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United Nations - Office of Legal Affairs
Activities of the Legal Counsel of the United Nations

Visit by the United Nations Legal Counsel to Hong Kong, SAR, and Beijing, People’s Republic of China

17 to 20 October 2017


From 17 to 20 October 2017, the United Nations Legal Counsel, Mr. Miguel de Serpa Soares, visited Hong Kong, SAR, and Beijing in the People’s Republic of China.

Visit to Hong Kong, SAR, 17 and 18 October 2017

Upon his arrival in Hong Kong, the Legal Counsel was received by the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Ms. Carrie Lam, and her Secretary for Justice, Mr. Rimsky Yuen who hosted a luncheon at Government House.  In the interesting conversation it became apparent that at the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China, its leadership is keen on defending and ideally increasing Hong Kong’s relevance as an important regional hub for legal services, in particular in the areas of international trade and commercial law, as well as dispute resolution and arbitration.  In this aspiration, it competes with other such centres in the region, in particular Singapore and Seoul.  There is an increased interest in the work of UNCITRAL.  Hong Kong is a key donor and partner of the UNCITRAL Regional Centre for Asia and the Pacific, based in Incheon, Republic of Korea.

The Legal Counsel, Mr. Serpa Soares, and the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, Ms. Lam
The Legal Counsel, Mr. Serpa Soares, and the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, Ms. Lam

On 18 October 2017, Mr. Serpa Soares delivered the keynote address at the 2nd UNCITRAL Judicial Summit, speaking on the topic of how UNCITRAL dispute settlement standards enable judicial collaboration. The Judicial Summits are an initiative of the UNCITRAL Regional Centre for Asia and the Pacific and aims at promoting the rule of law and the uniform application and interpretation of UNCITRAL texts by judiciaries across the region. It is part of an ongoing effort to establish partnerships with regional judiciaries and judicial training institutions to facilitate further integration of capacity-building activities, wider inclusion of UNCITRAL texts in training curricula and broader promotion of the uniform interpretation of UNCITRAL texts.

Mr. Serpa Soares addresses the 2nd UNCITRAL Judicial Summit in Hong Kong
Mr. Serpa Soares addresses the 2nd UNCITRAL Judicial Summit in Hong Kong

Visit to Beijing, 19 and 20 October 2017

Mr. Serpa Soares visited Beijing at the invitation of the General Counsel, Mr. Gerard Sanders, of the newly established Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) on the occasion of a meeting of Chief Legal Officers of Asia-based International Financial Institutions.  Mr. Sanders invited Mr. Serpa Soares to deliver the Inaugural AIIB Law Lecture in the framework of this meeting.  In his address, Mr. Serpa Soares highlighted the necessity of cooperation between international organizations.

Mr. Serpa Soares delivers the Inaugural AIIB Law Lecture
Mr. Serpa Soares delivers the Inaugural AIIB Law Lecture

Upon arrival in Beijing, the UN Legal Counsel first met with the AIIB’s General Counsel, Mr. Gerard Sanders. Mr. Sanders briefed him on the recent activities of his Office and challenges that the AIIB is facing.

Mr Serpa Soares and Mr. Sanders
Mr Serpa Soares and Mr. Sanders

Subsequently, Mr. Serpa Soares was received by the President of the AIIB, Mr. Jin Liqun. Mr. Jin explained the mandate, mission and governance structure of the AIIB and the priorities of his presidency. The AIIB is a multilateral development bank with the mandate to address the infrastructure and connectivity gaps throughout Asia. Interestingly, in furtherance of its mandate the AIIB is not confined to Asia and can also invest or implement projects outside of Asia. The AIIB seeks, in particular, to utilize its resources, to projects and programs that will contribute most effectively to the harmonious economic growth of the region as a whole, with special regard to the needs of less developed members of the region.

Mr. Serpa Soares and Mr. Jin

Mr. Serpa Soares and Mr. Jin

During his stay in Beijing, Mr. Serpa Soares had the honour to meet with H.E. Mr. Kong Xuanyou, Assistant Minister in the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in the framework of a luncheon at the Diaoyutai Guest House.

Mr. Serpa Soares and Assistant Minister Kong

Mr. Serpa Soares and Assistant Minister Kong