Brussels International Center for Research and Human Rights

Profile: Brussels International Center for Research and Human Rights

1- Name of NGO:

Brussels International Center for Research and Human Rights

2- Brief & Mission:

The Brussels International Center (BIC), under the leadership of Ambassador Marc Otte, appears to be an independent and non-profit think-and-do tank. Notably, Ambassador Otte previously served as the European Union’s Special Representative to the Middle East Peace Process. However, despite its seemingly neutral stance, the BIC has become a valuable tool for the UAE government, which aims to promote its specific agenda in Brussels. While the BIC claims to be dedicated to finding solutions for addressing recurring drivers of insecurity, economic instability, and conflict in the wider Middle East and Africa, a closer examination reveals that the think tank is actually working to advance the interests of Gulf states in Europe.

3- Bias, Agenda & Motivation:

The organization purports to hold expertise on religious extremism and radicalisation, which serves as a Trojan horse for the UAE’s wider anti-Islamist narratives. The BIC utilizes its status as a non-governmental organization (NGO) to provide research and practical policy solutions to policy-makers, governments, and civil society. However, it becomes evident that the underlying motive of the BIC is to advocate for the interests of the UAE authoritarian regime. Despite its proclaimed commitment to addressing regional challenges, the think tank’s activities ultimately serve the agenda of the UAE government, furthering their influence in Europe.

4- Links to Governments/Political Agenda:

The think tank has high-level former EU and European diplomats on their boards. This gives them a veneer of objectivity and credibility. But, in reality, they serve the foreign policy interests of a country in the Middle East whose human rights record and policies are clearly at odds with the stated values and interests of Europe.

5- Sources of Funding:

The NGO lacks transparency about the sources of their funding and allegedly received huge funding from the UAE.

6- Activities:

Think tank’s primary objective is to utilize research in order to provide information to policy-makers and establish alliances that safeguard the interests of the UAE. They aim to make a significant impact by fostering dialogues among leaders on national, regional, and international levels. These dialogues encourage learning, moving beyond superficial talking points and addressing issues that are often overlooked. Through the creation of collaborative spaces that involve leaders, civil society, and the general public in thought-provoking debates, their intention is to advocate for the UAE government’s interests. The BIC actively works to establish connections among leaders, researchers, communities, and civil society. However, it is important to note that their underlying agenda involves lobbying for the UAE’s objectives.

7- NGO Leadership:

Ambassador Marc Otte is a Belgian diplomat and president of a think tank. Ms. Siham Al Jiboury is a Senior Advisor for the Middle East at the BIC. Yousif leads BIC’s Media and Communication Department and was involved in the diplomatic field as a public relations officer at the UAE embassy in Brussels.

8- Controversy:

Think tank promotes Gulf interests and has strategically aligned itself with independent and highly regarded organizations based in Brussels. They extend invitations to these organizations or experts associated with them to participate as speakers in various events, seminars, and conferences held in Brussels. These gatherings attract Members of the European Parliament, EU officials, and diplomats from EU member states. By doing so, these think tanks can exert influence over the narrative in Brussels and shape the policy discourse concerning the Gulf states. This concerted effort helps to create an “echo chamber” effect, ensuring that policy thinking aligns with the interests of the UAE. Essentially, their primary goal is to promote and safeguard the interests of the UAE by strategically influencing policy discussions and narratives within Brussels.

9- Contact Details:

  • Website:https://www.bic-rhr.com
  • Address:Brussels
  • Email: .yousif.kharoubi@bic-rhr.com

10- Classification/Blacklist:

The think tank has been labeled as blacklisted because of its associations with UAE governments.

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