Sophie Wilmès presents Belgian priorities in Human Rights Council
Today, February 22, the 46th session of the UN Human Rights Council started in Geneva and will continue until March 23. On this occasion, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sophie addressed the ministerial part of the session. She presented the priorities of the Belgian government and shared some reflections on the current challenges in the field of human rights.
The promotion and protection of human rights is a cornerstone of Belgium's foreign policy. This is particularly reflected in Belgium's commitment on the multilateral level. Our country has just completed a two-year term as chair of the Security Council's Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict. Belgium's regular mandates within the Human Rights Council, for example on the universal abolition of the death penalty, are another example of that commitment.
For Belgium, the Human Rights Council is first and foremost a forum for dialogue and frank exchanges, committed to the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the universal level, in all regions and all societies, regardless of their political system.
The results that the Council can achieve, depend on the States that take part in it and their participation in its work. In her statement, the Minister recalls Belgium's conviction that only by continuing the dialogue within this important institution, we can succeed in defining a common path to improve the human rights situation. This dialogue takes various forms: exchanges of good practices, technical cooperation on specific subjects, but also, when the situation requires it, condemnation of serious or systematic human rights violations or abuses.
The Human Rights Council has several instruments at its disposal to carry out its mission, including monitoring mechanisms that allow it to examine geographical or thematic situations, known as "special procedures." Currently, there are 11 geographical and 44 thematic mandates. These mechanisms add value to the Council's work. It is therefore essential to facilitate on-site visits by special rapporteurs, which Belgium does systematically and permanently, as the Minister also emphasized.
During this 46th session, the Council will address a range of geographical and thematic situations, including Belarus, Eritrea, Iran, Mali, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Syria, as well as the death penalty, torture, freedom of religion or belief, racism and economic, social and cultural rights.
The 46th session of the Human Rights Council can be followed at: http://webtv.un.org/live/