Embassy of Belgium and RCUNIO establish bonds of friendship
On November 22, 2017, Caroline Vermeulen, Deputy Head of Mission, who was accompanied by Sara Jacob, Officer, Political and Economic Section, both from the Belgium Embassy visited the Research Center of United Nations and International Organizations (RCUNIO) at the Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU). They were warmly received by RCUNIO´s delegation led by Associate Professor Liu Tiewa, Deputy Director of the Research area of the center, and Vice-Secretary General Wang Lijuan and fellow researchers Cristina Font, Renata Kispal and Jan Wang.
Belgium has submitted its candidature for a non-permanent member seat on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for the period 2019-2020. The elections will be held on June 2018 by the members of the United Nations General Assembly.
The UNSC is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations, charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. It is powered include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of international sanctions, and the authorization of military action through Security Council resolutions. The UNSC consists of 15 members of which 5 are permanent members with veto right (China, U.S, U.K, France, and Russia), and 10 non-permanent members, which are elected 5 in 5 each year for a period of 2 years. The candidates must obtain two-thirds of the votes of the UN General Assembly. The quotas are distributed according to regional criteria: Africa chooses three members, Latin America and the Caribbean choose two, as does Asia and Western Europe, while Eastern Europe chooses one. Alternatively, either African or Asian, a member must be from the Arab world.
During the election 2018, Belgium disputes the seat with Germany and Israel. Three countries; only one seat. Its campaign takes place at a global level, being Brussels, New York, and Geneva the main cities where the largest number of events will be held. However, the Belgium Embassy is really interested in the Chinese opinion on this matter. Caroline Vermeulen and Associate Professor Liu Tiewa had a stimulating conversation about the role of UN in today´s world from both countries point of view. They observed the similarities in their perspectives of peacekeeping missions and both countries economic efforts in multilateral ODA as well as the importance of SDG.
Over the past years, Belgium has contributed to peacekeeping missions in Somalia, Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, Lebanon, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mali. Belgium is also an active member of the Peacebuilding Commission and has served as president of the Country Specific Configuration for the Central African Republic.
Belgium also strives to direct at least 50% of its official development aid to the least developed countries (LDCs). Belgian development cooperation focuses on 14 partner countries and revolves around two central axes: a rights-based approach and sustainable and inclusive growth. This includes a focus on fragile states and post-conflict zones, with priority for the Great Lakes region and West and North Africa. This substantive, geographic focus prevents fragmentation, and enables a coherent approach to cross border issues such as peace, security, regional stability, climate, and migration. All of this has one purpose: to increase the impact of development cooperation in the field. The last years, Belgian humanitarian aid has contributed to supporting the most vulnerable population groups in many crises including Syria, Iraq, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the occupied Palestinian territories, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.
Caroline Vermeulen and Liu Tiewa, from their different position as a diplomat and as a scholar, agree as well on the importance of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDG). Poverty alleviation, ensuring food security, reducing inequalities, improving global health, managing scarce natural resources and promoting women empowerment is important for peace and stability and for development.
The Deputy Head of the Belgium Mission was also interested in BFSU and the center, RCUNIO. As Associate Professor Liu Tiewa explained to them, ´thanks to the high education given here, BFSU is the birthplace of future Chinese diplomats’. RCUNIO as a think tank affiliated to the university also aims to build a world-class academic research center on UN and international organizations as well as a leading academic research platform with high-level talents. In RCUNIO´s aim to train the future talents and young professionals, the Advanced Training Program at the UN is the main tool of the center that serves that purpose. Since 2010 the main destinations of the short-term training programs have been New York, Washington D.C., Geneva, Milan, Rome, Prague, London, and Austria, accumulating more than 28 programs. Caroline Vermeulen was really impressed to hear about RCUNIO´S project. She would like to cooperate with the center in order to put Belgium on the list of cities that Chinese students visit during their training programs.
Both the BFSU, as well as RCUNIO and the Belgium Embassy hope to start a fruitful intellectual and professional cooperation in the near future.