The Combat Poverty, Insecurity and Social Exclusion Service (The Combat Poverty Service) was established in 1998, by a “Cooperation Agreement between the Federal State, the Communities, and the Regions concerning the continuation of the Poverty Reduction Policy”.

Poverty is described in the Cooperation Agreement as a violation of human rights and the Combat Poverty Service has been given the mandate to evaluate the effectiveness of human rights in situations of poverty.

The Combat Poverty Service evaluates the effectiveness of human rights protection in situations of poverty by using a participative method, based on dialogue. The objective is to bring together the experience of people who live in poverty, the knowledge of social workers, public institutions, civil society and the academic knowledge. The involvement of people in poverty through the organizations that represent them not only encourages their emancipation but also guarantees more efficient policies in the fight against poverty and a more cohesive and democratic society.

Based on these dialogues, the Service prepares a report on insecurity, poverty, and social exclusion and unequal access to rights.

The biennial reports are intended to help political decision-making. The Cooperation Agreement provides the necessary follow-up procedure for this: the reports are sent to the various political and socio-economic authorities, for political debate and to serve as a base for actions and measures.

The most recent report was dedicated to the role of public services in combating poverty, with chapters on justice, childcare, culture, health, work, energy and water.

Furthermore, the Service is mandated to update the qualitative and quantitative indicators of poverty. It also collects available information and promotes research about poverty. It makes this information accessible in ’facts and figures’-sheets on his website.

In collaboration with numerous partners, the Service collects and publishes judicial decisions that relate to various areas of poverty and human rights: housing, protection of family life, healthcare, work and social protection etc. In this way the Service aims to accomplish two objectives: contributing to an evaluation of the effectiveness of rights of people in poverty and contributing to better access to the courts for people in poverty.

International texts devoted to human rights provide for monitoring mechanisms that are essentially non-judicial. The Service offers an overview of non-judicial monitoring mechanisms. It will further supplement this general overview insofar as it includes a poverty aspect.

In addition, the reports that are presented by Belgium in the framework of its international commitments with regard to human rights are also monitored (see for example the contribution to the 2nd cycle of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review).

Head of institution

Henk Van Hootegem, Director



Place Victor Horta 40
1060 Saint Gilles, Belgium

Year of establishment


Accreditation status

NHRI in transition

Year of accreditation


Number of staff


Regional offices



  • Mandate to evaluate the effectiveness of human rights in situations of poverty

Core functions

  • Monitoring
  • Publishing research, recommendations, opinions
  • Reporting to international and regional human rights mechanisms
  • Advising government, parliament and other public bodies
  • Supporting the work of human rights defenders
  • Cooperation with civil society organisations
  • Awareness raising activities