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China's draft mediation law aims to make conflict settlement a neighborhood issue

06-23-2010 09:38 BJT

BEIJING, June 22 (Xinhua) -- Wanted: good citizens who are "righteous, sociable and warm-hearted," and willing to step into a dispute and knock heads together.

Those would be the requirements for members of people's mediation committees, which would be set up around China under a draft law that went before the country's top legislature Tuesday for its first review.

The People's Mediation Law would encourage people to settle disputes at neighborhood-level, outside of courts and arbitration.

Mediation was the "first line of defense" for solving social disputes and maintaining social stability, said Justice Minister Wu Aiying when introducing the draft law to the bimonthly session of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC).

In China, people traditionally regard going to court as a very serious move, so resolving disputes through mediation has become popular.

China has more than 4.9 million mediators, working in more than 800,000 mediation committees, according to the Ministry of Justice.

These organizations handled more than 7.67 million disputes last year, with a 97.2-percent resolution rate, while only 1 percent went on to litigation, said Wu.

The draft law would institutionalize the people's mediation committee as the legal organization to resolve everyday disputes. It sets down the procedure for establishing such an organization under community committees, such as the resident or villager committees.

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