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Belgium's contributions to the UN

Belgium’s contributions to the UN 

The success and failure of the UN depends on the will of governments to move forward within this multilateral framework. As a founding member of the UN and a staunch defender of the principles of effective multilateralism, the Kingdom of Belgium strongly supports the UN System not only in terms of true political engagement and belief in the Organisation, but also in terms of sustainable and predictable financial contributions. The policies and objectives of the UN, its specialised programmes, funds and agencies are aligned with those of Belgian foreign policy and development cooperation. At the UN Headquarters, Belgian diplomats defend Belgium’s key priorities by representing the country in UN meetings and conferences. As a member of the European Union, Belgium also coordinates its position on many topics with the other 27 Member States.

1. Peace and Security

Conflict prevention, peacekeeping and peacebuilding are essential elements of Belgian foreign policy.

Over the past years, Belgium has contributed to peacekeeping missions in Somalia, Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, Lebanon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and Mali.

The promotion of peace and security requires multifaceted and multidimensional measures in different fields, such as counterterrorism, the fate of children in armed conflict and non-proliferation and disarmament. Belgium has played a particularly visible role in the negotiations leading to the Ottawa Convention on Anti-Personnel Mines. Belgium continues to pay close attention to the implementation of the Convention, as well as to the more general issues of small arms and light weapons and unexploded war remnants.

Belgium is also an active member of the Peacebuilding Commission and has served as president of the Country Specific Configuration for the Central African Republic. Moreover, Belgium has served 5 times as a non-permanent Member of the UN Security Council: in 1947-48, in 1955-56, in 1971-72, in 1991-92 and in 2007-08. After announcing its candidacy in 2009, Belgium was elected in June 2018 as non-permanent member of the Security Council for the term 2019-2020.

3.2. Human Rights

Belgium’s foreign policy aims at enhancing the positive correlation between peace and security, development and human rights, the three main pillars of the United Nations.

As a founding member of the United Nations, Belgium is committed to human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights.

On 28 October 2015, Belgium was elected to the UN Human Rights Council for the term 2016-2018. In 2016 Belgium was Vice-President/Rapporteur of the Council. Belgium was previously a member from 2009-2012.

A number of issues discussed in the Human Rights Council – such as violence against women in conflict and the protection of children in conflict areas – are also discussed in the UN Security Council.. We support the strengthening of the link between the Human Rights Council and the Security Council and supported in this respect the Appeal of the June 13th 2016 launched by Switzerland, aimed at putting the respect for human rights at the centre of conflict prevention.

Belgium continues to work on priority issues such as the fight against impunity, the abolition of the death penalty, women’s rights, children's rights and freedom of expression. Our country highly values the role civil society organisations play within the UN institutions, in UN Member States and of course in Belgium. Our country also works on strengthening the institutions that defend human rights, such as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and regional organisations, such as the Council of Europe and the African Union. Belgium insists on joint EU-action in this field and favours the development of a truly European human rights diplomacy.

Belgium continues to work towards a strong and effective Human Rights Council and for the universality and indivisibility of human rights. Belgium aims to ensure that the Council, in addressing human rights violations, deals both with country situations and with thematic issues. Belgium believes that a robust system of UN Special Rapporteurs and independent human rights experts is an excellent tool that allows the Council to address human rights situations on the ground. We are committed to cooperating with them and will continue to make every effort to respect the integrity and independence of these special procedures.

Belgium fully engages with the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism and strives to ensure effective follow-up of UPR recommendations as accepted during its review. We also actively participate in discussions on the review of other countries.

Belgium has been a staunch supporter of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) since its creation. The independence and the impartiality of this Office must be safeguarded, as these are essential conditions to enable the Office to promote and protect human rights. Most of our contributions during the past decade were non-earmarked.

Belgium has ratified the major human rights conventions and has established a number of national institutions with a vast mandate in the field of the promotion, the respect and the protection of human rights. 

Belgian human rights priorities at the international level include:

Combating impunity and strengthening accountability and the rule of law - Belgium is a strong supporter of the International Criminal Court.

Ensuring respect for the physical integrity of every person, including progress towards universal abolition of the death penalty.

Enhancing equality and countering discrimination, with particular attention to the rights of women, children, and vulnerable persons.

Promoting decent work and social protection for all and respect for international labour standards.

Working towards inclusive economic growth as a lever to eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development.

Addressing the scourge of racism: all victims of racism, discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance must benefit from the same attention and protection.

Promoting freedom of expression, including freedom of the press, as a key component in any democratic society.

2. Development

In recent years, the total Belgian development assistance represented approximately 0.46% of the GNI. Belgium strives to direct at least 50% of its official development aid to the least developed countries (LDCs). The Belgian development policy focuses on 14 partner countries and  revolves around two central axes: a rights-based approach and sustainable and inclusive growth. This includes a focus on fragile states and post-conflict zones, with priority for the Great Lakes region,  Western and Northern Africa. This geographic focus prevents fragmentation, and enables a coherent approach to cross-border issues such as peace, security, regional stability, climate and migration. Ultimately, our purpose is to increase the impact of our development cooperation for people and communities.

Over the past years, Belgian humanitarian aid has contributed to supporting the most vulnerable population groups in many crises including Syria, Iraq, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the occupied Palestinian territories, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. Belgian development cooperation paid particular humanitarian attention to the plight of Syrian refugees and to the victims of the Ebola virus in West Africa.

The actions of the Belgian cooperation follow a rights-based approach to development. This approach to development is based on the universality, indivisibility and inalienability of human rights. In addition to this the principles of participation and inclusivity in decision-making, non-discrimination and equality, transparency and accountability define our actions.

Belgium’s development cooperation has 20 multilateral partner organisations, which have been selected because their core tasks fit in closely with the priorities of Belgian development policy: agricultural and food security (FAO, CGIAR), health (WHO, GFATM, UNAIDS), human rights (OHCHR), gender and women's rights (UN Women), children's rights (UNICEF), good governance and capacity building (UNDP), demography and sexual and reproductive rights (UNFPA), decent work (ILO), migration (IOM), environment (UNEP), together with the World Bank (WB) and Tax Policy and Administration Topical Trust Fund (TPA TTF).  Specific humanitarian organisations (ICRC, UNHCR, OCHA,WFP, UNRWA) are other longstanding humanitarian partner organisations protected under the Royal Decree of 19 April 2014 on humanitarian aid.

3. Financial Contributions to the UN system

Belgium is an important financial contributor to the UN. On basis of the “capacity to pay principle”, Belgium’s share in the overall budget of the UN is currently set at 0.885%, which ranks Belgium as the 21st largest contributor. Mandatory contributions fund the so-called “regular programme-budget” of the organisation (5.4 billion USD for 2018-2019) and UN peacekeeping operations (6.7 billion USD for 2018-2019). Belgium contributes 23,9 million USD to the UN regular budget and 64,6 million USD to the UN peacekeeping budget. The expenses are paid by the Federal Public Service for Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation.

In addition, Member States also make voluntary contributions as donors to the United Nations (including the regular core budget), the specialised organisations, agencies, funds and programmes. Belgium is also an important donor in this respect. In recent years, the Belgian contributions amounted to approximately 100 million EUR annually, with UNDP and UNICEF as largest beneficiaries. The main part is paid by Federal ministries (essentially the Federal Public Service for Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation) but a small fraction (5%) is also covered by the Regions. These grants are mostly “non-earmarked” and take the form of “core funding” to the supported organisations.