2 women and 3 men sitting on chairs on a podium, 4 of them watching the 5th who is speaking. The group are facing a room full of people. Behind them is a screen with a picture of an outstretched hand and the words Launch of the BDA House of Diplomacy, as well as Welcome to the Brussels Diplomatic Academy, Where Diplomacy and Business Meet

International Audience Warmly Welcomes Launch of the VUB’s Brussels Diplomatic Academy’s House of Diplomacy

11 December 2023

The Brussels Diplomatic Academy (BDA) of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) today launched its House of Diplomacy at a stylish event held at De Warande, near the Royal Palace in Brussels. The launch, held 10 years to the day of the launch of the BDA itself, was attended by members of the Brussels Diplomatic Corps, businesspeople, academics, lawyers, civil servants, and students, the very groups for which the House of Diplomacy was created.

The conference, entitled New Directions at Ten, heard from Gunter Gaublomme, Director and founding creator of the BDA. He spoke proudly about how far the BDA had come since its launch a decade ago, and emphasized the training that it continues to deliver in economic diplomacy and international business. With the launch of the House of Diplomacy, the BDA offers a unique haven in which to gather, to discuss issues of mutual interest, participate in events, socialise and expand knowledge networks, and foster relationships across different communities.

“We are not only meeting a need that the Diplomatic Corps have told us they have, but this curated space is open to grow with its members in a way which can only improve solution building amongst people who approach the very same things from diametrically opposed angles” said Gaublomme.

VUB Vice-Rector Internationalisation, Prof. Dr. Karin Vanderkerken, welcomed attendees and spoke of the important role of diplomats, not only in protecting and promoting peace but also in promoting prosperity.

The panel discussion, with the overarching theme of ‘New Directions: The World in 2024’, heard from Ambassador, Dr. Len Ishmael, Global Affairs Advisor of the BDA who considered several trends, including the growing tension between the West and the Global South as the perception of double standards increases, in relation to migration, war crimes and sanctions, to name but a few. She was followed by Prof. Dr. Tom Vermeiren who works as an independent advisor to profit and non-profit organisations, and who spoke about Sustainability Reporting and the clash between the constant drive by companies to make money that compromises their progress towards non-monetary values.

Burkhard Ober, Associate Partner at Hume Brophy Consultancy, looked at financial diplomacy and the impact of the growing divergence of approaches. He illustrated his point with the example of China’s recent sale of 40% of the United States government debt, and the effects that will have on individuals whose mortgages might go up as a result. Ober’s examples lead neatly to the final panellist, Mark De Zutter, CEO of Law & Lobby Innovation who considered the needs and potential risks of European Technology Diplomacy. His alarming intervention on quantum technology and cybersecurity left no room for doubt about the dangers ahead.

Despite highlighting various risks ahead, the speakers each offered positive outlooks for solutions, and emphasized that the individual human should always be at the heart of things.

As Maxim Vandekerckove, Attaché / Policy Advisor at the Belgian Federal Ministry of Social Security & Coordinator Technology Diplomacy at the BDA, explained in his closing remarks, understanding the needs of people is a complex task – and the essence of diplomacy.

The international audience warmly welcomed his words, and the launch of the House of Diplomacy, and started their networking activities at the reception that rounded off the evening.


Further information: Cailin Mackenzie, 0473 458 069