Unia recognised internationally as a National Human Rights Institution

10 June 2018
Area of action: All areas of action
Grounds of discrimination: All grounds of discrimination

Unia was recently recognised as a national institution for the protection of human rights, B status, by the competent international bodies. Unia received this recognition for its independence and commitment to human rights, such as the right to equal opportunities and non-discrimination. ‘The B status is the first step for our country towards an institution that protects all human rights’, says Unia director Patrick Charlier.

Unia received this status from the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI), which is supported by the United Nations. ‘Belgium once again has an internationally recognised human rights institution. This status sends a strong message for Unia. It means that anyone can report discrimination to us. In the past year, we have been contacted by a record number of people who felt they had experienced discrimination’, explains Patrick Charlier.

In 2014, the former Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism lost its status as national human rights institutions in the context of the split into Unia and Myria. Unia was thus required to demonstrate its independence and expertise anew.

Our work continues

Unia emphasises that this recognition is not an end in itself. It received the B status because its mandate is focused on discrimination and the rights of disabled persons. However, as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Belgium needs to have an institution that ensures respect for all human rights, which is the prerequisite for A status.

‘Unia has been recommending establishing an A-status institution in Belgium since 1999. We would also like to emphasise the fact that Belgium currently has many institutions mandated to defend and promote human rights, such as the Institute for the Equality of Women and Men as well as Myria’, adds Patrick Charlier.