Legal Cooperation Within BIMSTEC & BRI Connectivities

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China and India need to find convergence with their respective Belt Road Initiative (BRI) and the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) for which legal eagles may be able to find a common vision that is beneficial for both.

“OUR COLLECTIVE RESOLVE TO impart fresh momentum to the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) has provided hope and optimism. BIMSTEC not only connects South and Southeast Asia, but also the ecologies of the Great Himalayas and the Bay of Bengal. With shared values, histories, ways of life, and destinies that are interlinked, BIMSTEC represents a common space for peace and development. For India, it is a natural platform to fulfil our key foreign policy priorities of ‘Neighbourhood First’ and Act East'” —Prime Minister Narendra Modi, emphatically spelling out the importance of BIMSTEC’s success in his message on the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the organisation. This message reflects India’s desired distance from China led Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

India and China being two dominant powers of the region, the divide is likely to remain short of being bridged. Time will suggest whether the Tiger and the Dragon can share a zone of convergence and with what level of comfort. However, as evident in the backdrop of both BRI and BIMSTEC cooperation and connectivity initiatives, it is probably the legal eagles that could create some common vision and zone of convergence extending benefits to both structures. This article appreciates the existing legal dynamics of BIMSTEC and BRI to analyse whether synergies can be created and a common legal vision presented, irrespective of strategic, geopolitical, economic and cultural divergence. A regional legal system can be envisaged within the BIMSTEC to take care of drafting model laws, resolving disputes and enforcing judgments.

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