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STL Hosts the Second International Conference on Facts and Evidence – A Dialogue Between Law and History

On September 14th and 15th, Peking University School of Transnational Law (STL) successfully held the Second “International Conference on Facts and Evidence”. This conference was co-sponsored by the “2011 Plan” – Collaboration Innovation Center of Judicial Civilization, STL, and the Institute of Evidence Law and Forensic Science of China University of Political Science and Law (Key Laboratory of Evidence Science, Ministry of Education). It brought together distinguished jurists and historians from Peking University, Qsinghua University, China University of Political Science and Law and other top universities in an inter-disciplinary dialogue between law and history concerning facts and evidence.

The conference consisted of two units. The first unit discussed facts and evidence from the perspective of jurists while the second discussed them from the perspective of historians.

On September 14th, Professor Zhang Baosheng from China University of Political Science and Law moderated the first unit where four jurists presented their varying perspectives. Professor Zhang Baosheng focused on the comparative analysis of the methods used in evidence law and historical fact-finding. Professor Long Zongzhi from Sichuan University discussed the similarities and differences between the verification methods used in law and history. Professor Shu Guoying from China University of Political Science and Law gave a detailed analysis of three basic concepts of law and history: fact, evidence and proof. Finally, Professor Thomas Yunlong Man from STL took the Burr-Hamilton duel and the trial on Burr’s crime of treason as examples to make a comparison between historical research and fact-finding in judicial adjudication. Each speech was followed by a heated discussion.

On September 15th, Professor Thomas Yunlong Man from STL moderated the second unit where four historians presented their academic speeches. Professor Zhong Weimin from Qsinghua University illustrated his view that history is not an evidence science, neither is law. Professor Zhang Xupeng from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences discussed how historians treat evidence. Professor Li Longguo took the Donation of Constantine as an example to discuss the facts and evidence in historical changes. Finally, Associate Professor Feng Jinpeng from Tianjin Normal University illustrated his opinion on the “presumption of guilt” in the trial of Socrates. At the end of each speech, the lecturer answered questions from the experts and students to further their understanding.

This conference offered a unique opportunity for jurists and historians to discuss facts and evidence together and provided a forum for divergent perspectives to be heard. At the closing ceremony, Professor Thomas Yunlong Man highly praised Professor Zhang Baosheng’s foresight to promote the inter-disciplinary dialogue between law and other subjects concerning facts and evidence.

The two chairmen of the conference expressed their ardent anticipation for the Foreign Expert Workshop of the Second International Conference on Facts and Evidence, which is due to take place in November in STL.

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