Diplomatic and consular law essentially governs two types of relations. On the one hand, (i) the relations of diplomats, embassies and consulates with the host State and its citizens and, on the other hand, (ii) the relations of diplomats and consuls among themselves.
We can also note the existence of a certain number of rules which emanate from the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and which form part of diplomatic and consular law. These rules give nationals of certain foreign states the right to receive advice from their consul in the event of their being imprisoned.
Our diplomatic desk also leads our lawyers to assist and represent governments, embassies, consulates, diplomats and other international organizations, both before the courts and in their relations with the Kingdom of Belgium (e.g. Protocol Directorate) or other actors of the economic and social life of our country (e.g. National Social Security Office.
Diplomatic and Consular Missions
We regularly advise diplomatic and consular missions not only on the application of (i) the rules of law relating to their status, privileges and immunities and to those of the members of their staff and their families, as they derive in particular from the Conventions of Vienna on diplomatic and consular relations, but also (ii) on provisions of Belgian law. For example, we can intervene within the framework of:
- Providing advice on Belgian labor legislation;
- Drafting of social documents in accordance with Belgian law (work regulations eligible for approval by the Commission des Bons Offices (CBO) and the work inspection, employment contracts, dismissal letters etc.);
- Obtaining work permits for certain members of the staff of diplomatic missions (especially when the period of validity of special cards expires);
- Rules governing the main contracts binding the diplomatic mission or the consulate with local players (leases, sales contracts, business or insurance contracts, etc.);
- Rules governing immunities from jurisdiction and execution of diplomatic missions, consulates and diplomats;
- Tracking CD license plates and special identity cards to categories of personnel active in diplomatic and consular missions, and to members of their families;
- Monitoring of special identity cards for private servants of foreign diplomatic representatives (being the head of a diplomatic or consular post or the head of a recognized international organization with diplomatic status).
We also assist diplomatic and consular missions in monitoring, if necessary in close collaboration with the Protocol Service (foreign affairs) and the FPS Finance, all legal and tax matters concerning them.
We advise international organizations on all types of legal matters and, in particular, on any issue inherent in the application of a Headquarters Agreements (bilateral and multilateral) establishing the statutes of international organizations wishing to establish themselves in Belgium.
These Headquarters Agreements primarily determine the fiscal privileges and jurisdictional immunities of the organization and of its staff.
We moreover, manage the administrative aspects of the stay of international civil servants and members of their families on Belgian territory in consultation with the Protocol Service and international organizations.
We advise diplomatic missions and international organizations in legal disputes before Belgian courts and, if necessary, represent them vis-à-vis the Protocol Service.
We also manage cases handled at the level of the Commission des Bons Offices (CBO), a body created in 2013 to intervene in disputes relating to labor law and Belgian social security between foreign diplomatic missions, and members of their staff.
This commission helps to resolve individual or collective problems through information, conciliation, or mediation, and provides advice in order to find amicable arrangements.