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BELGIUM: Unia (Interfederal Centre for Equal Opportunities)

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General Contact Information

Full name in English:

Unia

Full name in the national language(s):

Unia

Postal address:
Rue Royale 138, 1000 Brussels
Website:

www.unia.be

General email address:
info@unia.be
Helpline:

0800 12 800

Telephone number:

02 212 30 00

Twitter:

@unia

Other social media channels:

Facebook pages in French and Dutch

Languages in which your institution can be contacted:

English, Dutch, French, German

Person of contact for media enquiries:

nadine.brauns@unia.be

Name of the Head of the equality body:

Patrick Charlier and Els Keytsman

Engagement with Equinet

Contact Person

Name:

Nadine Brauns

Email:
nadine.brauns@unia.be

Main Informations

Overview

Unia is an interfederal, independent public service specialising in policy on equal opportunity and non-discrimination. Founded on human rights, its mission is to promote equal opportunities and rights for all citizens and to fight against discrimination. This mission is conducted with a view to contribute to collective development and in a spirit of dialogue, collaboration and respect.

Brief history

The Centre was created pursuant to the law of 15 February 1993. This law stipulates that the Centre is a public service, which is wholly independent in the fulfilment of its statutory missions and carries out its duties in a spirit of dialogue and in cooperation with other players. This makes the Centre an institution with a unique and distinctive character, its status differing from that of federal administrations, semi-public institutions or state-owned companies.

When it was founded, the Centre’s sole area of competence was the fight against racism. Today its remit is much more wide-ranging, as its mission is to promote equal opportunities and the fight against all forms of distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on nationality, alleged race, skin colour, ancestry, national or ethnic origin, but also sexual orientation, civil status, birth, wealth, age, religious or philosophical conviction, current or future state of health, disability, political beliefs, physical or genetic characteristics, or social background.1 Gender-related matters fall under the remit of our sister institution, the Institute for the Equality of Women and Men.

During the Interministerial Conference of 12 July 2011 and in application of Article 33, paragraph 2 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the federal government, the regions and the communities also decided to grant the Centre the mandate of ‘independent mechanism to promote, protect and monitor implementation of the Convention’. To this end, a Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Service was set up, with the aim of ensuring promotion, protection and monitoring of implementation of the Convention.

In July 2012 the federal government, the regions and the communities concluded an agreement aimed at turning the Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism, currently a federal institution, into an interfederal institution for the fight against discrimination. The Centre thus sees its anti-discrimination mission extended to take in the regions’ and communities’ areas of competence, in addition to the federal remit.
Any citizen in the country will be able to report to a single body if he/she is the victim of discrimination based on the criteria laid down by the law. Moreover, this agreement also opens up new possibilities for consultation and cooperation between the country’s different authorities in the fight against discrimination, whilst still guaranteeing respect for the autonomy and areas of competence of each of the (federal or federated) entities.

The agreement furthermore stipulates that the Centre’s current missions in the field of the analysis of migratory movements, fundamental rights of foreigners and the trade in human beings will be entrusted to a separate federal institute. Further to this agreement, in December the council of ministers approved two bills: one concerns approval of the cooperation agreement of 23 July 2012 which creates an interfederal centre for equal opportunities and opposition to racism and discrimination (Unia); The other creates a federal centre for the analysis of migratory flows, protection of the fundamental rights of foreigners, and the fight against the trade in human beings (Myria).

Mandate type
  • Combined tribunal-type and promotion-type
Litigation powers
  • Representing in front of courts
  • Bringing proceedings in own name
  • Intervening before the court
  • Formally deciding on complaints (e.g. decision or recommendation addressed to the parties) Not legally binding
Activities
201020112012201320142015201620172018
Activities aimed at supporting vulnerable groups (e.g. through trainings)noyesyesyesyesyesnonono
Activities aimed at supporting duty bearers such as employers and service providers (e.g. through trainings, guidance material, practical support, etc.)noyesyesyesyesyesnonono
Communication activities (e.g. awareness raising campaigns)noyesyesyesyesyesnonono
Recommendations on discrimination issuesnoyesyesyesyesyesnonono
Publications and reportsnoyesyesyesyesyesnonono
Research projects (including surveys)noyesyesyesyesyesnonono
Our institution has a mandate to deal with:
  • UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)
  • Hate crime
  • Hate speech
Other statistics
201020112012201320142015201620172018
Number of inquiries handled per year (all contact even if not resulting in a formal complaint)360841624226371346274554no datano datano data
Number of cases handled per year (case files opened and processed according to your procedures)134312771316140616701596no datano datano data
Number of media appearances per year (major newspapers/magazines/websites/blogs, TV + radio channels) - does not include social mediano datano datano datano datano datano datano datano datano data
Management
  • Single headed equality body (led by director or ombudsman/commissioner)
Management details

The appointment of the directors is a prerogative of the interfederal Board.

