72nd Session of the UN General Assembly: speech

Mr. President,

Mr. Secretary-General,

Ladies and Gentlemen Heads of State and Government,

Ladies and Gentlemen Heads of Delegations,

Priority: Climate – Environment


I wish to express our support for the victims of the recent hurricanes, and for the victims of the earthquakes in Mexico.

These natural disasters brutally shatter lives and dreams. They lead to instability and insecurity. Above all, these catastrophes sound a warning shot. A reminder of the extreme urgency with which we must act, together, to combat global warming.

In the wake of the Paris Agreements, I wish to welcome the initiative of French President Mr. Emmanuel Macron aimed at enshrining a true and ambitious "Pact for the environment".

We can no longer postpone what we must do today. Doubt is no longer allowed. For many countries, and in particular the island states in the Pacific, the Indian Ocean and the Caribbean, these natural phenomena have a direct impact on their survival.


We must bequeath to our children a liveable and breathable planet that thrives thanks to its bio-diversity.

Let us use the best of our intelligence, the strength of our innovation capabilities to meet this existential challenge.


Priority: Fundamental freedoms - Rule of law - Dignity

We desire a better world. To tirelessly combat injustice, inequality and all forms of discrimination, whether they are based on religion, culture, skin colour or sexual orientation. To advance fundamental and universal freedoms.

When one desires the best for their country and countrymen, there is no room for fearing the freedom of the press or the freedom of expression.


Too often still, elections are manipulated, justice is rigged, opacity is organised and corruption is widespread.

National and international institutions must guarantee personal freedoms and the constant quest for greater emancipation and greater dignity for all.


Sovereignty must be fully respected. Yet sovereignty may not be a smoke screen, or an excuse for attempting to legitimise exactions and enslavement.


It is not a matter of teaching moral lessons. Nor of desiring to dictate, by will or by force, a "ready-made" model of democracy.

It is a matter of convincing people.

It is a matter of defending universal values without complacency through constant and tireless dialogue.  For every human being. Wherever they are from and wherever they intend to go.

Never and nowhere has breaking diplomatic ties advanced universal values. Breaking off a dialogue is a cowardly act of abandonment of those who fight for more freedom within the country.


Priority- Security


We desire a safer world. Peace, security and stability are the best guarantees for ensuring that each and every individual remains the master of their lives: have enough to eat, work, have access to housing, put their children in school. Too many conflicts, too many wars, too much hate still plague dreams and hopes today.


All continents have had to contend with the scourge of terrorism.

Feeding hate, injecting the poison of division, these are the macabre goals of the terrorists.

Blind and barbaric killings which destroy the destinies of victims and their families. None may remain indifferent to this.


My country is a party to the international coalition. Military forces are pushing back Daesh in Iraq and Syria. We are committed to helping destroyed countries rebuild themselves.

We must win the battle for universal values. Our values of freedom, tolerance, and non-discrimination are stronger. The will to live together, respecting each other's differences, cultures and customs must prevail. 


I would like to quote these words said by Gandhi, which are powerfully accurate and relevant: "fighting hate with hate only serves to spread hate".


The uncontrolled proliferation of weapons, and nuclear weapons in particular, is another serious threat to the world's security.

The world is boiling over. There are many areas of conflict: Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Ukraine for instance. 


The most sustainable and mutually beneficial solutions are and always will be political and diplomatic in nature, rather than military.


The agreement entered into with Iran concerning nuclear issues after several years of negotiations must be preserved and implemented.


My country has many substantial differences with Iran. And yet, this agreement provides a channel for dialogue to reduce tensions and reduce the threat level.

The agreement is an opportunity to come to a consensus on objectives and manage our disputes peacefully.


Thoughtlessly sweeping such an agreement aside, without putting forward an alternative, does not seem wise or desirable to our mind.


The situation in North Korea is also an enlightening testimony. Unlike Iran, there was no ongoing process of dialogue and negotiation. The result: a dangerous escalation that threatens peace and security.


We denounce an autocratic and provocative regime. But simply denouncing it is not enough.


We must all mobilise to weave the threads of dialogue, appealing to the sense of responsibility of stakeholders such as China and Russia.


Priority: Prosperity


Economic growth must serve social cohesion. The growth rate, even if it reaches double figures, in no ways automatically guarantees a fair and equitable redistribution of the wealth produced.


Capitalism is no more and no less than a means at the service of economic and social development. We support free trade and an open global economy.
The circulation of goods, services and knowledge must foster development and better shared progress.


There is no sustainable development without development. Poverty cannot be eradicated without first achieving greater prosperity.


Freedom of entrepreneurship must be directed towards the real economy, the production of goods and services, and the creation of jobs. We must promote the strengthening of small and medium-sized enterprises.


