German-Chinese Judge Exchange Program
Societies in Transformation

German-Chinese Judge Exchange Program

The dialog regarding the rule of law established between the Federal Republic of Germany and the People’s Republic of China in the year 2000 is an instrument of professional and political cooperation in the field of law and supports the reform process within the Chinese legal system. It is carried out at the highest political level, with judges only involved in passing. With its German–Chinese Judge Exchange Program, the Robert Bosch Stiftung, working in cooperation with the German Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit ("association for international collaboration" – GIZ), has closed this gap since 2011.

Sharing Ideas and Experiences on a Professional Level as Equals

The project encompasses professional trips by Chinese and German judges from select Chinese provinces and German states to the other country. The professional relationships formed during these trips are then strengthened through subsequent trips. During these trips, ten judges from a Chinese partner province visit the respective partner German state for approximately ten days, during which time they collegially share their experiences with their foreign counterparts. Afterwards, ten German judges travel in the other direction and visit their colleagues in China. The follow-up trips to strengthen these professional relationships are carried out in the following years over a period of about six days, with between six and eight judges taking part.

The focus of the trips is moderated workshops, in which the Chinese and German judges discuss practical cases and the application of the law during their everyday duties as well as their self-image as judges and issues of professional ethics. Visits to courthouses – particularly judicial proceedings – and other institutions within the justice system as well as leisure activities together round out the participants’ visit to the host country. As a result, the participants gain initial insights into the day-to-day work and external working conditions of their program partners. At the same time, they establish personal relationships, which promote mutual understanding.

Long-Term Partnerships – Personal Commitment

The participants from both countries gain insights into the legal practices in their host country and, furthermore, are able to get an idea of the significance and status of judges within the government and society. The exchange program places an emphasis on long-term partnerships and the personal commitment of the program’s participants. In this context, a particular focus is on preferably including Chinese provinces in the exchange program that have not had many opportunities to establish relationships with international contacts.

Project Partners

In addition to the Robert Bosch Stiftung and the GIZ, project partners on the Chinese side include the Supreme People’s Court of the People’s Republic of China in Beijing and the people’s courts of select provinces. On the German side, the justice departments and higher regional courts of select German states take part. The German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection supports the project.

The core of the partnerships, which have a bilateral and regional focus, is a partnership entered into – in April 2010 – by the High People’s Court in China’s Henan province and the Higher Regional Court in Stuttgart, Germany.