Activities of the Legal Counsel of the
Visit by the United Nations Legal Counsel to
Port Louis, Mauritius; Lisbon, Portugal; and Geneva, Switzerland
8 to 18 May 2016 2016
From 8 to 18 May 2016, the United Nations Legal Counsel, Mr. Serpa Soares, visited Port Louis, Mauritius; Lisbon, Portugal; and Geneva, Switzerland. In Mauritius and Portugal, the Legal Counsel accompanied the Secretary-General. In Geneva, Mr. Serpa Soares opened the 2016 meeting of the Legal Advisers of the Specialized, Related and other Organizations of the UN System, and held his annual meeting with the International Law Commission (ILC).
Visit to Port Louis, Mauritius, 8 to 10 May 2016
The Legal Counsel accompanied the Secretary-General of the United Nations on his first official State visit during his tenure to the Republic of Mauritius which took place from 8 to 10 May 2016. In Mauritius, the Secretary-General met with all high-level dignitaries of the country, including in particular Dr. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, President of the Republic of Mauritius; Sir Anerood Jugnauth, Prime Minister of the Republic of Mauritius; and Mr. Seetanah Lutchmeenraidoo, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Mauritius. The most interesting activity from a legal point of view was the keynote address by the Secretary-General to the 2016 Mauritius Congress of the International Council for Commercial Arbitration (ICCA). This event was remarkable because it was the first Congress in ICCA’s 50 year history that was held in Africa. In his keynote address, the Secretary-General highlighted the work of UNCITRAL in creating a favourable environment for the peaceful resolution of commercial disputes and the importance of commercial or investor-state arbitration for strengthening the rule of law, in particular in Africa.
The Secretary-General delivers the keynote address at the 2016 ICCA Congress
Visit to Geneva, Switzerland, 11 May 2016
From 11 to 13 May 2016, the Office of Legal Affairs organized the 2016 Meeting of Legal Advisers of the Specialized, Related and other Organizations of the UN System and the 2016 Meeting of Legal Advisers and Legal Liaison Officers of the UN Offices, Funds and Programmes. The meetings were co-hosted in Geneva by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG). The meetings of these two Legal Networks provide 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 Networks on current legal issues facing the Organization.
As the Legal Counsel had the honour to accompany the Secretary-General on his visit to Lisbon, Portugal, on 12 and 13 May, he could not chair the meetings in their entirety. Mr. Serpa Soares, therefore, was only able to chair the meeting on 11 May. He still took the opportunity to brief the Legal Advisers of the UN System on the latest developments regarding the Organization’s response to the issue of sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) and where the Administration was with regard to implementing the “CAR Panel” report. Addressing the issue of SEA is a matter that Mr. Serpa Soares considers of enormous importance which is why he wanted to personally sensitize and brief his colleagues in the Specialized, Related and other Organizations of the UN System [link to speech]. On 12 and 13 May, the meetings were chaired by Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, Mr. Stephen Mathias.
The UN Legal Counsel, Mr. Serpa Soares, and the Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, Mr. Steve Mathias, with the Legal Advisers of the UN System
Visit to Lisbon, Portugal, 12 and 13 May 2016
On 12 and 13 May 2016, the Legal Counsel accompanied the Secretary-General on a State visit to Lisbon, Portugal. The Secretary-General met with a range of high-level dignitaries, including in particular Mr. Marcelo Rebelo e Sousa, President of the Republic of Portugal; Mr. Antonio Santos Costa, Prime Minister of the Republic of Portugal; and Mr. Augusto Santos Silva, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Portugal. In the framework of the visit to Portugal, the Secretary-General received the “Ordem de Liberdad” from the President of the Republic.
The Secretary-General, Mrs. Ban Soon-teak, the Legal Counsel and the Permanent Representative of Portugal to the UN, Ambassador Mendonça e Moura at the Monastery Santa Maria de Belem
Visit to Geneva, Switzerland, 17 May 2016
On 17 May 2016, Mr. Serpa Soares attended the 68th session of the International Law Commission (ILC) in Geneva. The ILC assists the General Assembly in the promotion and progressive development of international law and its codification. The annual address [link to speech] featured a wide range of issues, including: the Secretary-General’s strong commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals many of which have legal implications - in particular goals 14 and 16 - and the historic and record-breaking signature ceremony on 22 April of the Paris Agreement; the work of the Sixth Committee during the 70th session of the General Assembly; the regional courses in international law which are a major technical assistance activity by the Office of Legal Affairs; the latest trends in international humanitarian law (humanitarian access, compliance and peacekeeping-related issues); addressing the scourge of sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) against the background of the CAR Panel; ensuring respect for the privileges and immunities of the Organization at a time when this concept is questioned and under attack; international criminal justice and accountability; the development of an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction; an update on the work of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS); recent developments of our new system of Administration of Justice and the jurisprudence of the United Nations Dispute Tribunal (UNDT); and the latest trends in international commercial and trade law. The purpose of this 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 Legal Counsel addresses the International Law Commission