From 5 to 18 July 2018, the United Nations Legal Counsel, Mr. Serpa Soares, visited Geneva, Switzerland; Vienna, Austria; and The Hague in the Netherlands. In Geneva, he participated in a solemn meeting marking the 70th anniversary of the International Law Commission. In Vienna, the Legal Counsel chaired the annual meetings of two networks of Legal Advisers. In The Hague, Mr. Serpa Soares represented the Secretary-General at the ceremony to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
Visit to Geneva, Switzerland, 5 and 6 July 2018
At the invitation of the Chair of the International Law Commission (ILC), Mr. Eduardo Valencia-Ospina, the Legal Counsel visited Geneva, Switzerland, from 5 to July 2018, to participate in the solemn meeting of the Commission entitled “Drawing a Balance for the Future” convened to mark its 70th anniversary. In his address, Mr. Serpa Soares paid tribute to the achievements of the ILC over the course of the 70 years of its work, as well as to the generous hospitality of Switzerland for having hosted the Commission for seven decades at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. He encouraged the participants – present and former ILC members, representatives of Member States and academics – to actively participate in the series of panels organized for the occasion.
The United Nations Legal Counsel, Mr. Serpa Soares, addresses a solemn meeting convened to mark the 70th anniversary of the ILC at the Salle du Conseil of the Palais des Nations in Geneva
A lunchtime reception hosted by the Government of Germany and an evening reception hosted by the Government of Switzerland provided an opportunity to informally discuss a number of issues with ILC members and State representatives.
While at Geneva, Mr. Serpa Soares met with the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Mr. Peter Maurer. The meeting which was held at ICRC Headquarters provided a welcome opportunity for the UN Legal Counsel and the ICRC President to exchange on a number of topical issues, including the importance of a continued dialogue between the UN and the ICRC regarding international humanitarian law in the context of peacekeeping and emerging issues such as global migration and cybersecurity.
Visit to Vienna, Austria, 9 to 13 July 2018
In Vienna, Mr. Serpa Soares chaired the 2018 meeting of the Legal Advisers of the Specialized, Related and other Organizations of the United Nations System on 9 and 10 July 2018, and the 2018 meeting of the Legal Advisers and Legal Liaison Officers of the United Nations Offices, Funds and Programmes. As customary when the two networks meet back-to-back in the same venue, a joint session of the members of both networks was held on 10 July 2018. The annual meetings of the networks of Legal Advisers provided an opportunity for discussion of legal issues of common interest and concern to the Legal Advisers of the participating entities. The meetings 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 United Nations.
The meetings were hosted by the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) and the United Nations Office in Vienna (UNOV), respectively, and was held at the Vienna International Centre. The Executive Secretary of CTBTO, Mr. Lassina Zerbo, and the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Director-General of UNOV, Mr. Yury Fedotov, addressed the meetings.
The Family Photo of the joint session of the 2018 meetings of the UN Legal Advisers
In addition to “classic” agenda items, such as privileges and immunities and highlights of the recent jurisprudence of the United Nations Administrative Tribunal (UNAT), the meetings discussed topical issues such as the impact of the European Union General Data Protection Regulation on United Nations entities, the issue of harmonizing key elements of sexual harassment policies and the issue of sexual exploitation and abuse. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Austria hosted a reception for the members of both networks at the historic Marmorsaal of the Ministry at which Ambassador Johannes Peterlik, the Secretary-General of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, addressed the participants.
The Legal Counsel, Mr. Serpa Soares, expresses his gratitude to the Secretary-General of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Johannes Peterlik, and the Legal Adviser of the Ministry, Ambassador Helmut Tichy, at a reception hosted by the Austrian Ministry for Foreign Affairs
On the last day of his stay in Vienna, Mr. Serpa Soares visited the International Trade Law Division (ITLD) of the Office of Legal Affairs where he was received by its new Director, Ms. Anna Joubin-Bret. In a meeting with the staff of ITLD, Ms. Joubin-Bret and her colleagues briefed the Legal Counsel on recent activities of the Division and the latest trends in international trade and commercial law. Mr. Serpa Soares briefed his Vienna-based staff on his mission and on important developments in New York.
Mr. Serpa Soares meets with the new Director of ITLD, Ms. Joubin-Bret, and his Vienna-based staff
Visit to The Hague, the Netherlands, 16 and 17 July 2018
The last stop on his mission to Europe was The Hague where the Legal Counsel represented the Secretary-General of the United Nations at a solemn hearing of the International Criminal Court to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statute. Mr. Serpa Soares addressed a high-level symposium which was convened under the theme “Enduring Value of the Rome Statute to Humanity”.
Mr. Serpa Soares addresses a high-level symposium convened on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court
The events to mark the anniversary brought together a number of representatives of Member States, academics, practitioners of international criminal justice and members of civil society and provided ample opportunity for the Legal Counsel to have a number of informal meetings in the margins of the celebration.
Mr. Serpa Soares, the UN Legal Counsel, with Ms. Bensouda, the ICC Prosecutor