Ruud Lubbers

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His Excellency
Ruud Lubbers
Ruud Lubbers, 2011 (cropped).jpg
Ruud Lubbers in 2011
Prime Minister of the Netherlands
In office
4 November 1982 – 22 August 1994
Monarch Beatrix
Deputy
Preceded by Dries van Agt
Succeeded by Wim Kok
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
In office
1 January 2001 – 20 February 2005
Preceded by Sadako Ogata
Succeeded by António Guterres
Leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal
In office
6 November 1982 – 29 January 1994
Preceded by Dries van Agt
Succeeded by Elco Brinkman
Parliamentary leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal in the House of Representatives of the Netherlands
In office
14 September 1989 – 7 November 1989
Preceded by Bert de Vries
Succeeded by Elco Brinkman
In office
3 June 1986 – 14 July 1986
Preceded by Bert de Vries
Succeeded by Bert de Vries
In office
24 Augustus 1981 – 4 November 1982
Preceded by Dries van Agt
Succeeded by Bert de Vries
In office
7 November 1978 – 10 June 1981
Preceded by Wim Aantjes
Succeeded by Dries van Agt
Member of the House of Representatives of the Netherlands
In office
14 September 1989 – 7 November 1989
In office
3 June 1986 – 14 July 1986
In office
22 December 1977 – 4 November 1982
In office
8 June 1977 – 8 September 1977
Minister of Economic Affairs of the Netherlands
In office
11 May 1973 – 19 December 1977
Prime Minister Joop den Uyl
Preceded by Harry Langman
Succeeded by Gijs van Aardenne
Personal details
Born Rudolphus Franciscus Marie Lubbers
(1939-05-07) 7 May 1939 (age 76)
Rotterdam, Netherlands
Nationality Dutch
Political party Christian Democratic Appeal
(from 1980)
Other political
affiliations
Catholic People's Party
(1964–1980)
Spouse(s) Ria Lubbers-Hoogeweegen (m. 1962)
Children Paul
Bart
Heleen
Residence Rotterdam, Netherlands
Dalfsen, Netherlands
Alma mater Erasmus University
(Master of Economics)
Occupation Politician
Diplomat
Economist
Businessman
Activist
Professor
Religion Roman Catholicism
Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Netherlands Lion
Signature
Military service
Allegiance The Netherlands
Service/branch Royal Netherlands Air Force
Years of service 1962–1963
Rank Second lieutenant Second lieutenant
Battles/wars Cold War

Rudolphus Franciscus Marie "Ruud" Lubbers (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈryt ˈlʏbərs]; born 7 May 1939) is a retired Dutch politician of the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA). He served as Prime Minister of the Netherlands from 4 November 1982 until 22 August 1994.

Lubbers a businessman and economist by occupation, worked for Hollandia Corporate from 1963 until 1973. After the Dutch general election of 1972 Lubbers was asked by the Catholic People's Party (KVP) to become Minister of Economic Affairs in the Cabinet Den Uyl under Prime Minister Joop den Uyl of the Labour Party. Lubbers accepted and took office as the new Minister of Economic Affairs on 11 May 1973. After the Dutch general election of 1977 he was elected as Member of the House of Representatives serving from 8 June 1977 until 8 September 1977 and again from 22 December 1977 until 4 November 1982. On 7 November 1978 Wim Aantjes the Parliamentary leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal in the House of Representatives resigned and Lubbers was selected to succeed him serving from 7 November 1978 until 10 June 1981 and again from 24 Augustus 1981 until 4 November 1982. After the Dutch general election of 1982 Prime Minister Dries van Agt unexpectedly announced his retirement from national politics and stood down as Leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal on 13 October 1982 Lubbers was selected to succeed him.

A cabinet formation with the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) was formed that resulted in the formation of the Cabinet Lubbers I with Lubbers becoming Prime Minister of the Netherlands taking office on 4 November 1982. With the following Dutch general election of 1986 Lubbers as Lijsttrekker (top candidate) won nine seats and the coalition retained its majority and a cabinet formation resulted in a continuation of the policies with the Cabinet Lubbers II. For the Dutch general election of 1989 Lubbers as again Lijsttrekker won the same amount of seats as the previous election and a coalition formation with the Labour Party (PvdA) was formed that resulted in the Cabinet Lubbers III. On 29 January 1994 Lubbers resigned as Leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal and announced his retirement from national politics. Lubbers remaind Prime Minister of the Netherlands until the Cabinet Kok I was installed on 22 August 1994.

After his premiership, Lubbers semi-retired from active politics and became a visiting professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and the Tilburg University from 1995 until 2001. Lubbers served as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from 1 January 2001 until 20 February 2005 and finally retiring from active politics at the age of sixty-five. Following the end of his active political career, Lubbers occupied numerous seats on supervisory boards on international non-governmental organizations (World Wide Fund for Nature, Earth Charter Initiative, Club of Rome, Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands).

