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Human rights

The Human Rights Council 

Founded in 2006, the Human Rights Council aims to ensure the respect and promotion of human rights in the world, as well as to prevent and respond to major human rights crises. It is made up of 47 member states that meet in Geneva for a minimum of ten weeks, divided into three sessions a year. Special sessions may also be held to respond to crisis situations. The Council also supports the mandates of Special Rapporteurs on countries or themes. These Rapporteurs are independent experts nominated to analyze and report on the human rights situation in a specific country, or relating to a particular human right.

Belgium was elected to the Human Rights Council in November 2015 and was a member of the Council until the end of 2018. Belgium held the position of Vice-President and Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council in 2016.

Belgium is a candidate for a new mandate in the Human Rights Council for the period 2023-2025 .

The Council also meets for sessions dedicated to the Universal Periodic Review. Every four years, this mechanism gives an in-depth analysis of the human rights situation in every UN member country. Belgium actively participates in this exercise by seeking explanations from many countries , as well as by formulating recommendations on issues which are particular to each of these countries.Belgium has undergone its third Universal Periodic Review in May 2021 (for more information please visit here.)

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) 

The OHCHR aim is to promote and inform the various players in matters of respect for human rights. It is directed by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, currently Mme Michelle Bachelet. Belgium supports the institution’s independence, which is essential to the improvement of the worldwide human rights situation. Belgium also voluntarily finances the OHCHR through both core and project funding. 

Belgian Initiatives


Belgium is an active supporter of multilateralism both within the EU and the UN and engages proactively with other states to promote and strengthen the respect for human rights. Belgium is more particularly active in the following topics and areas : 

  • Support to country-specific and thematic Special Rapporteurs and Independent Experts of the Human Rights Council and safeguarding the independence of the System of Special Procedures and their mandate holders
  • Fight against racism and all forms of racial discrimination 
  • Respect for human rights while combating terrorism 
  • Violence against women and children, in particular in armed conflicts 
  • Abolition of the practice of death penalty 
  • Promotion of the freedom of expression
  • Business and the respect for and promotion of Human Rights
  • Accountability, including transitional justice
  • Monitoring the implementation of the outcomes of various world Conferences, including those on racism and women’s rights
  • Cooperation between the OHCHR and regional mechanisms established to promote respect for human rights.

For further information please visit :