We cannot allow the law of the jungle, where only the strongest survive, to be imposed upon us. It is necessary to better distinguish between investment and speculation.


Investment, unlike financial speculation, is a responsible and virtuous act which benefits society as a whole, which stimulates innovation and progress.


Throughout history, freedom of movement and free trade have brought people closer together. These principles were at the core of the European project 60 years ago.


The European Union negotiates treaties with various partners such as Canada and Japan. The treaties contain social and environmental clauses. This openness to the world, with rules, is the solid response to withdrawal and protectionism.


History has shown that barriers and walls between people are illusions that cannot last and that always crumble in the face of the natural thirst for freedom, openness and innovation.


The 2030 Agenda defines an ambitious framework for achieving the sustainable development objectives.


Promoting private initiative, strengthening the rule of law, encouraging education for girls and boys, developing agriculture, building on good governance…

All of these are the best recipes for preventing conflicts and developing a better, fairer and stronger world.


Priority: Migration


All of us are concerned by migration, whether in the North or in the South.


Our country welcomes those who request asylum and are fleeing war and persecution.

And we will fight the lawless traffickers who throw women and children from makeshift boats while on a journey that too often ends in tragedy.


We have a duty to assist those who are suffering. Development in the countries of origin is the key to resolving this situation.

We must invest in the least developed countries.


We remain firmly committed to concluding a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration by 2018. We advocate for a comprehensive approach that should facilitate legal migration and enable re-admission into the countries of origin while guaranteeing the safety of individuals.


Method: increased multilateralism


Multilateralism is a robust and reliable driver for building a better world.


Coordination and consensus-building are necessary.


The very essence of the United Nations is sometimes called into question.


Globalisation generates doubts and fears.

And yet, multilateralism is not the cause of all these upheavals…

On the contrary, it is a major element of the solution.

We must respect each other's independence. We must also acknowledge our interdependence and recognise the virtues of concerted action.


We must build the consensus in which all nations, large and small, have a role to play and have their say.


Belgium is fully in line with the Secretary-General's vision for reforming our organisation.

Not because reform is the end that justifies the means, but because today's world demands more determined and more results-oriented action.


Multilateralism is a complex endeavour which comes with its share of blockages and frustrations, but also with success stories that receive very little coverage.

In Colombia, for instance, the concerted action of a brave Head of State, the region and UN organisations helped to put an end to one of the world's longest ongoing conflicts.


Multilateralism also requires a comprehensive, inclusive and sustainable approach. 

Prevention, conflict resolution and peace-building must be seen as a continuum.

The Belgian presence within MINUSMA has enabled us to see all the benefits of a comprehensive and inclusive approach, combining the 3 Ds: Diplomacy, Defence and Development within a united goal of lasting peace. 


International and regional consultation must also be strengthened.

When regional stakeholders and the United Nations are aligned and work towards the same goals, great things can be achieved.


I am thinking of Gambia, and the G5 Sahel force, for instance.


Similarly, in Central Africa, the countries in the African Great Lakes region have a decisive role to play.


The security situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo has deteriorated considerably and the humanitarian crisis is worrying.


At a time when discussions on the cost of peacekeeping operations have started, we cannot abandon the DRC. On the contrary, we must support it in entering an irreversible democratic process through the holding of honest, transparent and inclusive elections.


Africa and Europe's destinies are linked. The one's challenges are the other's challenges, whether they involve security, migration or development. We must make efforts to move towards an uninhibited relationship, freed from the demons of the past, on an equal footing. And looking ahead.


In the Middle East, we continue to advocate for a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine. 


As regards Syria, an end to this endless conflict will only be possible when the international community as a whole has the political will to settle it and develop a common strategy.


Combating impunity and strengthening international justice are central to Belgium's priorities. This year, we filed a revised version of the amendments to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The purpose of the amendments is to prohibit the use of four types of weapons which cause immense suffering and kill indiscriminately.


We wish to foster cooperation between States to combat the impunity of the most severe international crimes.


In this regard, we call upon all the States who have not yet done so to support the initiative for opening negotiations for a new treaty of mutual assistance and extradition aimed at strengthening national prosecution of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.


Our goal for the United Nations must be to build, day after day, an efficient organisation working towards the common interest of the Member States. The key to success lies in the ability to listen actively, the art of compromise and the strength of convictions to have them ratified.


Through its transparent and constructive attitude, my country achieves results which benefit everyone. Belgium is a land of compromise!


It is in this spirit that we are applying for a non-permanent seat on the Security Council.

Based on the international support we enjoy and our experience, we are ready to take on these responsibilities.

To build consensus and act in the interest of peace.


As Jean Jacques Rousseau once wrote: "Man can only create his own happiness by working towards the happiness of other".

We are ready to work towards that happiness.


Thank you.