Flanders and South Africa agree to better terms for diplomats


A new agreement allows the partners of diplomats to take paid work in their host country for the first time

More appealing status

The governments of Flanders, Belgium and South Africa have signed an agreement to change the status of the partners of diplomats to allow them to take paid work in the country where they are posted. At present, that is not permitted under internationally recognised diplomatic rules.

The agreement was signed in Pretoria by the Flemish general representative Geraldine Reymenants, who looks after the interests of Flemish diplomatic personnel in the South Africa, Belgian ambassador Hubert Cooreman and South African foreign affairs minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane (seated left to right).

“Agreements like these improve equal opportunities for men and women with a diplomatic career,” a spokesperson for the international department of the Flemish government said in a statement. “The days when the partner of a diplomat – usually a woman – had to put her own ambitions to one side and be satisfied with charity work and being a hostess at events are relegated to the past.”

The signing of such agreements, the spokesperson continued, “is also in line with the Flemish government’s desire to offer diplomats an attractive status and career opportunities.”

In the immediate short term, the agreement affects four diplomatic members of staff from Flanders: two at the economic mission in Johannesburg and two at the general representation in Pretoria.

Photo courtesy Flanders Department of Foreign Affairs