From 27 to 31 October 2014, United Nations Headquarters was the venue for a busy "international law week" with a multitude of events. The Legal Counsel, Mr. Serpa Soares, participated in many events that took place during what is sometimes referred to as the "general debate" for lawyers.
On 27 October, Mr. Serpa Soares opened the 25th anniversary informal meeting of the Legal Advisers of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the Member States of the United Nations together with the Legal Adviser of the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Max Alberto Diener Sala. The meeting greatly benefitted from the meticulous preparation by Mr. Diener and his team in Mexico City and in the Mission of Mexico to the United Nations in New York. In his traditional address, Mr. Serpa Soares briefed the Legal Advisers on a range of topic the Office of Legal Affairs was confronted with during the past year, including its assistance in devising a UN response to the Ebola Virus Disease, activities regarding Oceans and the Law of the Sea, supporting international criminal justice, and advising on humanitarian access to and the removal of chemical weapons from the Syrian Arab Republic. For the first time, the traditional address to the Legal Advisers was delivered in Spanish and French which reflects Mr. Serpa Soares's strong attachment to multilingualism and the diversity of legal cultures in the United Nations.
The United Nations Legal Counsel, Mr. Serpa Soares, opens the Legal Advisers' meeting with Mr. Max Diener, Legal Adviser of the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs
In the framework of the Legal Advisers' meeting, Mr. Serpa Soares, chaired a historic meeting of four Legal Advisers of the United Nations. Mr. Hans Corell (United Nations Legal Counsel from March 1994 to March 2004), Professor Nicolas Michel (United Nations Legal Counsel from August 2004 to July 2008) and Ambassador Patricia O'Brien (United Nations Legal Counsel from August 2008 to August 2013) travelled to New York for this occasion and shared with the Legal Advisers their insights covering over 20 years of legal advice by the Office of Legal Affairs.
Nicolas Michel, Patricia O'Brien, Miguel de Serpa Soares and Hans Corell in the Trusteeship Council Chamber
The three former Legal Counsels also took the time to meet with the staff of the Office of Legal Affairs. In the meeting which brought back memories both for the former Legal Advises and for staff, the former Legal Advisers unanimously praised the outstanding commitment and the strong dedication to the purposes and principles of the Charter as well as the high professionalism of the staff of the Office of Legal Affairs.
The former Legal Counsels meet with OLA staff
In the evening of 27 October, Mr. Serpa Soares attended the traditional reception hosted for the Legal Advisers by the New York City Bar Association. In his remarks at the opening of the reception, Mr. Serpa Soares expressed his sincere gratitude to the New York City Bar Association for its strong support to the Legal Advisers meetings for a quarter of a century.
On 28 October, Mr. Serpa Soares participated in a side-event in the margins of the Legal Advisers' meeting, hosted by the Mission of Switzerland and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), on the topic of "Establishing a compliance system for International Humanitarian Law: how will it improve respect for the law of war".
The United Nations Legal Counsel, Mr. Serpa Soares, shares a panel with Ambassador Christian Wenaweser of Liechtenstein, Ambassador Paul Seger of Switzerland, ASG Ivan Šimonović of OHCHR, Ms. Sima Samar of Afghanistan and Knut Dörrmann of the ICRC
On 29 October, Mr. Serpa Soares opened a panel discussion organized by the Mission of Mexico in cooperation with the American Society of International Law (ASIL) on the issue of “The contribution of Latin America to international law”.
The United Nations Legal Counsel, Mr. Serpa Soares, opens a panel discussion on the contribution of Latin America to international law
In the margins of “international law week”, Mr. Serpa Soares held meetings with a great number of Legal Advisers from capitals as well as Legal Advisers of regional organizations. He also met with the President of the International Court of Justice, Judge Peter Tomka, and with the President of the International Criminal Court, Judge Sang-Hyun Song.
The United Nations Legal Counsel, Mr. Serpa Soares, meets with Mr. Xu Hong, Director General of the Department of Treaty and Law of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China