The promotion and protection of human rights are essential elements of Belgian foreign policy. They are also one of the cornerstones of the European Union security and foreign policy (PESC). Our country's human rights action is implemented both at a bilateral level and in the framework of international organizations such as the United Nations, the Council of Europe and the OSCE.
At the UN level, Belgium takes part in the work carried out by the relevant bodies of the United Nations (http://www.un.org/), chiefly the Human Rights Council based in Geneva as well as the Third Committee of the General Assembly, taking place every year in New-York (http://www.un.org/en/ga/third/index.shtml). In those forums, Belgium devotes special but not exclusive attention to the abolition of the death penalty,the freedom of religion and belief, the fight against racism and other forms of discrimination or intolerance, the protection of human rights in the fight against terrorism. The issues related to gender identity andsexual orientation, trafficking in human beings, the rights of the child and gender are also important. Belgium also follows with great attention and nurtures the debates of the Security Council on issues such as the impact of armed conflicts on children, the role of women in post-conflicts situations or the sexual violence used as weapon of war.
Belgium participates actively in the activities of the Human Rights Council as a member (mandate 2009-12) and collectively through the European Union membership. For a year (June 2009 - June 2010), the Permanent Representative of Belgium had the honor to chair the Council (http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/). For more than 20 years, Belgium has also been a traditional member of the Commission on the Status of Women (mandate 2011-2014), a subsidiary body of the Economic and Social Council based in New York which is exclusively dedicated to gender equality and advancement of women (http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/csw/index.html). The CSW was chaired by Ambassadeur Olivier Belle in 2008 and 2009. Since 2011, Belgium is also member of the Committee on Non Governmental Organizations, a subsidiary organ of the Ecosoc, which role is to grant consultative status to NGOs, allowing them to take part in UN conferences and meetings (http://csonet.org/). Behind its bureaucratic façade, the NGO Committee is in fact the stage of important debates among Member States regarding the role and the independence of civil society and sensitive human rights topics. Belgium also participates as observer in the Commission for Social Development (subsidiary body of the Ecosoc) which deals with substantial issues linked to the enjoyment of economic social and cultural rights, like poverty reduction or decent work (http://social.un.org/index/CommissionforSocialDevelopment.aspx).
In order to contribute to the promotion and protection of the human rights situation worldwide, Belgium contributes financially to projects of various human rights and humanitarian organizations, such as the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the International Committee of the Red Cross and NGOs.