Belgium adopted its most recent National Action Plan (NAP) in 2017 for the period 2017-2021. The drafting of the NAP was coordinated by the Institute for the Equality of Women and Men and the FPS Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, in collaboration with the Ministry of Defense, the FPS Interior and the SPF Justice as well as consultations with civil society. The NAP identifies several overarching objectives: to promote the implementation of an international regulatory framework; to integrate gender perspectives in the actions taken by Belgium in conflicts, peace, and security; to fight against all forms of violence against women and girls, and specifically sexual violence; to encourage women to participate in processes regarding conflict, peace, and security; and to ensure the oversight and monitoring of the implementation of the WPS Agenda and of the NAP. Each objective has corresponding goals, actions, indicators, and responsible parties, but does not include an allocated budget.
Belgium’s third NAP is preceded by two other NAPs adopted in 2008 and 2013 and implemented for the period 2008-2012 and 2013-2016, respectively. Both the second and third NAPs have standalone sections devoted to lessons learned from the implementation of the previous NAPs. Even though all three NAPs have an international focus in the implementation of the WPS agenda, the second and third NAPs do emphasize the importance of focusing on gender equality and promoting gender mainstreaming across national institutions in Belgium. Different from the first two NAPs, the third NAP also addresses disarmament and arms control, including embracing a “gender-based approach” with regards to decisions and actions within arms treaties and conventions.
Belgium does not have a recent history of armed conflict, but is a key contributor to UN peacekeeping missions and NATO operations. Furthermore, Belgium continues to export arms to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, which perpetuates and exacerbates the gendered impact of arms transfers.
Belgium is a major contributor to development aid and humanitarian assistance, including being a partner of the Call to Action on Protection from Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies, a multi-stakeholder initiative that aims to mitigate and provide accountability for gender-based violence in humanitarian emergencies.
In 2019, the Belgian parliament adopted a law to establish a human rights institution at the federal level. Despite this development, civil society activists have raised concerns about the overall violation of migrants’ rights in the country.
At the multilateral level, Belgium most recently served as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for the period 2019-2020.