We are all set and ready to go!

With the staffing of the secretariat as of 1 February 2021, we are now able to begin the substantive work and further development of the FIRM/FIDH. None too soon! One year after the publication of the act creating the FIRM/IFDH, the members of its board were elected by the Chamber of Representatives, and 19 months after that same date, the first meeting with the first four staff members took place in the FORUM offices.

The Organic Law of 12 May 2019

The "law establishing a Federal Institute for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights" was approved by the Chamber of Representatives on the final day -24 April 2019- of the 54th parliamentary session. The law was published in the Belgian Official Gazette on 21 June 2019 and entered into force on 1 July 2019 (French and Dutch text).

The Governing Board

The call for candidates for the Governing Board was published in the Official Gazette of 22 July 2019. On 2 en 16 July 2020, the 12 full members of the Governing Board were appointed by a vote in Parliament.

Two-year mandate

French-speaking members

  • Isabelle Fontignie
  • Muriel Clavie

Dutch-speaking members

  • Evelyne Maes
  • Willem Debeuckelaere

Four-year mandate

French-speaking members

  • Julie Lejeune
  • Jacques Fierens

Dutch-speaking members

  • Koen Lemmens
  • Eva Brems

Six-year mandate

French-speaking members

  • Olivier De Schutter
  • Isabelle Doyen

Dutch-speaking members

  • Guy Cox

The Governing Board held its first meeting on 2 September, 2020. By unanimity, Mr. Olivier De Schutter was appointed chair for the first year of operation and Ms. Eva Brems was appointed vice-chair. In July 2021, they will reverse their roles, with Ms. Brems taking up the chairmanship and Mr. De Schutter the vice-chairmanship. Pending the recruitment of staff, two secretaries were appointed: Ms. Muriel Clavie and Mr. Willem Debeuckelaere.

The Secretariat

With the administrative team in place, the IFDH can finally start the groundwork!

Ms. Martien Schotsmans is serving as Director of the Institute. She will be assisted by four staff members, Mr. Laurens Lavrysen and Mr. Michaël Merrigan and Mr. Arnaud Louwette and Mr. Laurent Fastrez. We expect to recruit more staff in the Spring of 2021.

Concertation across human rights bodies

In order to cooperate effectively with all sectoral bodies for the promotion and protection of human rights, provision is made in the Act establishing the FIRM/IFDH for the establishment of a concertation body. Pending its creation, concertation will continue to take place in an informal "Human Rights Platform" that has been operating for several years.

International collaboration

The FIRM/IFDH will join networks of national human rights institutions.

National human rights institutions participate in the International Alliance of Human Rights Institutes (GANHRI) and, at the European level, of in European Network of National Human Rights Institutes (ENNHRI).

The FIRM/IFDH aims for ‘A status’ accreditation under the Paris Principles. These Principles, adopted by the United Nations in 1993, establish criteria for national human rights institutions.

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