Didier Reynders confirms that human rights are a priority for Belgium

date: 09 December 2013

Following the international Human Rights Day that took place on 10 December, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders confirmed that human rights are more than ever a priority within his policy. These are values that form an integral part of our democratic society.

Sixty-five years after the approval of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, these rights and freedoms are unfortunately still not enjoyed by all people, at all times and all over the world. On the contrary, we live in an era in which the universal character of human rights has been a bone of contention for more than ten years. Minister Reynders therefore wants our country to continue to make a multilateral and bilateral effort to promote and protect human rights and the rule of law.

This commitment was brought to the fore last year thanks, among other things, to the participation of Minister Reynders in the World Congress against the Death Penalty in Madrid, becoming a member of the Support Group for the International Commission against the Death Sentence, the creation of a second National Action Plan for Women, Peace and Security and the organisation of a side-event with UNICEF for ‘Children’s rights and business principles’ in the fringes of the UN Global Compact Summit Meeting in New York in which H.M. Queen Mathilde took part.

Belgium will continue its line of promoting and protecting human rights in 2014. They will be included in the discussions about the post-2015 agenda. The observation of human rights and the rule of law also contribute to sustainable development. Although our country is not currently a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Didier Reynders is pleading the case for an active role for Belgium in this forum, by among other things  ensuring that issues such as the death sentence and children and armed conflict remain on the agenda. Belgium is, on the other hand, a member of the UN Committee on NGOs. Our country continues to work towards the accreditation of Human Rights NGOs in this Committee. Belgium is also active in the UN Commission on the Status of Women. In 2014, this Commission will discuss the challenges and achievements in implementing the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls.

Finally Minister Reynders would like to point out that one of his priorities is the promotion and protection of Human Rights in Belgium itself. To this end, Belgium is setting up an action plan called ‘Business and Human Rights’. In September, Belgium also submitted a voluntary interim report to the United Nations Human Rights Council about the implementation of the accepted recommendations as part of its Universal Periodic Review (UPR).