Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defense Didier Reynders is participating in the 40th session of the High Level Segment of the Human Rights Council today, which will meet in Geneva (Switzerland) until 22 March.
For four weeks, the Council examines numerous human rights reports on various human rights issues in some fifty countries. 14 countries will also undergo a Universal Periodic Review, a periodic evaluation of their human rights policy.
People are still victims of violence, injustice and discrimination because of their origin, color, religion or sexual orientation. As a member of the Human Rights Council over the past three years, Belgium has been committed to improve and protect the rights of these people.
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Even now that our country is no longer a member of the Human Rights Council, it continues the human rights battle in other fora. Human rights are paramount during the Belgian mandate in the UN Security Council. For Didier Reynders, human rights are not the third or last pillar of the UN, but they are crucial to achieving lasting peace and development. Closer cooperation between the headquarters in Geneva and New York can promote this.
The Minister suggests the Human Rights Council to continue investing in partnerships with regional organizations to increase its efficiency. The Council of Europe in Strasbourg (France) for example, is a beacon of human rights, democracy and the rule of law, which must guarantee peace in Europe. The European Union can also contribute to better protection of fundamental rights. In this regard, Didier Reynders has taken the initiative to organize a periodic evaluation of the compliance with the rule of law between the EU member states.
To underline the Belgian commitment, the Minister announced that Belgium is proposing its candidacy to re-join the Human Rights Council from 2023 to 2025.
He will also participate in a debate on human rights violations in the application of the death penalty. Belgium has been working for years for the universal abolition of the death penalty. That is why our country is also receiving this week, together with the EU, the Seventh Global Congress against the Death Penalty in Brussels.
In the margins of the Human Rights Council, the Minister has a bilateral meeting with the High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet. He also participates in the pledging conference for the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, for which Belgium will contribute an extra 8.6 million euros.
Didier Reynders will also sign a financing agreement with the International Trade Center to promote inclusive and sustainable trade, especially in Africa.
Lastly, the Minister will address the disarmament conference, of which Belgium is one of the 65 members. An excellent opportunity to support the very topical objective of this international conference: a safer world thanks to international disarmament agreements.