• Rik Coolsaet
  • Ann-Sofie Voet
Part of the Studies in Diplomacy and International Relations book series (SID)


The origins of the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) go back to the establishment of a Diplomatic Committee in 1830 — the year in which Belgium emerged as an independent state — by the Belgian revolutionaries in order to gain a voice in the Great Powers’ discussions on the raison d’être of the newly established state. A fully-fledged Ministry was founded on 25 February 1831 and was reformed for the first time in 1841 when three departments came into existence. The first of these dealt with political affairs, the second with trade and the third grouped together several functions — such as finance, disputes, registry and accounting. Many reforms of the internal structure of the Ministry followed, mostly as a result of adaptations needed to conduct economic and commercial diplomacy. At the outbreak of the First World War, the Ministry consisted of four departments and a secretariat-general. The largest department was Foreign Trade and Consulates (with a staff of fifteen), followed by the Political Department (three officers), Chancellery and Disputes and Protocol. The numerous reforms of the interwar period, including changing the name to ‘Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade’ in 1934, reflected the importance attributed to the economic aspects of foreign policy. Consequently, the number of civil servants inside the Political Department, which encompassed the Office of the League of the Nations and the colonial desk dwindled, whilst the Economic Department expanded.


Foreign Policy Foreign Trade Foreign Affair European Policy Constitutional Reform 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rik Coolsaet
  • Ann-Sofie Voet

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