Activities of the Legal Counsel of the
Visit by the United Nations Legal Counsel to San Remo, Italy, and Brussels, Belgium
7 to 16 September 2016
San Remo, Italy - 7 to 9 September 2016
The International Institute for Humanitarian Law in Sanremo is one of the leading institutions in the field of international humanitarian law. The Office of Legal Affairs regularly sends junior staff member for training and senior staff members to lecture at the Institute. The Round Table is the annual flagship event of the Institute that it co-organizes with the International Committee of the Red Cross. The Round Table brings together leading experts, practitioners, academics as well as military officers together to discuss current issues in the field of international humanitarian law. This year’s framework topic was “Weapons and the International Rule of Law”. At the opening of the conference, Mr. Serpa Soares delivered a message by the Secretary-General . Later in the conference, he delivered the keynote address for the 2016 Round Table in his capacity as United Nations Legal Counsel. In his speech , Mr. Serpa Soares described today’s role of the United Nations in matters of international humanitarian law as well as the development of international humanitarian law as we, in the Secretariat, perceive it. Against this background, he then commented on the question of compliance with international humanitarian law and elaborated in greater detail on important issues such as the protection of civilian mandates for our peacekeeping operations and the question of humanitarian access.
The UN Legal Counsel, Mr. Serpa Soares, speaks at the annual IIHL and ICRC round table
Brussels, Belgium - 13 to 16 September 2016
From 13 to 16 September 2016, Mr. Serpa Soares visited Brussels at the invitation of the Chairman of the Committee of Legal Advisers on International Law of the Council of Europe (CAHDI), Mr. Paul Rientjens, Legal Adviser in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belgium. CAHDI is an important forum for exchange on current topical issues of international law. Having previously and for many years represented his own country in CAHDI, Mr. Serpa Soares was pleased to be received by his former colleagues as a “special guest”. In the keynote address that he was invited to deliver, Mr. Serpa Soares focused essentially on three topics, the questions of accountability in South Sudan, the reaction by the United Nations to the instances of sexual exploitation and abuse in the Central African Republic, current issues in the field of the protection of the immunities of the United Nations, including how the United Nations is dealing with the issue of cholera in Haiti. There was an overwhelming interest in the keynote address as every Legal Adviser of the Council of Europe Member States or Observers deals with one or more of the issues that were presented. Mr. Serpa Soares’s speech was followed by a discussion of over an hour on those topics, which gave him the opportunity to clarify OLA’s and the UN’s position on those issues in great detail.
The UN Legal Counsel, Mr. Serpa Soares, addresses CAHDI
Mr. Serpa Soares used the opportunity of his presence in Brussels to have meetings with his counterparts in the principal organs of the European Union. He met with Mr. Hubert Legal, Director General of the Legal Service of the Council, with Mr. Luis Romero Requena, Director General of the Legal Service of the Commission, Mr. Freddy Drexler, and the Head of the Legal Unit of the European External Action Service, Mr. Gert-Jan van Hegelsom. The meetings were very useful to get a good sense of what the most important current legal issues in the European Union are, and to brief his counterparts on topical legal issues at the United Nations.