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Home >> Members >> Equinet Members >> Belgium >> Unia (Interfederal Centre for Equal Opportunities)

Unia (Interfederal Centre for Equal Opportunities)

BELGIUM: Unia (Interfederal Centre for Equal Opportunities)

Main Informations


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 aimed at supporting vulnerable groups (e.g. through trainings)noyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyes
Activities aimed at supporting duty bearers such as employers and service providers (e.g. through trainings, guidance material, practical support, etc.)noyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyes
Communication activities (e.g. awareness raising campaigns)noyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyes
Recommendations on discrimination issuesnoyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyes
Publications and reportsnoyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyes
Research projects (including surveys)noyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyes
Our institution has a mandate to deal with:
  • UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)
  • Hate crime
  • Hate speech
Other statistics
Number of inquiries handled per year (all contact even if not resulting in a formal complaint)36084162422637134627455456196602no datano data
Number of cases handled per year (case files opened and processed according to your procedures)13431277131614061670159619072017no 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 datano data
  • 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
no data72677890889696no datano data
Grounds and fields of discrimination covered by the equality body
Grounds / FieldsEmploymentEducationHousingSocial Protection & HealthcareGoods & ServicesOther
Gender Identitynonononono
Race and Ethnic Originyesyesyesyesyes
Sexual Orientationyesyesyesyesyes
Religion & Beliefyesyesyesyesyes

Other grounds : Political beliefs, trade union beliefs, social status, health condition, wealth, civil status, physical characteristics, birth, social background

Mandate covers:
  • Public sector
  • Private sector
Operating budget in euros
no data7852000805500076020007977000784150079150008109777no datano data
Operating budget in euros for the parts of the organisation dealing with equality issues (all types of functions).
no data5808000661700062510007679000784150079150008109777no 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.



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 a full-body swimsuit 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.


Unia has won the Agoria e-Gov Award in the category Innovation with the Handicap module of the eDiv online training course. This course makes companies aware of the anti-discrimination legislation and answers questions about diversity with practical examples. The ceremony took place on 7 December 2017.


In Belgium, your origin still largely determines your success in the labour market. That recurring observation is unacceptable for Unia. The third Socioeconomic Monitor has just been published. This report is the result of a two-year cooperation between the Federal Public Service and Unia. The report includes an inventory of the population aged between 18 and 64 and combines data on their origins and migration background with information about their position on the labour market in the period 2008-2014.


Unia commissioned a study on equal opportunities in schools in the three communities across Belgium. The Education Diversity Barometer is the latest in a series of three studies, after the Employment (2012) and Housing (2014) Barometers.


Finding inspiration and gathering ideas on inclusive education: that was the goal of the international conference on 8 and 9 October. For this two-day conference, Unia joined forces with the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights and received support from the OHCHR Regional Office in Brussels.


Unia believes in a society where everyone has a place. To realize its vision, Unia has identified its 61 priorities for the federal, regional, community and European elections of May 2019. These recommendations should inspire candidates, academics and civil society.


Equinet Calendar 2019

January 3rd 2019

Equality bodies assist victims of discrimination in a wide variety of ways. This calendar highlights some of the work that our members do to promote equal treatment in their respective countries.


The Human Rights and Equality Institution of Turkey organised an international conference on combating discrimination in working life on 17 April in Ankara. Patrick Charlier, Equinet Board member and Co-Director of the Belgian equality body Unia, presented the work on this topic at national and European level.


Back to European Directory of Equality Bodies

General Contact Information

Full name in English:


Full name in the national language(s):


Postal address:
Rue Royale 138, 1000 Brussels

General email address:

0800 12 800

Telephone number:

02 212 30 00



Other social media channels:

Facebook page in French and Dutch

Languages in which your institution can be contacted:

English, Dutch, French, German

Person of contact for media enquiries:

Name of the Head of the equality body:

Patrick Charlier and Els Keytsman

Engagement with Equinet

Contact Person


Lode Nolf