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The DGJ has a general advisory function in all areas of the law relating to the remit of the FPS Foreign Affairs, such as public international law, European law, consular law, administrative law, the law on employment contracts and the law of treaties.
The DGJ also defends Belgium before international courts, the jurisdictions of the European Union and the European Economic Area, as well as before Belgian courts in disputes to which the FPS Foreign Affairs is a party.
Finally, the DGJ plays a key part in signing, approving and ratifying the treaties concluded by Belgium.
The tasks and functions of the DGJ are divided across four directorates:
- National Law;
- European Law;
- Public International Law;
The Directorate of National Law advises the services of the FPS Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation on topics relating to Belgian law. It cooperates with lawyers appointed by the Department to defend Belgium in disputes before Belgian and international courts and tribunals. The disputes are primarily related to consular affairs, taxation, civil service law, development cooperation and public procurement.
The Directorate of European Law represents Belgium before the Court of Justice of the European Union and the European Free Trade Association Court in Luxembourg, during both the written and the oral stages of proceedings. Click here for further information on the functioning of the Directorate of European Law.
The Directorate of Public International Law represents Belgium before international bodies that address issues relating to public international law. The Directorate not only advises on issues relating to general public international law, but also on questions regarding privileges and immunities, headquarters agreements, maritime law, international humanitarian law and international criminal courts. The Directorate also handles collective complaints on behalf of the Committee of Social Rights of the Council of Europe. Finally, it monitors the files on serious violations of international humanitarian law, for Belgian and international criminal courts, as well as for other tribunals or hybrid mechanisms that were created in the light of specific situations.
The Directorate of Public International Law also serves as secretariat to the Interministerial Commission for Humanitarian Law (or ICHL). The Commission, which was founded in 1987, resides under the Minister for Foreign Affairs. The Commission has the following tasks:
- to establish and analyse national measures for the execution of international humanitarian law;
- to propose decisions in this matter to the competent authorities;
- to coordinate and monitor the measures taken.
It also serves as an advisory body to the Government in all matters relating to international humanitarian law.
The Directorate of Treaties is competent to tackle all of the formal aspects of concluding treaties and international agreements at a federal level. The Directorate supervises the proper conduct of the procedure concerning the implementation of these treaties into the internal legal order from the moment of signing until ratification. Since the revision of the Constitution in 1993, the Communities and the Regions (the federate entities) have been authorised to conclude treaties on matters within their competence. In regard to the mixed treaties, the Directorate of Treaties helps coordinate between the various bodies concerned and ensures the ratification procedure is properly conducted. Finally, the Directorate also keeps custody of the original copies of the treaties and serves as a depositary of certain multilateral conventions. Click here to see more information on how treaties are concluded, the depositary tasks and the database of treaties since 1987.