Belgium underlines the continued importance, even after 75 years, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

  1. Last updated on

Sunday 10 December is International Human Rights Day. Exactly 75 years ago, on 10 December 1948, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Belgium was one of the 48 UN member states (out of a total of 58 member states at the time) that voted in favour of the Universal Declaration.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is one of the most translated documents in history. It has only 30 articles but covers a broad spectrum of rights and freedoms, ranging from the right to life and personal liberty, equality before the law, freedom of expression and assembly and right to privacy, to the right to education, the right to social security and fair remuneration - and many more.

Significant progress has been made on human rights over the past 75 years. But for many, the rights and freedoms in the Universal Declaration remain out of reach. This is precisely why Belgium remains committed to the protection and promotion of all human rights for all, without distinction. Human dignity and equal rights for all people are the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. They are the core foreign policy values of Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and European Affairs Hadja Lahbib and Minister of Development Cooperation Caroline Gennez.

Belgium translates this principled framework into concrete action through a relentless commitment to human rights at the bilateral level, and in multilateral forums, such as the UN, the Council of Europe and the European Union. For instance, our country has been a member of the UN Human Rights Council since 1 January 2023, and will be so until the end of 2025. Very concretely, as a member of the UN Human Rights Council, Belgium is committed to the importance of accountability for the most serious crimes; the strengthening of civil society and the protection of human rights defenders; equality and the fight against discrimination, with special attention to women and girls; and the promotion of all human rights, both civil and political rights and economic, social and cultural rights in their indivisibility and interdependence.

Our country attaches great importance to coherence between our domestic and foreign policies. That is why Belgium responded positively to the call by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights for national commitments to mark the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration. Specifically, our country promised to take the necessary institutional steps for Belgium to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture Convention; adopt a second national action plan on business and human rights; and join the Coalition on Media Freedom.

The important human rights and democracy achievements of the past decades are under pressure worldwide from authoritarian regimes, war, violence, poverty, climate change and other factors. Belgium therefore considers it crucial to stress the continued relevance of the 75-year-old Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Alongside this, we must also look forward and show a positive commitment to the future.

  1. News Type