At the invitation of the Government of the Republic of Korea, and in particular the Supreme Court, the United Nations Legal Counsel, Mr. Serpa Soares, visited Seoul from 29 June to 2 July 2015. During his stay in Seoul, the Legal Counsel had the opportunity to visit the Supreme Court and its IT Center, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Korean National Diplomatic Academy.
At the Supreme Court of the Republic of Korea, the Legal Counsel was received by Justice KWON Soon-il of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Korea. Justice KWON explained the structure of the judiciary in the Republic of Korea and briefed Mr. Serpa Soares on the Court’s latest jurisprudence, including on matters of international law. The Legal Counsel explained to Justice KWON the role and mandate of the Office of Legal Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat, as well as the importance of international law for the work of the United Nations in general, and for the decisions of the Secretary-General in particular. Justice KWON and Mr. Serpa Soares also discussed the contribution of the Republic of Korea to international law and in particular international justice. The Legal Counsel noted that the Republic of Korea provides judges for the International Criminal Court (Judge CHUNG), for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (Judge O-Gon KWON), for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (Judge BAIK) and for the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (Judge PAIK). Moreover, the Republic of Korea is providing members for the International Law Commission (Mr. PARK) and for the Commission for the Limits of the Continental Shelf (Mr. PARK). For the size of the Republic of Korea this is very impressive and reflects on the one hand a true dedication to international law, international justice and the rule of law, and on the other hand it is a great compliment to the excellence of the Korean higher educational system, in particular in the field of law.
The Legal Counsel, Mr. Serpa Soares, and Justice KWON of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Korea.
As part of his official visit to the Supreme Court, the Legal Counsel was taken on a tour of the building and visited the Supreme Court IT Center in Bundang where he was deeply impressed about the degree to which modern information technology is advanced in the judiciary of the Republic of Korea. In many ways the Supreme Court IT Center shows a court of the future.
At the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Legal Counsel was received by the Second Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, H.E. Mr. CHO Tae-yul. The Vice-Minister CHO briefed Mr. Serpa Soares about the latest foreign policy initiatives of the Republic of Korea, in particular in the field of international law. He stressed how important international law was for Korea’s foreign policy and that the Republic of Korea will always stand up and fight for the respect of international law. Against the background of its history and in view of its geostrategic location the Republic of Korea developed a deep appreciation for international law which is reflected in how it conducts its foreign policy. The Legal Counsel mentioned to the Vice-Minister the crucial role that Ambassador HAHN, the Deputy Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations in New York, played during his tenure as Chairman of UNCITRAL which he very recently completed. In this connection, Mr. Serpa Soares also took the opportunity to thank the Vice-Minister for the support that the Government of Korea provides to the UNCITAL Regional Office in Incheon which is part of the Office of Legal Affairs.
The Legal Counsel, Mr. Serpa Soares, and Second Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, H.E. Mr. CHO Tae-yul.
During his stay in Seoul, Mr. Serpa Soares also visited the Korea National Diplomatic Academy (KNDA) where he was received by the Chancellor, H.E. Mr. YUN Duk-min, and the Chief of the Center for International Law (which is currently being established), H.E. Mr. SHIN Kak-soo. The conversation with the leaders of the KNDA again revolved around the importance that the Republic of Korea attaches to international law. Mr. Serpa Soares’s visit to the KNDA ended with a special lecture to the 2014-2015 diplomat candidates.
The Legal Counsel, Mr. Serpa Soares, with the 2014-2015 diplomat candidates of the Korean National Diplomatic Academy.
Throughout his visit to the Republic of Korea, Mr. Serpa Soares greatly appreciated the warmth and the kind hospitality by which he was received by all his interlocutors. He is very grateful to the Government of the Republic of Korea, and in particular the Supreme Court, for the invitation and the organization of the visit as an exceptional experience.