10 December, International Human Rights Day: Belgium’s contribution

date: 10 December 2012

On the occasion of the International Human Rights Day on 10 December, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders emphasises Belgium’s efforts for the promotion and protection of human rights. Points for attention in Belgium continue to be children’s and women’s rights, the fight against indemnity, the death penalty, and all forms of intolerance and discrimination, including those based on sexual orientation. A recent example of the Belgian commitment is the conference on “Children’s rights and business principles” that took place at the Egmont Palace on 3 December.

Minister Reynders is also very pleased that the Third Committee of the General Assembly accepted by consensus two weeks ago the Belgian-Slovenian resolution on the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Minister Reynders is also very satisfied with the other positive developments in the Third Committee such as the increased support for the resolution on the moratorium on the use of the death penalty.

“On the one hand, I realise that too many people are still having to pay a heavy price for the expression of their rights and freedoms, which we take for granted in our society,” says Minister Reynders, who points out that Belgium has played a key role as a member of the Human Rights Council for the past three years.

Just because the Belgian membership in the Human Rights Council ends on 31 December 2012, this does not mean that Belgium will look on from the sidelines from now on. Quite the contrary, because Belgium will also continue to play an active role in the Council as an observer and will also continue to advocate for the universalisation of human rights. As it so happens, Belgium is being considered for a new mandate in the Human Rights Council for the 2016-2018 period. In addition, Belgium will remain an active member of the NGO Committee and the Commission on the Status of Women, which will start digging into the issue of violence against women in March 2013.

Belgium will also continue to advocate for the promotion and protection of children’s and women’s rights, particularly in the context of conflict and post-conflict situations. For example, in February 2012, Minister Reynders took part in an open debate on sexual violence during conflicts in the Security Council meeting. He also expressed his support for the campaign by Doctor Mukwege, a pioneer of women’s rights in the afflicted Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

In closing, Minister Reynders brought up the fact that the European Union adopted a Strategic Framework and Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy on 25 June 2012. Belgium will also put its efforts into implementing at least 97 actions in the action plan.