Our History


Brussels as International Associations Hub

Belgium has always been in the forefront of the world associative movement, and its capital is still a market place of ideas and new initiatives. Besides being headquarters to the Institutions of the European Union and NATO, Brussels hosts around 2,800 international associations, almost over twice the numbers of the nearest rivals such as London or Vienna.

International associations cover the range of public policies and represent all groups in society. Despite this diversity, this third sector of civil society shares common concerns. This is why the Maison des Associations Internationales was established here!

The Creation of the MAI

In 1907 the Belgian government was already considering the construction in Brussels of a centre for international associations. After repeated attempts, the project at last came to fruition in the form of a foundation, thanks to the support of the Belgian government which, as a first step, allocated and converted the building in Rue Washington 40 which perfectly suited its purpose.

The MAI is thus a foundation in the public interest established in Brussels by Royal Decree dated 8th December 1982 and inaugurated on 25th October 1983.
From the outset the MAI has been seen as a multi-functional inter-association centre, an international centre for resident, affiliated or visiting associations, a place for networking and information, for meeting and conferences.

According to Article 2 of the Statute, the Centre has the following objectives:

•  To encourage all efforts aimed at the study and development of international organisation and the use of the latter as an instrument of peace between national and peoples,

•  To maintain and develop the traditional assistance which Belgium contributes to internationale organisation by offering those institutions established in the country the means to work more effectively, to derive mutual benefit from administrative experience acquired by each of them, to make use of shared facilities, to become more closely acquainted with the economic and social sphere of Belgium, diplomatic representatives and foreign visitors,

•  To make available to international organisations established in Belgium or wishing to become established there individual or collective premises and shared services,

•  To this end, to set up an international centre in an appropriate building in which suitable equipment would be installed and, as necessary, make itself responsible for the management of this international centre,

• To promote the training for international careers and the setting up of a legal status for personnel working for non-governmental international organisations.