Procedure for nomination and appointment of management and board

The Board of Directors of Unia, the Interfederal Centre for Equal Opportunities consists of 21 members appointed by the Parliaments:

- 10 by the federal Chamber of Representatives
- 4 by the Flemish Parliament
- 2 by the Walloon Parliament
- 2 by the Parliament of the French Community (Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles)
- 2 by the Brussels Parliament
- 1 by the Parliament of the German-speaking Community

Four chambers have been created within the interfederal Board (Flemish, Brussels, French-speaking and Federal) which will deal with issues that fall exclusively with their competence.

The appointment of the directors and of any coordinators will be a prerogative of the interfederal Board.

Number of staff dealing with equality issues
201020112012201320142015201620172018
no data72677890no datano datano datano data
Grounds and fields of discrimination covered by the equality body
Grounds / FieldsEmploymentEducationHousingSocial Protection & HealthcareGoods & ServicesOther
Gendernonononono
Gender Identitynonononono
Race and Ethnic OriginyesyesyesyesyesMedia and Internet
AgeyesyesyesyesyesMedia and Internet
DisabilityyesyesyesyesyesMedia and Internet
Sexual OrientationyesyesyesyesyesMedia and Internet
Religion & BeliefyesyesyesyesyesMedia and Internet

Other grounds : Political orientation, social status, health condition, fortune, civil status

Mandate covers:
  • Public sector
  • Private sector
Operating budget in euros
201020112012201320142015201620172018
no data78520008055000760200079770007841500no datano datano data
We are accountable to:
  • National Parliament

Related News

The use of public transportation often poses problems for persons with disabilities. This campaign addresses the problems they experience when travelling by train. It was organised by the Interfederal Centre for Equal Opportunities and the High National Council for Persons with a Disability (Belgium) and took place in Dutch and French during one day in the main train station in Brussels.

 

#EqualInBelgium?

March 18th 2016

The Belgian Equality Body, Unia (Interfederal Centre for Equal Opportunities), has launched a social media debate with numbers, graphics and the hashtags #EgauxEnBelgique and #GelijkinBelgië (in English: #EqualInBelgium) on equality in Belgium.

 

Equinet Calendar 2017

January 13th 2017

Equinet celebrates its 10th birthday this year! As a celebratory gesture, we have put together a 2017 calendar highlighting the work of some of our members across Europe.

 

The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) has published its conclusions on the implementation of its priority recommendations made in 2014 to Germany and Belgium.

 

Belgium: Unia

May 15th 2017

Our colleagues at Unia (Interfederal Centre for Equal Opportunities) are the next members to take over the Equinet Twitter account (@equineteurope) as part of our #MeetNEBs campaign.

 

To mark 10 years since their establishment, Unia took a critical look at the antidiscrimination and antiracism law in Belgium and published a report with 27 recommendations. In brief, Unia concludes that the laws are insufficient for certain victims and do not always have enough impact. The report was written based on Unia’s experience with some 17,000 cases. The current laws have now been in place for 10 years.

 

Unia received no fewer than 5,619 reports of discrimination in 2016. These led to 1,907 case files being opened concerning possible discrimination, hate speech or hate crimes. This represents an increase of 20 percent from 2015.

 

Can we forbid the wearing of the swimsuit covering the body in a public swimming pool? Unia asked the question to the Health and Care Agency in Flanders and the Flemish Genderkamer. Based on their arguments, Unia sees no valid reason to restrict the freedom to choose an integral swim suit. Unia deduces that, in the absence of a legal basis, this prohibition is contrary to the Flemish anti-discrimination decree.

 

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled against Fouad Belkacem, the leader and spokesperson of the radical Muslim organization Sharia4Belgium. His Youtube videos calling for viewers to overpower non-Muslims and fight them, cannot be considered as freedom of expression. This decision is welcomed by Unia: in the past, Unia has filed complaints at the Antwerp Criminal Court against Sharia4Belgium on multiple occasions.