Interministerial Committee for Host Nation Policy

A Host Nation Policy (HNP) is a national strategy defined and implemented towards international governmental organisations which have HQ’s or a representation (mission, liaison office…) in Belgium, in order to to have them feel welcome and valued.

Short history

History of the Interministerial Committee for Host Nation Policy.
  1. Last updated on

Council of Ministers of 9th June 1966

As a consequence of the decision of the French Government, in 1966, to leave the military structure of NATO, NATO and SHAPE had to leave France and look for another member country of the Alliance to establish their HQ’s.

In these circumstances, Belgium decided to invite NATO to move its HQ to Brussels and SHAPE to move to Mons (Casteau).

With a view to ensure a smooth settlement of SHAPE in Mons (Casteau), the Belgian Council of Ministers decided on June 9th 1966 to create an interministerial committee (CISHIC), mandated to "study the problems relating to the establishment of SHAPE in Belgium". The mission of this committee was to coordinate actions of all competent authorities and to ensure liaison with NATO and also with the entrepreneurs involved in the process.

By Royal Decree of October 14th 1966, Count de Kerchove de Denterghem was appointed as Chairman of the committee and of all its subordinated committees and groups.

This Royal Decree defines the missions of the chairman as follows:

  • He coordinates and centralises the activities of the ministerial departments and public services relating to the transfer of NATO structures to Belgium. He is empowered to make all necessary contacts with the relevant authorities of NATO and SHAPE.
  • He makes suggestions for decisions to the competent Ministers and ensures the implementation of the decisions taken.
  • The information needed for his mission are provided by the competent ministries and public services.
  • The chairman can ask public administrations to examine issues in order to give him advice.

Council of Ministers of 12th September 1997

In the 1970-‘80’s, the missions of CISHIC were extended to the study of problems relating to the establishment in Belgium of all international organizations (IO’s), in particular the European Communities, that later became the European Union.

In these years, the presence of IO’s in Belgium increased substantially, both in terms of scope of their activities and of staffing. Fully aware of this evolution, the Belgian Government decided to develop a global approach towards IO’s, and tasked a group of experts to formulate a host nation policy (HNP).

This HNP was approved by the Council of ministers on 12th September 1997. This new policy was basically intended to confirm the position of Belgium as an attractive location for the establishment of IO’s and to thoroughly examine requests of IO’s in this regard. CISHIC was confirmed as the competent authority of the Belgian Government to implement the HNP.

Council of Ministers of 13th October 1999

On 13th October 2006, the Council of Ministers approved a revised HNP, detailing the objective, the components and the rules for implementation of the HNP, as well as the cooperation mechanism with language-based communities, geography-based regions and districts (“communes”).CISHIC was re-named CIPS (Comité interministériel pour la Politique de Siège) which stands for “Interministerial Committee for the Host nation Policy”.

For the implementation of the HNP, the Belgian government has mandated the CIPS to coordinate with all Belgian and international official authorities concerned and to operate as sole focal point vis-à-vis the IO’s for all aspects of the HNP The HNP is part of the Belgian foreign policy and it is thus coordinated by the Minister of Foreign Affairs under the responsibility of the Prime Minister.

The HNP is a proactive and strategic policy that aims at strengthening the attractive position of Belgium as host country for IO’s. As of today, more than sixty important IO’s totalling approx. 40 000 international civil servants and their families have HQ’s or a representation in Belgium.

HNP has two components. First, the full compliance by Belgium, as a host nation, of its obligations under international law towards IO’s established on its territory, i.e. the granting and proper implementation of privileges and immunities. Secondly, there is the hosting “as such”, i.e. all the actions which, besides and above the implementation of privileges and immunities, contribute to make Belgium more attractive for IO’s. For example, the possibility to obtain office space at advantageous conditions is a decisive factor for an IO in choosing a location for its HQ’s of representation office. Also, special attention is given to the needs of IO’s staff, by providing information about the host nation, notably on mobility, security, and cultural and social events, and also in assisting staff with administrative procedures.

As far as the elements of the HNP belonging to the competence of federated entities are concerned, the consultations with them take place in the framework of the consultation procedures for foreign relations established after the revision of the Belgian constitution in 1993. A similar consultation is foreseen with district (“communes”) authorities concerned with some aspects of the HNP.

Council of Ministers of December 2d 2016

The council of Ministers approves, on proposition of Prime minister Charles Michel and Minister of the budget Sophie Wilmès, the planning and management of the credits and projects for which the federal state acts as “host nation” in favor of the international organizations.

The host nation policy concerns the relations between Belgium and the international governmental organizations. The implementation of the host nation policy is a responsibility of the Interministerial Committee for Host Nation Policy (CIPS-ICZ).  A certain number of host nation policy projects  request a regular or an ad hoc financing on the basis of seat agreements, bilateral agreements with international organizations or decisions of the council of Ministers. The requested funds will  now  be rationalized and the costs centralized, at the occasion of the budget-control 2017, in the new program “Host Nation Policy” which has been created within the budget of the FPS Chancery of the Prime Minister.

The chapters of this budgetary program cover the expenditures by the Belgian federal level in favor of  the international organizations or their representations on Belgian territory. Taking into account the agreements between the Belgian state and the organization, the budgetary program can cover the costs concerning:

  • the infrastructure: the building, the rent or the maintenance (European schools, NCIA, SHAPE etc.)
  • the functioning (SHAPE International School)
  • an administrative or logistical mission which Belgium carries out for the organization (HNS SHAPE)
  • the personnel employed by a federal service for the implementation of administrative procedures concerning the temporary establishment of personnel of the organization in Belgium (National defense, FPS Interior, FPS Finances…)

The chairmen of the committee

1966 – 1972  Graaf de Kerchove de Denterghem
1972 – 1976  Jean Verwilghen
1976 – 1977  Joost Goosenaerts
1979 – 1979  Frans Baekelandt
1980 – 1983  Pierre Marchal
1983 – 1987  Jean-François de Liedekerke
1987 – 1990  Alfred Ameel
1990 – 1996  Balder Posthuma
1996 – 1998  Hugo Fonder
1998 – 2002  Michel Godfrind
2002 – 2007  Baudouin de la Kethulle de Ryhove
2007 – 2010  Michel Godfrind
2010 – 2011  Jan Van Dessel
2011 –  ...       Peter Martin


rue Ducale / Hertogstraat 4
1000 Brussels
Tel: 00 32 2 501 04 87