Sophie Wilmès highlights Belgium’s commitment to the fight against racism

On this International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, March 21, current events remind us to be vigilant in the face of words and actions that remain unacceptable and unfortunately affect all societies. If the fight against racism is part of our values as a central pillar of our democracies, it is also a legal obligation for Belgium, since our country ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in 1975 and has a legal framework for the fight against racism. In 2020, at the initiative of former Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès, Belgium established an inter-ministerial conference on the fight against racism and anti-Semitism to better coordinate the actions of the country's various authorities in this area. They are currently working on an inter-federal action plan. We must indeed continue our efforts in Belgium.

This fight is not only led internally, it is also carried by our country on the international scene. 2021 marks the 20th anniversary of the conference of Durban, South Africa, which hosted the United Nations Conference on Combating Racism. For the first time, a declaration and a plan of action to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance was adopted. Belgium played a bridge-building role at this conference, and since then, our country has remained actively involved in the fight against racism. At the multilateral level, Belgium participates in several initiatives, including dialogues on the theme of racism, and systematically supports the United Nations mandates related to this subject, such as the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, whose mandate is described here: https://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Racism/SRRacism/Pages/Mandate.aspx

Coherence between our foreign and domestic policies is important to Minister Wilmès. In the framework of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, Belgium will engage in the so-called "constructive dialogue" mechanism in April with the experts of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), who will then make recommendations to our country. In May, the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the human rights situation in our country will take place at the United Nations Human Rights Council. These two occasions offer our country the opportunity to refine and strengthen our policy in the fight against discrimination.