Today is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. On this occasion, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders reiterates Belgium’s commitment to defending and promoting human rights throughout the world.
Seventy years after its adoption, on 10 December 1948, by the United Nations General Assembly, the Declaration continues indeed to embody the common ideal to be achieved by all peoples and nations. As the foundation of the universality of the values of equality, justice and dignity, it remains as relevant as it was on the first day. The universality of human rights is the foundation of the modern international order, the primary obligation of all States. It remains the compass that guides Belgium’s action, both in our domestic policy and on the international stage, towards a better and fairer future for all.
Over the past three years, our country has been tirelessly involved in the Human Rights Council on many issues such as the fight against impunity, respect for human rights in the fight against terrorism or the promotion of the participation of civil society. Our country has also worked to protect and strengthen human rights institutions on the ground, starting with the Human Rights Council itself but also with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights or regional organizations such as the Council of Europe and the African Union. At the end of its term of office, Belgium intends to continue these efforts as an observer member.
From next January until the end of 2020, it is as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council that Belgium will endeavor to keep the defense of human rights at the top of the international agenda. Peace and security, like development, necessarily require respect for the fundamental rights of each individual.
2019 will also be the year of the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the Second Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which aims to abolish the death penalty. The right to life, enshrined in Article 3 of the Declaration, is a fundamental condition for the enjoyment of all other rights enshrined therein. With this conviction in mind, our country will host, together with the European Union, the Seventh World Congress against the Death Penalty in Brussels from 26 February to 1 March next year.