Didier Reynders regrets the withdrawal of the United States from the Human Rights Council

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders regrets the decision of the United States to withdraw from the Human Rights Council. The announcement of the United States risks weakening the Council’s indispensable action and undermines our multilateral system as a whole.

The United States have always been at the forefront in promoting and protecting human rights in the world, in close collaboration with their European partners - including Belgium. Its withdrawal could weaken its international stature and undermine the principles of democracy and the respect for human rights around the world.

Our country takes note of the United States’ wish to protest against the functioning of the Council by leaving it, but we do not believe that its withdrawal will help improve it.

Belgium was elected twice to the Human Rights Council and is one of its current members. Our country’s active participation is a testimony of our commitment for the respect of human rights as an unwavering imperative. As High Commissioner Zeid rightly declared in his declaration of 18th of June, human rights are universal and the guarantee of a more just and secure world. These values must steer the action of every country. In the face of growing threats against human rights, we must give every chance to the existing multilateral instruments put in place to protect them.

Belgium views the Human Rights Council as an essential forum for dialogue and action, in which we hope to contribute by sharing experiences and cooperating between peers. Its functioning can be improved and, in concertation with our European partners, we support the efforts made by its President in this regard. The criticism leveled against the Human Rights Council must not overshadow the important work that is done, often discreetly, to offer an impartial analysis on often serious situations. Belgium is proud to be a strong partner of the High Commissioner and one of its main funders.

The promotion and protection of human rights are at the heart of Belgium’s international action and must remain a central part of the multilateral system embodied by the United Nations and its various instruments. As we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights this year, we remain convinced of the importance of conducting a strong policy to promote and protect human rights all around the world. The Human Rights Council must remain the main body to tackle the state of human rights and fundamental freedoms, in a constant dialogue between all of its members. In this respect, we will continue to support the action of the Council and of the High Commissioner and to work with all willing countries on these issues.

Human rights are a central part of the identity of Belgium and of the European Union. They must continue to be the cornerstone of our modern international order. Belgium is committed to working unwaveringly to that end.