Conversation with the United Nations Legal Counsel at ILC

My statement on the occasion of the Visit of Mr. Miguel de Serpa Soares, Legal Counsel of the United Nations, Under-Secretary-General, to the International Law Commission: 17 May 2016, 11:30 am, Shinya Murase

[I wanted that the people of the world know that a small university called CYU had existed.]

Mr. Soares, it is always gratifying to listen to your statement regarding very important activities of your office. I just wanted to take this opportunity to refer to, perhaps less conspicuous and less prominent, aspect of the activities of your office, which is nonetheless extremely important, that is, the role of the Codification Division in the area of teaching, study, dissemination and wider appreciation of international law. The audio-visual library is indeed an excellent project, and I hope that it will be continued for a long time.

I had the pleasure of having recorded three lectures myself, but I did not really appreciate the value of the audio-visual library until I started teaching in China two years ago at the Law School of China Youth University of Political Studies (CYU) in Beijing. The students there are very bright and hardworking, and they are so eager to learn international law. Although this is one of the elite universities in Beijing, I noticed that there was a rather limited access to foreign literature and material on international law. So, I donated all my books in English, some 2,000 volumes, to the CYU Library, but that was not sufficient.

Then, I thought of the audio-visual library, but the problem is that, somehow, it takes so much time to download them in China. I asked the Codification Division whether the DVDs are available. I was so moved by the kindness of the Division, which agreed to make DVDs for us. My students listed up the DVDs that they wanted to watch, and after a few weeks, a big package containing them arrived at our university. Those DVDs have now been placed on the 8th floor of the CYU library so that any students can borrow and watch them.

Moot Court competitions are very popular in China. Our university team was the 19th in China’s Jessup Moot Court two years ago, but, this year, our team was the 9th out of 45 teams participating in China Jessup: it is all thanks to those DVDs! If our team improves at this pace, I am sure that it will be the national champion in China in a few years! Our students and the coach were sent to Washington DC to participate in the international exhibition rounds in April this year. They wanted to hand over the letter of gratitude signed by the CYU’s Vice President Lin Wei, and so they visited Codification Division in New York on their return from Washington. They were warmly received by Mr. Llwellyin, Director of the Codification Division, together with the officers in charge of the audio-visual library, Mr. David Nanopoulos, Ms. Galina Rudenko and Mr. Paul Gennaro, to whom we are deeply grateful.

So, Mr. Soares, I would appreciate very much for your continuing support to the audio-visual library, which is extremely important to so many students studying international law in so many countries. Thank you.

The Legal Counsel, Mr. Miguel de Serpa Soares, responded:

Mr. Murase, thank you for your kind words towards the audiovisuals library. I have to tell you that I have been in very close contact with our Chinese colleagues over the past three years. I was very surprised to learn that there are 400 universities in China with courses of international law. So this is a very important dimension. That is what I was told by Judge Xue Hanqin in the International Court of Justice. I have been to China twice in my official capacity. My Assistant Secretary General, Mr. Stephen Mathias, also has been to China in his professional capacity. I have published two very small things in the Chinese Yearbook of International Law. I will try to maintain this relationship. We have had several Chinese interns in the Office of Legal Affairs. I am looking forward to developing this relationship and feeding Chinese interest in international law. I have recently participated in a discussion organized by the Chatham House on the topic China and international law. So as Legal Counsel, I will do my best to develop this relationship.

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