Lubbers is known for his abilities as a team leader, consensus builder and a "policy wonk". During his premiership, his cabinets were responsible for rebuilding the Dutch Economy after the recession in the 1980s, stimulating sustainable development, reforming social security and reducing the deficit. He holds the distinction of being both the longest-tenured and the youngest serving Prime Minister of the Netherlands. Lubbers continues to comment on political affairs as an statesman. On 31 January 1995, he was granted the honorary title of Minister of State.

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

Rudolphus Franciscus Marie Lubbers was born on 7 May 1939 in Rotterdam in the Netherlands province of South Holland. He studied economics at the Erasmus University Rotterdam and was a student of the first Nobel Prize Laureate in economics Jan Tinbergen. As suggested by the title of his 1962 thesis - "The influence of differing productivity trends in various countries on the current account of the balance of payments" - his main interest was in monetary affairs. He originally planned an academic career, but was compelled by family circumstances to join the management of Lubbers' Construction Workshops and Machinery Fabricators Hollandia B.V.

Politics[edit]

Ruud Lubbers as Prime Minister of the Netherlands in 1982.
Ruud Lubbers with then United States Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger in 1983.
Ruud Lubbers as Prime Minister of the Netherlands in 1984, speaking with a union leader.
Ruud Lubbers as Prime Minister of the Netherlands in 1986.
Ruud Lubbers at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in 1993.
Ruud Lubbers in 2010.

From 11 May 1973 to 19 December 1977 Ruud Lubbers was Minister of Economic Affairs in the Den Uyl-government and a member of the Catholic People's Party (KVP). He was an effective, if sometimes somewhat bad-tempered minister. He chose to return to Parliament on the formation of the Van Agt-government in 1977, becoming Senior Deputy Parliamentary Leader of the CDA, the alliance between the KVP and the other two main Christian parties. His career got an unexpected boost when the leader of the parliamentary faction of the CDA, Willem Aantjes, had to resign in 1978 because accusations that he had served in the Germanic-SS during the Second World War. Lubbers succeeded him and suddenly found himself in a powerful political position.

In 1982 after the general election won by Prime Minister Dries van Agt, a similar thing happened when Van Agt suddenly announced he would not be available for a third term. Lubbers took over the post. He was the youngest prime minister in Dutch history; he'd only turned 43 six months earlier. Major aspects of his time in office:

  • Extensive cutbacks in public spending
  • The launch of far-reaching deregulation and privatization programs
  • A massive demonstration in The Hague (1983) against the planned installation in the Netherlands of nuclear-armed US cruise missiles (which was cancelled after all due to arms reduction talks between the US and the Soviet Union)

After leaving office, was put forward as a candidate for the head of NATO, but the US vetoed his appointment. Also, he is on the advisory board of OMFIF where he is regularly involved in meetings regarding the financial and monetary system.

Lubbers was regarded by many during his time in office as an ideological heir to Margaret Thatcher. One of his campaign slogans was: "meer markt, minder overheid" (more market, less government).

Ecological activities[edit]

In the follow-up of the Earth Summit in 1992, Lubbers engaged with the Earth Charter Initiative in cooperation with Mikhail Gorbachev and Maurice Strong. The Earth Charter document was launched in the Peace Palace in The Hague in June 2000. Lubbers is an active member of the international Earth Charter Commission and reaches out, especially to youth in the Netherland, with the message of the Earth Charter for a sustainable and peaceful world.

Academic[edit]

From 1995 to 2000, he taught Globalization Studies at Tilburg University in the Netherlands and at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in the United States. He was also vice-chairman of the Independent World Commission on the Oceans and chair of Globus, the Institute for Globalization and Development based in Tilburg.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees[edit]

At the end of the year 2000, Lubbers was appointed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Kofi Annan, to succeed Mrs. Sadako Ogata as UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Lubbers was appointed 1 January 2001 to head an organization which was concerned with an estimated 21 million refugees and internally displaced in over 120 countries world wide. He led a UN agency that comprised over 5,000 employees who work across the globe. During his tenure, the number of refugees worldwide decreased by almost 22% from 21.8 million in 2001 to close to 17.1 million at the beginning of 2004.

Lubbers also favoured a generous refugee policy for the Netherlands and he was critical of the Foreign Citizens Law (Vreemdelingenwet). Part of his achievement is that since he took on his duties as High Commissioner, the persistent criticism of UNHCR dating from before that time, subsided.[citation needed] He also managed to stabilise UNHCR’s financial situation and to greatly increase the financial means for the sheltering of refugees.[citation needed]

He annually donated some $300,000 to the refugee agency since he assumed his post in 2001, thereby covering his own $167,000 annual salary and travel expenses.

