Secondment to international organisations

Exposure to the work in international organisations is important to the sustainable growth of a professional, capable and well-informed legal community and the development of Hong Kong’s position as a leading international legal and dispute resolution services centre. To this end, the Department of Justice (DoJ) has been maintaining close liaison with international organisations to arrange secondment for lawyers in both public and private sectors. These opportunities provide valuable on-the-job training for fostering our legal talents in diverse areas of international law.

Further to a visit I made to The Hague, the Netherlands in April 2019, and by reference to a precedent where the current Commissioner of IDAR Office was seconded in 2001, a standing agreement was reached for local lawyers to be seconded to the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH). On December 22 last year, I signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Secretary General of the HCCH, Dr Christophe Bernasconi, for the technical and administrative arrangements relating to the secondment of legal professionals at a virtual ceremony. I thank eBRAM for providing the technological support to make the digital signing possible notwithstanding the pandemic.

This is the first standing arrangement for legal professionals in both the public and private sectors from Hong Kong to be seconded to the Permanent Bureau of the HCCH for a short-term placement. Secondment usually confines to government officials but we reached an agreement with the HCCH that private legal practitioners are also allowed to join the programme. The duration of the secondment is normally six to 12 months. With the support from the Hong Kong Government, successful applicants from the private sector will receive a monthly allowance of HK$50,000 from the HCCH. My deepest gratitude goes to the Central People’s Government and the HCCH for their tremendous support.

The secondment programme with the HCCH is now open for application until February 18. I encourage local lawyers (Hong Kong permanent residents with Chinese nationality), who are either in private practice or working in the Government or public bodies, to seize this opportunity to broaden his/ her perspective and gain unique experience working at the HCCH.

There is a growing number of cases in civil, commercial, criminal and family-related matters which require cross-jurisdictional legal services. Knowledge in private international law becomes an inevitable tool in the practice of law.

This secondment programme with the HCCH presents a promising pathway to work in an international organisation where participants could gain top-notch experience in issues in private international law and broaden their horizons through collaborating with international law experts. It also provides a valuable opportunity for participants to hone their leadership skills through engaging in different projects and experiencing the global development of international law. Such exposure will undoubtedly benefit their future career advancement. These secondees could become ambassadors of Hong Kong and these international organisations could connect with Hong Kong’s legal talents, which will help raise Hong Kong’s profile and facilitate further co-operation.

Needless to say, the HCCH, a global inter-governmental organisation, enjoys a very prestigious status in the field of private international law. With currently 87 Members (86 States and the European Union), the HCCH develops and services multilateral legal instruments in a wide range of areas from commercial law and banking law to international civil procedure, responding to the global needs.

Over the years, the HCCH and the DoJ have been collaborating closely on various projects. We are delighted that the HCCH's Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific has moved into the former French Mission Building, which forms an important part of the Hong Kong Legal Hub. This secondment programme marks another milestone for the long-standing partnership between the two organisations.

Working in The Hague will be a unique experience. The International Court of Justice, the Permanent Court of Arbitration and The Hague Academy of International Law are all housed in the Peace Palace, a historic and elegant architecture. The Peace Palace Library of International Law, having the best collection of literature on international law, is a place not to be missed by those who love research in this area.

For legal practitioners who are interested in the programme, please visit our dedicated webpage at for further details and application. We are exploring with other international organisations for secondment opportunities for our legal professionals.

January 28, 2021