The purpose of the visit to Cairo was to meet with the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, H.E. Dr. Nabil El-Arabi. During his visit to New York in late September 2013, Dr. El-Arabi made a point to meet with the newly appointed United Nations Legal Counsel.
On this occasion he invited Mr. Serpa Soares to visit the League of Arab States Headquarters in Cairo. Dr. El-Arabi is a very distinguished international lawyer and diplomat with a long and impressive career and close ties to OLA. In the hour-long meeting with Dr. El-Arabi ways of further deepening the cooperation between the United Nations Secretariat and the League of Arab States Secretariat in legal matters in pursuit of Security Council PRST/2012/20 of 26 September 2012 were discussed.
Visit to Kigali (Rwanda), accompanying the Secretary-General, 4 to 7 April 2014
From 4 to 7 April 2014, Mr. Serpa Soares visited Kigali as a senior member of the Secretary-General's delegation and accompanied the Secretary-General in his meetings and activities. In the margins of the Secretary-General's visit, Mr. Serpa Soares took the opportunity to have an informal meeting with the President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Judge Vagn Joensen, and the Prosecutor of the ICRT, Mr. Hassan Jallow, who were also in Kigali for the "Kwibuka 20" ceremony. At the suggestion of the Secretary-General, Mr. Serpa Soares visited the Kigali Memorial Centre in Gisozi. The events, activities and meetings in Kigali on the occasion of the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda, the "Kwibuka 20", were deeply moving and allowed the Legal Counsel to connect at a deeper level with the important work of the ICTR in particular, but also with the work of the United Nations in the field of international criminal justice in general.
The Kigali Memorial Centre in Gisozi
In view of the unspeakable crimes that were committed in Rwanda we must never lose our resolve to fight impunity and to bring about an age of accountability. The Legal Counsel is very grateful to the Secretary-General for commending, in his speech on 7 April 2014 at Kigali Stadium, the remarkable work of the ICTR and for emphasizing how indispensable justice was for sustainable peace
Remarks at the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Kigali (Rwanda), 07 April 2014
Visit to Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), 8 and 9 April 2014
The third and last stop on this mission was Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where Mr. Serpa Soares formally opened the 2014 Regional Course in International Law for Africa on 8 April 2014, together with Mr. Abdalla Hamdok, Deputy Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Mr. Reta Nega, Legal Adviser in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, and Professor Adelardus Kilangi, the newly re-elected President of the African Union Commission on International Law.
Mr. Miguel de Serpa Soares, United Nations Legal Counsel, addressed the participants of
The Regional Course in International Law .
The Regional Courses in International Law are conducted under the United Nations Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law, which was established by the General Assembly in 1965. The Office of Legal Affairs has been conducting the Courses for almost half a century. These courses are something to which the Legal Counsel attaches importance, as he believes that they can produce dividends far in excess of their financial costs. Unfortunately, there is no provision for the courses in the current UN regular budget. In the past few months Mr. Serpa Soares has, therefore, made it a personal priority that the courses in Africa will be held in 2014 and 2015. In this respect, he engaged in intensive discussions in order to obtain voluntary contributions from Member States and regional organizations. Mr. Serpa Soares is delighted that thanks to the generosity of donors we have rescued this year's course. Contributions from the African Union, the European Union, Australia, China, Finland, New Zealand and the United Kingdom have ensured that this year's course could be held. The contribution of Australia - of US$150,000 - has been particularly crucial and the Legal Counsel underlined the gratitude of the Office of Legal Affairs to the authorities in Canberra and their representatives in New York for their generosity and commitment. Mr. Serpa Soares will aim to raise further funds to ensure that the Course can also be held in 2015. The Regional Courses in International Law are a contribution to strengthening international law and through that to the advancement of all three pillars of the work of the United Nations. This year's course attracted over 30 participants coming from almost 20 countries from across the African continent, including from countries such as South Sudan and Zimbabwe. Most of the participants are young civil servants working in their respective Ministries of Foreign Affairs or Justice but there were also official from the African Union Commission Office of Legal Affairs and from academia.
The Legal Counsel with partners, donor representatives and participants of the 2014 Regional Course in International Law for Africa
While in Addis Ababa, the Legal Counsel was received by H.E. Mr. Erastus Mwencha, Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission. He briefed Mr. Mwencha on the Regional Course in International Law and the current state of affairs with regard to the cooperation between the UN Office of Legal Affairs and the AU Commission Office of Legal Affairs.
The Legal Counsel meets with H.E. Mr. Erastus Mwencha, Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission
Mr. Serpa Soares also took the opportunity of his brief visit to Addis Ababa to meet with Mr. Carlos Lopes, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, and with the Head of the United Nations Office to the African Union, SRSG Haile Menkerios.