Miguel de Serpa Soares

Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and UN Legal Counsel, United Nations

On 7 August 2013, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced the appointment of Miguel de Serpa Soares of Portugal as Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and United Nations Legal Counsel. He replaced Patricia O’Brien of Ireland to whom the Secretary-General is deeply grateful for her tireless commitment and dedicated service to the Organization.

Mr. de Serpa Soares brings with him wide-ranging experience in the legal sector, including a deep understanding of international political sensitivities and innovative negotiation approaches, having represented his country in various bilateral and multilateral international forums, including the Sixth Committee of the United Nations General Assembly, the Committee of Public Law Legal Advisers of the Council of Europe and the International Criminal Court’s Assembly of State Parties. Mr. de Serpa Soares also possesses experience as a member of Permanent Bilateral and Assessment Committees of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Portugal and second party countries.

Prior to joining the Office of the Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, Mr. de Serpa Soares was the Director General of the Department of Legal Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Portugal (since 2008), he also served as Member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, The Hague (since 2010) and Judge of the Portuguese University Moot Court of International Law (since 2011). Earlier in his career, he acted as Legal Adviser to the Permanent Representation of Portugal to the European Union, Brussels (1999-2008), Chief of Staff of the Deputy Minister for Infrastructure, Planning and Territorial Administration (1996-1999), Chair of the Supervisory Board of Lisbon Port Authority (1997-1998) and Associate Lawyer in a Portuguese law firm (1992-1996).

Born in Angola in 1967, Mr. de Serpa Soares holds a degree (Licenciatura) in law from the Faculty of Law of the University of Lisbon (1990), where he also served as Assistant Lecturer from 1989 to 1993, and a Diplôme de Hautes Etudes Juridiques Européennes, Collège d’Europe, Bruges (1992). He is a member of the Portuguese Bar (since 1993), Co-Organizer of Summer Courses of Public International & Human Rights Law at the Jus Gentium Institute of the Faculty of Law, Coimbra University (2012) and Editor of the Portuguese Yearbook of International Law.