Luxembourg has a WGA when it comes to implementing international norms, decisions and agreements. It is most pronounced in the field of international peace and security in the widest sense possible, of which I will provide four examples. First, an inter-departmental working group chaired by the MFEA’s director-general for political affairs brings together all relevant ministries and oversees the formulation of the national plan of action for implementing the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN’s 2030 Agenda, both at home and through Luxembourg’s development-cooperation efforts abroad. This working group regularly reports to the government on progress made, and it prepares the reports to the UN’s high-level political forum on sustainable development. Second, the Interministerial Committee on Human Rights – again, using a WGA – oversees the reporting to the UN treaty bodies as well as to the Council of Europe in addition to holding frequent consultations with civil society by convening regular meetings, exchanging information and soliciting feedback. Third, a national Inter-ministerial Committee for Development Cooperation was set up by law in 1996 and is under the MFEA’s Directorate for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs. And, fourth, a Political-Military Committee was established by ministerial decree in April 1999.
The drivers/chairs of these joint institutions are the MFEA’s Directorate of Political Affairs, Directorate of Defence, and Directorate of Development Cooperation. Other participants include the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Health, the High Commission for National Protection, the army staff headquarters and the national police.
These institutions meet officially at the levels of ministers and senior officials, and they work on the basis of a formal invitation, formal agenda and formal report. Daily contacts and interaction exist between desks and/or experts. Officials from embassies or permanent representations (e.g. to the EU, NATO and the UN) can be included in the formal meetings via digital conferencing. When preparations are being made for Luxembourg personnel to formally participate in an international peacekeeping operation, the Chamber of Deputies, as the parliament is known, has to be consulted as a matter of law. This is because, by law, the parliament’s Committee on Internal Security and Defence has to vote on whether to give favourable advice for such actions. It should be noted that defence used to be part of a committee called the Committee on Foreign and European Affairs, Defence, Cooperation and Immigration, which comprised all three 3D elements. Although the new coalition government formed in late 2018 decided to split defence and foreign affairs, this should in no way be interpreted as a rethinking of the 3D policy, to which Luxembourg remains firmly committed. The splitting occurred because the parliament wanted to exercise better oversight over defence policy as the defence budget and structures are growing to meet Luxembourg’s so-called ‘2 percent commitment’ to NATO. Furthermore, although the government is not bound by the parliament’s vote, it has always followed the committee’s vote. Moreover, the 1992 law that provides for this consultation procedure is now being updated to make decision-making faster and more reactive so as to be in line with the tempo of international crises.