strengthening efforts to build a community of trade and human rights compliance in the Asia-Pacific region. The research results will also enable Canadian policymakers to address needs of cross-cultural dispute resolution practice in our multi-cultural environment. The knowledge generated by the proposed research will also be useful to inform future studies of other cross-cultural policy issues such as environmental protection, health care, and technology policy.

Working closely with the Faculty of Law at UBC, the APDR program has corresponding research partners in Japan, China, the United States, and Australia. These academic partners come from the respective faculties of law at Kyushu University, Kyoto University, and Waseda University in Japan; Lanzhou University, The Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences and Peking University in China; Pepperdine University, Willamette University, and George Mason University in the United States; and Bond University and the University of Melbourne in Australia. Key co-investigators also come from other disciplines of research such as Asian studies, community and regional urban planning, anthropology and psychology as well as from faculties of business and commerce. The academic team is further strengthened by members of an advisory board who represent professional associations of dispute resolution organizations such as the China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission and governmental agencies such as the Supreme Court of Canada.


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