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BEMULTILAT: Archives and history of Belgian foreign policy (2023-)

Negotiating Table of the Locarno Treaties. Ticino Italy France Switzerland Germany United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland Belgium Locarno, 1925. [Place of Publication Not Identified: Publisher Not Identified, -10-05] Photograph. https://www.loc.gov/item/2021670573/.

This project lies at the crossroads of fundamental research into the history of Belgium's international relations and the contribution made to opening up to research the archival holdings that are essential to the writing of this history. While Belgium's exceptionally rich diplomatic archives have long remained under-exploited and poorly inventoried (until a significant opening up ten years ago, thanks to archivists with recognized expertise), the prospect of a future transfer of the archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the State Archives offers an excellent opportunity to combine archival work and historiographical renewal.

In this way, the research also responds to the need for transparency and democratic control of public policy. In terms of fundamental research, BEMULTILAT's main objective is to reassess the history of Belgian foreign policy through the prism of multilateralism, both as a political concept applicable over a long period (1830-1960) and as a grid for analyzing Belgium's international commitments. Extensive archival work will be carried out to re-examine the major phases in the history of Belgium's international relations, and even to question and reformulate their articulation. This research will be disseminated through publications, participation in the training of graduate students at ULiège, involvement in CegeSoma activities, and active participation in an international network of researchers in the history of multilateralism.

In terms of opening up archives to research, the project aims to prepare and support the physical transfer of Belgian diplomatic archives from the Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs

(FPS) to the State Archives, in accordance with the 2017 agreement. This mission involves a transfer of experience and perfect coordination with the archivists currently in charge of these funds. It also involves designing the architecture for an updated, coherent and hierarchical general description of the archives held by the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This major project will be preceded by several stages, such as the drafting of a "Milestone" useful for accessing these archives, as well as a more detailed "Guide", which will further clarify this preliminary work. Finally, we need to identify and inventory those files in the archives held by the State Archives that will enable us to write the history of Belgium and multilateralism (1830-1960), thus ensuring a good link between fundamental research and archival work.

Vincent Genin is in charge of implementing the BEMULTILAT project (FED-tWIN program), in the dual institutional environment of CegeSoma/State Archives, under Michael Auwers, and Liège University, under Catherine Lanneau.