CSW has welcomed the European Union (EU)’s appointment of Frans van Daele as the new Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) outside the EU.
The appointment comes after over a year of vacancy and repeated calls from civil society and the European Parliament for the position to be filled. The appointment was confirmed by the Vice-President of the European Commission Margaritis Schinas in a tweet dated 7 December.
Baron van Daele is a seasoned diplomat who joined the Belgian diplomatic service in 1971. He was appointed to the Permanent Mission of Belgium to the EU from 1973 to 1977, and later became Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the EU from 1997 to 2002. He has also served as the Belgian Ambassador to the United States, and as a Permanent Representative to NATO.
While the EU’s human rights policy is coordinated by the European External Action Service (EEAS), the Special Envoy position falls under the authority of the European Commission’s Vice-President. The EU Special Representative for Human Rights, Eamon Gilmore, will continue to guide the implementation of EU activity on freedom of religion or belief in third countries, in keeping with the Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2020-2024.
CSW’s Europe Liaison Officer Jonathan de Leyser said: ‘CSW congratulates Baron van Daele on his appointment. We look forward to working with the Special Envoy to develop even further the EU’s capacity and proclivity to promote and protect the fundamental human right of freedom of religion or belief, for people of all faiths and beliefs. Given the institutional position of the mandate, we commend to the Special Envoy an exceptionally close and complementary working relationship with the Special Representative for Human Rights and the EEAS, as this will help to ensure that FoRB continues to be advanced as an indivisible element of the EU’s wider human rights policy.’