27 April 2017
Prime Minister Charles Michel: Mr. President, colleagues, I will start by mentioning the facts as they were reported to me before answering as accurately as possible to the questions have rightly been addressed to me.
First, the facts: indeed, in multilateral contexts, appointments and votes take place quite regularly. Usually, like within the United Nations, this happens without a voting procedure in the strictest sense, through the clean-slate procedure that is applied whenever there is a function available and a candidate to run for it. This is a very common practice in international organizations.
With regard to the election in question here, unusually, in particular because a new administration has just been set up in the United States, a motion was brought up for a vote to take place. We were informed of this. Only a few hours passed between the time the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs was informed of this and the time when the response was supposed to be communicated.
Thus, a vote was expressed by our diplomats on behalf of Belgium. I regret this vote. (Applause). If it could be done again and if it was possible to proceed with a political assessment at the government level, I of course would have pleaded against a favorable vote. There is no ambiguity in this matter.
With regard to women’s rights, of course, I assume this, at every bench of this assembly, we must be determined to double-down on our efforts, to promote women’s rights as well as the universal values of human rights. Even more certainly after a situation like this one. It was Belgium, a few weeks ago, when the United States lifted support for “She Decides,” that decided to mobilize even more means in favor of promoting women’s rights.
I understand that in a democratic setting, we are tempted to seek out controversy. My answers are clear. A vote was expressed. I am not saying that the position is secret. I regret this vote. We will draw the consequences of this in the future and I have given instructions for a political assessment to be made at the highest level in order for this not to occur again. In short, we are fully determined to promoting the universal values of human rights.