The CD&V is assuming that the Foreign Affairs Minister, Didier Reynders (MR), didn’t know there would be a vote on Saudi Arabia’s admission to the United Nation’s Commission for Women’s rights, which was held in New York. But if Mr Reynders was “politically aware, there is a problem”, MP Els Van Hoof (CD&V) said on Sunday.
Saudi Arabia got a yes from 47 of the 54 states in the United Nations Economics and Social Council (Ecosoc), including Belgium. This is despite the fact that women cannot drive, open a private bank account, go abroad, or marry without permission in the conservative kingdom.
This vote has provoked strong reactions from both the opposition and the government.
Prime Minister Charles Michel said he was disappointed at the Chamber’s vote in favour of Saudi Arabia on Thursday. “If it had to be done again, the government would have called for a vote against Saudi Arabia, there’s no doubt about that. I have left instructions that this type of thing should be taken to the highest political level in the future”, he said.
The Prime Minister said bad circumstances led to the vote, which would not normally have been required. The Foreign Affairs Ministers were told just “a few hours” before the deadline for their response, Mr Michel said. The vote was registered through a diplomat.
But on Friday, the Ecologists claimed Mr Reynders’ cabinet was told there would be a vote on whether Saudi Arabia should join the United Nations Commission for Women’s rights nine hours before they responded, based on internal communications.
The Minister will speak to the Chamber’s Commission for external relations about it on Tuesday.
“It is important to us that Mr Reynders didn’t know. That’s very clear. If they lied and said things that aren’t true, I don’t think it can continue”, MP Van Hoof said on Sunday.