Ban appoints Portuguese jurist as new UN legal chief

Patricia O'Brien, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs. UN Photo/JC McIlwaine

7 August 2013 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed Miguel de Serpa Soares of Portugal as Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and United Nations Legal Counsel.

Since 2008, Mr. Serpa Soares has served as the Director General of the Department of Legal Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Portugal. He has “a wide-ranging experience in the legal sector, including a deep understanding of international political sensitivities and innovative negotiation approaches,” stated the announcement of his appointment.

Mr. Serpa Soares, who replaces Patricia O’Brien of Ireland, also served as a member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague and Judge of the Portuguese University Moot Court of International Law. Earlier in his career, he also acted as Legal Advisor to the Permanent Representation of Portugal to the European Union.

He has also represented his country in various international forums, including the Sixth Committee of the UN General Assembly, the Committee of Public Law Legal Advisers of the Council of Europe and the International Criminal Court’s Assembly of States Parties.

Born in Angola in 1967, Mr. Serpa Soares holds a Degree in Law from the University of Lisbon.

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