Terrorism

Terrorism is a global phenomenon that requires a concerted response from the international community.

Fight against terrorism

Belgium supports and promotes a comprehensive and inclusive approach towards the combating of terrorism and attaches great importance to achieving the correct balance between prevention and repression and to reintegration and rehabilitation.
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A comprehensive and inclusive approach

Belgium supports and promotes a comprehensive and inclusive approach towards the combating of terrorism and attaches great importance to achieving the correct balance between prevention and repression and to reintegration and rehabilitation. Such an approach requires close cooperation and coordination between the various actors, policy areas and all competent authorities from the federal to the local level. This inclusive approach is coordinated by the Coordination Unit for Threat Analysis (CUTA) and tackling the problem as a whole involves a collaboration between numerous partners to deal with all facets of the problem, in particular the FPS Foreign Affairs, the FPS Interior, the FPS Justice, the FPS Finance and the Ministry of Defence, as well as the intelligence services, the Financial Intelligence Processing Unit, the federal and local police, the Public Prosecutors' Office, the Regions and Communities, and the municipalities.

The organisations above work together in order to achieve common goals:

  • to protect citizens and infrastructure against terrorist attacks
  • to prevent and counter radicalisation and violent extremism
  • to dismantle terrorist networks and combat the financing of those networks
  • to prosecute and punish the perpetrators of terrorist crimes and reintegrate them into society
  • to provide support to the victims of terrorist acts.

Successful counterterrorism efforts depend not only on domestic coordination, but also on effective international cooperation. The network of Belgian diplomatic and consular missions plays an important role in that regard, by providing relevant information about global developments in the fight against terrorism and by monitoring cooperation with international partners.

National policy

announced a number of counterterrorism measures, including the creation of the National Security Council. The National Security Council is responsible for ensuring coordination between the relevant departments and for setting overall priorities. In 2017, a further 28 security measures were adopted, and meanwhile, the system for combating terrorism and violent extremism is still being gradually fine-tuned to provide the most effective possible response to the challenges identified. Since then, Belgium has expanded its multidisciplinary efforts, among other things to improve the legal and institutional framework around the fight against terrorism, to ensure border security, to prevent and counter radicalisation and to expand and implement follow-up, rehabilitation, and reintegration measures.

In order to prevent radicalisation and violent extremism, a “Radicalism Action Plan” (Plan R) was drawn up in 2006. This Plan R has since been revised and updated several times in the light of ongoing developments of the terrorist threat and in order to adopt an inclusive approach to the phenomenon. In September 2021, Plan R was succeeded by the National Strategy Against Terrorism and Extremism. Based on past experience and lessons learned, the new strategy combines a social-preventive, administrative, police and judicial approach and an approach focusing on social reintegration. In addition, all levels of Belgian politics (both at federal level and within the federated entities) and the various services involved combating terrorism are included in the strategy. This therefore enables Belgium to mount a national response to the phenomenon. The Strategy allows the various agencies to provide a coordinated response to all forms of extremism and terrorism, whether religious, ideological or otherwise, based upon a common framework.

International cooperation

Belgium actively participates in international cooperation in the fight against terrorism, on a European and global level. Within the FPS Foreign Affairs, the Directorate General for Multilateral Affairs and Globalisation:

  • coordinates Belgium's contribution to that international cooperation, including the positions Belgium has adopted and the related communications 
  • ensures that Belgium abides by its international obligations
  • ensures, when requested, that reports are submitted to the competent supervisory bodies of international organisations.

Within the European Union

Belgium works closely with the other Member States and the institutions of the European Union. An important guide in that regard is the Counterterrorism Strategy adopted by the Council of the EU in 2005 and since updated. Following the attacks on the offices of Charlie Hebdo in January 2015 in Paris, the Heads of State and Government approved a Statement on the overall EU approach to the fight against terrorism and radicalisation on 12 February 2015. The Statement contains measures divided into three chapters: ensuring the safety of citizens, preventing radicalisation and securing values and cooperation with international partners. Those basic texts are regularly transformed into Council Conclusions on external action in the fight against terrorism and in order to prevent violent extremism. The latest version of these is dated June 2022. In December 2020, the European Commission, for its part, published a new Counter-Terrorism Agenda.

Within the International Coalition to defeat Daesh

Along with more than 80 countries from all continents, Belgium is a member of the International Coalition to defeat Daesh. Belgium is an active member of the Coalition's five working groups including “Foreign Terrorist Fighters”, “Counter Finance” and “Communication”. Belgium also contributes to the Coalition's stabilisation work in the form of financial support in Syria and Iraq.

Within the United Nations (UN)

Belgium attaches great importance to international cooperation in the fight against terrorism within the framework of the UN. This is also one of Belgium's priorities as a non-permanent member of the Security Council (2019-2020). It actively participates in the biannual review of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and in the implementation of relevant Security Council resolutions. Belgium has ratified the majority of the UN Conventions against terrorism and supports activities and projects such as the UN Secretary General's Action Plan to Prevent Violent Extremism and the initiatives of the UNODC Terrorism Prevention Branch, the UN Security Council's Counter Terrorism Committee as well as the initiatives of its Executive Directorate (CTED). Moreover, Belgium was the subject of a 2021-2022 review by a group of experts from the UN Security Council. The aim was to evaluate how Belgium has implemented the UN resolutions on counterterrorism. This was the first evaluation since the Brussels attacks in 2016 and great progress has been made, not only in terms of legislation, but also in terms of prevention