In June of 1995, the Judicial Administration of Pudong New District in Shanghai, under the condition of adding no new staff, set up the Social Conflict Mediation Center aimed at preventing, resolving, and settling various civil conflicts and disputes. Taking joint action with 110 and 148 at the grassroots, the Center has resolved and settled various social conflicts and disputes that emerged in the process of reforming and opening to the outside world, and thus removed difficulties for people in the local communities.
Since its establishment, the Center has mediated more than 620 conflicts, 75 of which were quite significant. It has also mediated disputes in more than 70 important construction projects. Because of this, the Center has become famous as an indispensable and important force for maintaining social stability and guaranteeing the development of Pudong New District.
Since the reform and opening to the outside world, work of judicial administration has greatly expanded; however, it has also encountered enormous challenges. It is difficult for the traditional mediation system to handle the large number of social conflicts that have emerged. Such mediation also interrupts normal government functioning. The Social Conflict Mediation Center of Pudong New District was set up under these conditions, and it demonstrates significant innovation.
As the work of the Mediation Center is an extension and deepening of the functions of judicial administration, it is in accordance with the principle of efficiency to set up the Center without adding further human and material resources. With the deepening of reform and opening to the outside world, it is necessary to transform the function of the judicial administration. Various social conflicts will certainly increase and require the judicial administrative agencies to resolve them.
The working model of the mediation center is worthy of imitation by other judicial administration agencies in China. At present, much mediation work is done by judges in "out of court mediation." This kind of working method has already been abrogated in Hong Kong and abroad because it is hard to achieve fairness through coercion. On the other hand, the police administrative departments have too much power, and thus the direct interjection of the police force offers no help for solving such problems, but only deepens the conflicts and further hurts the masses. Therefore, the mediation work of social conflicts by judicial administrative agencies is of critical importance.
In recent years, Pudong New District has developed various government innovation programs in many fields; the mediation center of the Judicial Administration has great significance for institutional innovation. Our investigation reveals that the Mediation Center has received many awards from beneficiaries and from the masses, and this indicates that mediation work by judicial administration departments is warmly welcomed by the masses because it offers the following advantages.
- It provides adequate protection for the legal rights of all parties concerned and achieves the goal of reconciliation.
- It resolves many disputes that even the departments of public security and court system have difficulty solving; therefore, it makes an important contribution to the development of the judicial system.
- The work of the mediation center has critical social significance in guaranteeing social stability, and thus it receives close attention from the municipal leaders of Shanghai Municipality. Many judicial administrative agencies and departments from other parts of China come to Pudong to learn from their experience.