|Abstract as per original application
This project will explore the development of community-investor dispute prevention and facilitation mechanisms in the context of the Belt and Road Initiative (“BRI”). As an infrastructure financing initiative, the BRI aims to strengthen infrastructure linkages along the Belt and Road corridor spanning Asia, Africa and Europe. Given the wide-scale impact of China’s multi-jurisdictional development initiative, understanding how best to coordinate with local communities is vital to realizing the benefits of sustainable growth. In the 20 years since the development of the first multilateral community-investor dispute resolution mechanism – established by the International Finance Centre/World Bank ("IFC") – much has been learned about public facilitation, community engagement and dispute prevention during the early stages of major infrastructure development programs. With the creation of the International Commercial Dispute Prevention and Settlement Organization under the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade in April 2019, dispute prevention through community engagement has taken center stage in China’s dispute settlement policy and has become a mandatory pre-infrastructure project assessment requirement. Thus far, only limited systematic examination has been undertaken of the contours of community-investor dispute prevention, its relationship with formal dispute resolution mechanisms, and overall contribution to sustainable development in the context of the BRI. To address this gap, the present research will be the first comprehensive study of its kind to analyze mandatory BRI dispute prevention mechanisms within the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank ("AIIB") and the Asian Development Bank ("ADB") to determine whether ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?’ in community-investor dispute resolution. In particular, it will assess the impact of the nature of community engagement (elective/mandatory) on the incidence, frequency and subsequent resolution of project related disputes. Drawing on a case-based methodology, it will explore the achievements, challenges and lessons learned in community-investor dispute prevention and resolution for major infrastructure projects with a view to providing relevant recommendations from a devolved collaboration perspective. The project will result in new insights regarding the conditions for successful community-investor engagement applicable not only in the greater China region but beyond. The findings will be disseminated through a research monograph, journal articles and conference presentations.