Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sophie Wilmès will represent Belgium today at the Universal Periodic Review of the Human Rights Council. She will speak on behalf of the Federal State and the federated entities. Belgium’s human rights policy will be reviewed for the third time since 2011.

The UPR provides for a regular evaluation of the human rights situations of all 193 UN member states. Every year, three UPR sessions take place, each time covering 14 countries. Thus, all 193 UN member states are evaluated every five years. Belgium was reviewed already in 2011 and 2016.

The UPR provides a horizontal dialogue between all UN member states, based on the recognition that no state has a perfect human rights record and there is always room for improvement. At the same time, the UPR provides a rare opportunity to raise awareness among states about legislation or practices at the national level that may negatively impact human rights within their borders.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sophie Wilmès attaches great importance to this third Periodic Review of Belgium:

Human rights are part of Belgium’s identity,” she said. “The universality, indivisibility and interdependence of human rights, which reinforce each other, are the basic principles of our action, both in our internal policies and on the international scene. It is an important exercise that allows us to see not only what progress our country has made in recent years, but also what remains to be done. Belgium is a good student in this regard, but we also have a series of issues that need to be addressed, both at the federal level and at the level of the federated entities, in view of the 4th UPR in 2026.”

Belgium will today receive the comments and recommendations of 123 UN member states, based on three documents:

– The first is the Belgian National Report. This report is the result of a close collaboration between all relevant policy levels of the federal government and federated entities. In January 2021, the Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs also organized a civil society consultation on the draft text of the report. It deals with follow-up of the 187 recommendations that Belgium accepted during its previous UPR in 2016.

– The two other reports summarize, on the one hand, the information from the UN itself and, on the other hand, a summary of the many contributions from (national and international) stakeholders, which also provide formal input to the UPR process and inform about the human rights situation in Belgium from their respective perspectives.

By Friday, our country must provide a preliminary response to the recommendations. It then has until September to finalize its final response.