Sexual harassment complaint[edit]

In May 2004, Lubbers was accused by Cynthia Brzak, an American UNHCR employee, of sexual harassment following a meeting in his office that was attended by two other UNHCR staff members. The complaint was reported in the media,[1] prompting Lubbers to inform UNHCR staff about the accusation. On this occasion, he denied any wrongdoing and rejected the allegation against him.[citation needed] On 2 June 2004, the United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) which was tasked with investigating the accusation, sent its report to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.[2][3] In its public annual report to the UN secretary general (presented to the UN General Assembly), the OIOS reported concerning the case that it had “submitted a report to the Secretary-General supporting the allegations and recommended that appropriate actions be taken accordingly.”[4]

Lubbers responded to the OIOS report in a letter setting out to (a) deny acts of sexual harassment or abuse took place; (b) establish that such evidence of the alleged misconduct as is said to exist is insufficient and flawed; and (c) conclude that the report itself would appear to be based on an irregular statutory basis and also flawed by errors of law and reasoning."[5]

Lubbers asked Max van der Stoel, former Dutch high commissioner for minorities, to comment on the confidential report.[6] He concluded that: "the OIOS report is deficient in objectivity and impartiality." He added “that the only two other persons in the room did not provide evidence confirming the version given by the complainant.” Furthermore he accused UN officials of leaking information to the press and recommended that an investigation of the leaks be undertaken.[7]

The Secretary-General reviewed the report and the responses of the High Commissioner and the senior manager to the report, and decided that the complaint could not be substantiated by the evidence and therefore closed the matter."[8] He is also reported to have consulted with Stephen Schwebel, an American judge and former President of the International Court of Justice.[citation needed] The Secretary-General failed to order an investigation of the deliberate leaking by OIOS itself to the media as recommended by Max van der Stoel.

Resignation[edit]

In February 2005, the case was in the news again when the British daily the Independent obtained a copy of the OIOS report and accompanied by an article by Kate Holt published its contents.[9] Inter alia, the report stated that:

the allegation against Lubbers is substantiated in that Lubbers did engage in unwanted physical contact with the complainant, a subordinate female staff member. New allegations that came to OIOS’ attention during the investigation, were also examined and indicate a pattern of sexual harassment by Lubbers, OIOS is also of the view that Lubbers abused his authority as High Commissioner by his intense, pervasive and intimidating attempts to influence the outcome of this Investigation.[3]

Lubbers met with the Secretary-General on 18 February 2005, and resigned as High Commissioner on Sunday, 20 February 2005, stating to the press: "For more than four years I gave all my energy to UNHCR. To be frank, despite all my loyalty, insult has now been added to injury and therefore I resign as High Commissioner." The UN secretary general's office issued a statement the same day which stated, that the High Commissioner's resignation was in the best interests of the UNHCR.[10] In his letter of resignation, Lubbers stated that his resignation constituted no expression of guilt, but that he had become the victim of smearing, adding that he had resigned “in the interest of the organisation”.[11] In October 2005 Kofi Annan reiterated that he had come to the conclusion that "the evidence did not support the accusation" but that because of ongoing media-pressure Mr. Lubber's resignation was in the best interests of the UNHCR.[12] In a letter to UNHCR staff, Kofi Annan wrote, “My decision to accept his resignation should not be interpreted as a finding of guilt”.[13]

During a farewell meeting for Lubbers as High Commissioner for Refugees he received from Acting High Commissioner Wendy Chamberlin the first annual UNHCR Achievement Award for exceptional services to UNHCR and for the world’s refugees.[14]

Netherlands Prime Minister Balkenende in a formal statement called the departure of Lubbers “bitter” since the complaint against him had been dismissed as unsustainable.[citation needed]

Informateur[edit]

Decorations[edit]

International decorations
Ribbon bar Honour Date & Comment
Four Freedoms Award 3 April 1995
National honours
Ribbon bar Honour Date & Comment
NLD Order of the Dutch Lion - Grand Cross BAR.png Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Netherlands Lion 8 October 1994

Awards[edit]

Honorary degrees[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Official
Party political offices
Preceded by
Dries van Agt
Leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal
1982–1994
Succeeded by
Elco Brinkman
Preceded by
Wim Aantjes
Parliamentary leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal
in the House of Representatives of the Netherlands

1978–1981
Succeeded by
Dries van Agt
Preceded by
Dries van Agt
Parliamentary leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal
in the House of Representatives of the Netherlands

1981–1982
Succeeded by
Bert de Vries
Preceded by
Bert de Vries
Parliamentary leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal
in the House of Representatives of the Netherlands

1986
Succeeded by
Bert de Vries
Parliamentary leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal
in the House of Representatives of the Netherlands

1989
Succeeded by
Elco Brinkman
Government offices
Preceded by
Harry Langman
Minister of Economic Affairs of the Netherlands
1973–1977
Succeeded by
Gijs van Aardenne
Preceded by
Dries van Agt
Minister of General Affairs of the Netherlands
1982–1994
Succeeded by
Wim Kok
Political offices
Preceded by
Dries van Agt
Prime Minister of the Netherlands
1982–1994
Succeeded by
Wim Kok
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Sadako Ogata
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
2001–2005
Succeeded by
António Guterres
Non-profit organization positions
Preceded by
Syed Babar Ali
President of the World Wide Fund for Nature
1999–2001
Succeeded by
Sara Morrison
Preceded by
Jan Terlouw
Chairman of the Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands
2005–
Succeeded by
Incumbent