Activities of the Legal Counsel of the
Legal Counsel Visits Geneva (Switzerland) and Vienna (Austria)
(4 to 8 May 2015).
From 4 to 8 May 2015, the United Nations Legal Counsel, Mr. Miguel de Serpa Soares, visited Geneva where he met with the International Law Commission, and Vienna where he chaired the 2015 meeting of the Legal Advisers of the United Nations System.
Visit to Geneva, 4 and 5 May 2015
The main purpose of Mr. Serpa Soares’s visit to Geneva was to address the 67th session of the International Law Commission (ILC). The ILC assists the General Assembly in the promotion and progressive development of international law and its codification. His annual address on 5 May 2015
featured a wide range of topical issues, including: the work of the Sixth Committee during the 69th session of the General Assembly as well as selected highlights of the work of the six substantive units of the Office of Legal Affairs. The objective of the annual meeting of the Legal Counsel with the ILC is to give its Members a sense of the legal issues with which the United Nations is currently confronted and to enable the Commission to perform its mandate in a more practice oriented manner.
The United Nations Legal Counsel, Mr. Serpa Soares, addresses the 67th session of the International Law Commission
During his stay, Mr. Serpa Soares had many useful informal exchanges with Members of the ILC. The Legal Counsel is grateful to the Deputy Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations in Geneva, Ambassador Dr. Thomas Fitschen, for hosting a reception in honour of the Members of the ILC on the eve of my meeting with the Commission. This greatly facilitated informal exchanges ahead of the formal meeting.
While in Geneva and following an invitation by Professor Laurence Boisson de Chazournes and Professor Andrea Bianchi, Mr. Serpa Soares delivered a speech at the Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies which was jointly organized by the Institute and the Faculty of Law of Geneva University. In his address he briefed the students on the role and mandate of the Office of Legal Affairs and on the Secretary-General’s unrelenting efforts to establish and advance and age of accountability. The address was followed by a questions and answers session with the students and faculty.
The United Nations Legal Counsel speaks at the Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland
Visit to Vienna, 6 to 8 May 2015
In Vienna, Mr. Serpa Soares chaired the 2015 meeting of the Legal Advisers of the Specialized, Related and other Organizations of the United Nations System on 7 and 8 May 2015. The annual meeting of the network of Legal Advisers of the United Nations System provides an opportunity for discussion of legal issues of common interest and concern to the Legal Advisers of the participating entities. They are held to improve coordination and communication among the Legal Advisers and to promote system-wide legal coherence. The meetings also provide the Legal Counsel with an important opportunity to brief the Members of the Network on current legal issues facing the Organization. The 2015 meeting was hosted by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and was held at its Headquarters. The Director General of UNIDO, Mr. LI Yong, took the time to welcome the Legal Advisers and to address the meeting. Director General LI also received the Legal Counsel for a bilateral meeting during which he briefed on the priorities for UNIDO.
UNIDO Director-General LI Yong joins the United Nations Legal Counsel, Mr. Serpa Soares, and the Members of the network of Legal Advisers of the UN System for a group photo at the Vienna International Centre
In the margins of his stay in Vienna, Mr. Serpa Soares visited the International Trade Law Division (ITLD). ITLD is an integral part of the Office of Legal Affairs with the principal mandate to service the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL). Moreover, Mr. Serpa Soares took the opportunity of his stay in Vienna to meet with the Director General of the United Nations Office in Vienna (UNOV) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Mr. Yuri Fedotov, to discuss matters of mutual concern. While in Vienna, Mr. Serpa Soares informally met with his counterparts in the Austrian Ministry for Foreign Affairs, and in particular with Ambassador Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal, Senior Adviser to the Austrian Minister for Foreign Affairs, and with Ambassador Dr. Helmut Tichy, Legal Adviser in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The annual meeting between the Legal Counsel and the International Law Commission and the chairing of the annual meeting of the Legal Advisers of the UN System are well established traditions. Nevertheless, they are always highly interesting because they allow the Legal Counsel to pass along some key messages and get a good sense from two extremely important groups of individuals on current and possibly future legal issues.