What are human rights?Universal human rights are enshrined and guaranteed in various forms. States adopt standards in international and regional forums to ensure the promotion and protection of human rights.
What are human rights?
Human rights are rights inherent to all people, regardless of race, gender, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status.
InstitutionsBelgium is actively involved in several organisations and helps to promote and protect human rights, namely the United Nations, the European Union, the Council of Europe, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
European Union (EU)
Respect for human rights, human dignity and the principles of liberty, democracy and the rule of law are values shared by all EU Member States. These values are also decisive for the Union's policies, both within and outside its territory. On the one hand, the EU safeguards the fundamental rights of every EU citizen, and, on the other hand, it promotes human rights around the world.
Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)
The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) was established in 1973 as the 'Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe' (CSCE).
Council of Europe
The Council of Europe was founded in 1949 and has 47 members. The aim of this regional organisation is to promote the unification of the European continent by creating a common democratic and legal area in which democracy, the rule of law and human rights are guaranteed.
United Nations (UN)
The United Nations has a number of institutions and bodies that promote and protect human rights, such as the General Assembly, the Human Rights Council, the treaty bodies, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
Specific themesFind out more about the following themes: abolition of the death penalty, fight against impunity, freedom of expression, fight against racism and discrimination, rights of LGBTI persons, rights of the child, children and armed conflict, gender equality and women's rights, violence against women and girls, women, peace and security, human rights defenders, respect for human rights in the fight against terrorism, businesses, and human rights.
Abolition of the death penalty
Belgium has not applied the death penalty for a very long time. In 1996, the penalty was legally abolished for all crimes, and in 2005 this abolition was enshrined in the constitution.
Business and human rights
Respect for human rights within the business world has been on the agenda of various international fora since the 1970s.
Children make up approximately one third of the world population. Children depend on their parents and caregivers. They are therefore in a vulnerable position and need additional protection.
Fight against impunity, including transitional justice
The fight against impunity is a priority for Belgium. Indeed, there is a significant risk of human rights violations in States that are plagued by conflict, but also by poor governance, repressive policies, corruption or a lack of capacity in judicial and security services.
Fight against racism and discrimination
Belgium attaches great importance to the fight against racism and has an extensive legal framework for combating racism, including the Law of 30 July 1981 punishing certain acts of racism and xenophobia and the Law of 10 May 2007 combating certain forms of discrimination.
Freedom of expression, including freedom of the press
The right to freedom of expression is a fundamental right guaranteed by the Belgian Constitution and various provisions in human rights treaties, including Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Gender and women's rights
Around the world, women are still victims of various forms of discrimination and inequality, both in their professional lives and at the family, economic, social, civilian, or political level. Women are also often victims of crimes such as domestic or sexual violence, forced marriages or child marriages, human trafficking, exploitation, or slavery, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and forced abortion.
Human rights defenders
Human rights defenders are natural and indispensable allies in promoting human rights and democratisation. They are individuals, groups or civil society organisations peacefully engaged in the promotion and protection of universally recognised human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Belgium has a progressive legal framework on the rights of LGBTI persons.
Respect for human rights in the fight against terrorism
Belgium condemns all forms of terrorism. The Belgian authorities are convinced that the fight against terrorism can only take place in full compliance with human rights and international humanitarian law.