Activities of the Legal Counsel of the
Legal Counsel participates in 2014 UN SIDS Conference in Apia, Samoa.
In his capacity as focal point for UN-Oceans, the Legal Counsel, Mr. Serpa Soares, participated in the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States, which was held under the auspices of the United Nations in Apia, Samoa, from 1 to 4 September 2014. Following his designation by the General Assembly in its resolution 68/70 of 9 December 2013 as focal point for UN-Oceans – an inter-agency mechanism that seeks to strengthen and promote coordination and coherence of United Nations system activities related to ocean and coastal areas – Mr. Serpa Soares decided to make ocean affairs and the law of the sea a priority for his second year as United Nations Legal Counsel.
Opening plenary of the 2014 UN SIDS Conference
On 1 September, Mr. Serpa Soares participated in an event entitled “Our sea of islands, our livelihoods our Oceania: the Pacific Ocean Alliance” alongside of H.E. Mr. Tommy E. Remengesau Jr., President of Palau, H.E. Mr. Enele Sopoaga, Prime Minister of Tuvalu, and Mr. Tuiloma Neroni Slade, Secretary-General of the Pacific Island Forum. The event was organized by the Pacific Island Forum and focused on how to ensure a secure future for Pacific Island Countries and territories based on sustainable development, management and conservation of the ocean. In his contribution to the interactive dialogue, Mr. Serpa Soares highlighted the continued cooperation between the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat and the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs.
Mr. Serpa Soares with – from left to right – the President of Palau, the SG of the Pacific Island Forum and the Prime Minister of Tuvalu.
Later on 1 September, Mr. Serpa Soares participated in a High-level side event of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) on the issue of "The UN system partnering for the people of SIDS". In the discussion of cluster 3: "Oceans and Seas" the Secretary-General requested Mr. Serpa Soares to make a brief presentation in his capacity as focal point for UN-Oceans. Mr. Serpa Soares noted that healthy, productive and resilient oceans are critical for poverty alleviation, food security, livelihoods and the well-being of peoples. He recalled that the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and complementary legal instruments are a fundamental and powerful tool for the sustainable development of Small Island Developing States. He stressed that it is a priority to strengthen the UN system-wide coherence on ocean issues and to better respond to the needs and expectations of States. Mr. Serpa Soares concluded by inviting all Members of UN-Oceans to work closely together – as a team – to implement this important mandate.
H.E. Mr. Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister of Samoa, addresses the high-level event of the CEB.
On 3 September, Mr. Serpa Soares addressed session 5, entitled "Oceans, Seas and Biodiversity", of the multi-stakeholder partnership dialogues of the Conference. In his keynote speech, delivered on behalf of UN-Oceans, Mr. Serpa Soares outlined the mandates and activities of the Members of UN-Oceans in assisting small island developing States in advancing sustainable ocean-related development projects based on an integrated and ecosystem approach. He noted that Members of UN-Oceans are already engaged through various partnerships in assisting small island developing States. Key to enhancing ocean-related economic activities and development in general is capacity-building. Mr. Serpa Soares concluded by highlighting that effective partnerships for sustainable capacity-building of small island developing States require clear and achievable objectives, responding to the needs and priorities identified by the small island developing States, the necessary financial resources, and, in particular, the buy-in commitment from relevant stakeholders.
Mr. Serpa Soares delivers a keynote address to session 5 of the multi-stakeholder partnership dialogue.
In the margins of the Conference, Mr. Serpa Soares had a number of informal discussions with representatives of Member States as well as with representatives of Members of UN-Oceans. He attended a range of side events.