Bert Koenders

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His Excellency
Bert Koenders
Bert Koenders 2015 (1).jpg
Bert Koenders in 2015
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Assumed office
17 October 2014
Prime Minister Mark Rutte
Preceded by Frans Timmermans
Minister for Development Cooperation
In office
22 February 2007 – 23 February 2010
Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende
Preceded by Agnes van Ardenne
Succeeded by Maxime Verhagen
President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly
In office
17 November 2006 – 19 February 2007
Preceded by Pierre Lellouche
Succeeded by José Lello
Personal details
Born Albert Gerard Koenders
(1958-05-28) 28 May 1958 (age 58)
Arnhem, Netherlands
Political party Labour Party
Alma mater Free University Amsterdam
University of Amsterdam
Johns Hopkins University

Albert Gerard "Bert" Koenders (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈɑlbərt ˈɣɪːrɑrt bɛrt ˈkundərs]; born 28 May 1958) is a Dutch politician and diplomat, a member of the Labour Party. He has been the Netherlands' Minister of Foreign Affairs since 17 October 2014.

Koenders studied political science and international relations. He was a member of the House of Representatives (1997–2007), the Minister for Development Cooperation (2007–2010), the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Operation in the Ivory Coast (2011–2013), and the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (2013–2014). Koenders founded the Parliamentary Network on the World Bank/International Monetary Fund and has served as President of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Parliamentary Assembly and leader of its Socialist Group.

Early life and education[edit]

Albert Gerard Koenders was born on 28 May 1958 in Arnhem in Gelderland,[1] where he grew up in a Reformed environment.[2] He was a boy scout.[2] He attended the secondary school Carolus Clusius College in Zwolle, where he completed the pre-university program.[1]

Koenders studied political science at the Free University Amsterdam (sitting his candidates examination in 1978) and political and social sciences (international relations and economics) at the University of Amsterdam (graduating in 1983).[3] He received his Master of Arts degree from Johns Hopkins University, where he studied at the School of Advanced International Studies in Bologna and Washington from 1979 to 1981.[4]

Koenders is not married.[5]

Early career[edit]

Koenders was adjunct professor at Webster University in Leiden from 1987 to 1993.[1] In 2002 he was visiting professor at Johns Hopkins University in Bologna teaching about conflict prevention and management, and post-conflict reconstruction.[4]

From 1983 to 1993, Koenders worked as an aide for the Labour Party in the House of Representatives.[1] He served as an adviser to the United Nations Operation in Mozambique in the early 1990s, his first job outside the Netherlands. Between 1995 and 1997, he worked in the private office of Hans van den Broek, who was then the Dutch European commissioner and had shared responsibility for foreign policy. During that time, one of his tasks was defining the EU’s competences on foreign policy.[6]

Political career[edit]

The Fourth Balkenende cabinet in 2007 with Koenders on the far left

House of Representatives[edit]

Koenders was a member of the House of Representatives from 1997 until 2007. In 1997, he filled the vacant seat after member of parliament Maarten van Traa died in a car accident.[7] He was member of the permanent parliamentary committees on foreign affairs and on defense.[4] From 2002 until 2003 he was a member of the parliamentary hearing committee on the Srebrenica massacre.[1]

From 17 November 2006 to 19 February 2007 he was president of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.

Minister of Development Cooperation[edit]

Koenders was minister without portfolio for Development Cooperation (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) in the Fourth Balkenende cabinet sworn in on 22 February 2007.[8]

He came under political fire as minister in July 2007, after it became known that an event sponsored by the Ministry, Het akkoord van Schokland, was organized without a public procurement process stipulated under European Union law. Instead, the event was organized by an event bureau closely tied to the Labour Party itself. Koenders cited time shortage.[9][10]

Between 2008 and 2009, Koenders was part of a High-Level Taskforce on Innovative International Financing for Health Systems, which had been launched to help strengthen health systems in the 49 poorest countries in the world and was chaired by UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown and World Bank president Robert Zoellick.[11] In 2009, he criticized Pope Benedict XVI for his assertion that distributing condoms is not the solution to AIDS and actually makes the problem worse.[12]

United Nations[edit]

Frans Timmermans, Jean Bosco Kazura, Bert Koenders, and Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert in Mali in 2013

Between 2011 and 2013, he served as the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Operation in the Ivory Coast.

Between 2013 and 2014, he was the Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali appointed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.[13]

Minister of Foreign Affairs[edit]

On 17 October 2014, Koenders succeeded Frans Timmermans as Minister of Foreign Affairs.[14]

At the 2016 United Nations Security Council election, Koenders and his Italian counterpart Paolo Gentiloni agreed on splitting a two-year term on the United Nations Security Council after the United Nations General Assembly was deadlocked on whether to choose Italy or the Netherlands following five rounds of voting for the last remaining 2017/18 seat.[15]



  1. ^ a b c d e f "Drs. A.G. (Bert) Koenders". Parlement & Politiek (in Dutch). Leiden University. Retrieved 2014-10-14. 
  2. ^ a b (Dutch) Theo Koelé, "Bevlogen padvinder die bui ziet hangen", de Volkskrant, 2008. Retrieved on 16 October 2014.
  3. ^ Curriculum vitae Bert Koenders, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
  4. ^ a b c "Bert Koenders". (in Dutch). Labour Party. Archived from the original on 2007-01-07. Retrieved 2007-02-14. 
  5. ^ "Curriculum Vitae: Bert Koenders". Government of the Netherlands. Retrieved 8 February 2016. 
  6. ^ Cynthia Kroet (March 5, 2015), Bert Koenders: The alternative European Voice.
  7. ^ "Bert Koenders". (in Dutch). NOVA (VARA/NPS). 2003-09-23. Retrieved 2007-02-14. 
  8. ^ "Development Cooperation Minister Bert Koenders". Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Archived from the original on 2007-03-10. Retrieved 2007-02-23. 
  9. ^ "Koenders overtrad EU-regel voor aanbestedingen" (in Dutch). NRC Handelsblad. 2007-07-30. 
  10. ^ "Parliament upset with Koenders". Expatica. 2007-07-30. 
  11. ^ More money for health, and more health for the money World Health Organization, 2009.
  12. ^ (French) Article, La Croix.
  13. ^ "Albert Gerard Koenders, Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), on Mali". UN News&Media. 16 October 2013. Retrieved 2013-10-25. 
  14. ^ (Dutch) "Koenders: internationale conflicten prioriteit", de Volkskrant, 2014. Retrieved on 17 October 2014.
  15. ^ Michelle Nichols (June 28, 2016), Italy, Netherlands propose split U.N. Security Council seat for 2017-18 Reuters.
  16. ^ (French) Nomination de M. Bert Koenders au grade de chevalier dans l’Ordre national de la Légion d’Honneur, French Embassy in The Hague. Retrieved on 31 October 2014.
  17. ^ Koenders honoured with Ghanaian decoration, Government of the Netherlands, 2008. Retrieved on 31 October 2014.
  18. ^ (Japanese) 外国人叙勲受章者名簿 平成26年 (Foreign honours recipients 2014), Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Retrieved on 29 October 2014.

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Pierre Lellouche
President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly
Succeeded by
José Lello
Preceded by
Choi Young-jin
Special Representative of the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire
Succeeded by
Aïchatou Mindaoudou
New office Special Representative of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali
Succeeded by
Mongi Hamdi
Political offices
Preceded by
Agnes van Ardenne
Minister for Development Cooperation
Succeeded by
Maxime Verhagen
Preceded by
Frans Timmermans
Minister of Foreign Affairs