Dries van Agt
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Dries van Agt
Dries van Agt in 1980
|Prime Minister of the Netherlands|
19 December 1977 – 4 November 1982
|Monarch||Juliana (1977–1980) |
|Preceded by||Joop den Uyl|
|Succeeded by||Ruud Lubbers|
|Ambassador of the European |
Union to the United States
1 January 1990 – 1 April 1995
|Preceded by||Roy Denman|
|Succeeded by||Hugo Paemen|
|Ambassador of the European |
Union to Japan
1 January 1987 – 1 January 1990
|Preceded by||Laurens Jan Brinkhorst|
|Succeeded by||Jean-Pierre Leng|
|Queen's Commissioner of |
1 June 1983 – 22 April 1987
|Preceded by||Jan Dirk van der Harten|
|Succeeded by||Frank Houben|
|Minister of Foreign Affairs|
28 May 1982 – 4 November 1982
|Preceded by||Max van der Stoel|
|Succeeded by||Hans van den Broek|
|Parliamentary leader in the |
House of Representatives
10 June 1981 – 24 August 1981
|Preceded by||Ruud Lubbers|
|Succeeded by||Ruud Lubbers|
8 June 1977 – 19 December 1977
|Preceded by||Office established|
|Succeeded by||Willem Aantjes|
|Parliamentary group||Christian Democratic Appeal|
|Leader of the Christian |
10 December 1976 – 25 October 1982
|Preceded by||Office established|
|Succeeded by||Ruud Lubbers|
|Deputy Prime Minister|
11 May 1973 – 8 September 1977
|Prime Minister||Joop den Uyl|
|Preceded by||Roelof Nelissen |
|Succeeded by||Gaius de Gaay Fortman|
|Member of the House of Representatives|
16 September 1982 – 16 June 1983
10 June 1981 – 9 September 1981
8 June 1977 – 19 December 1977
23 January 1973 – 22 April 1973
|Parliamentary group||Christian Democratic Appeal |
Catholic People's Party
|Minister of Justice|
6 July 1971 – 8 September 1977
|Prime Minister||Barend Biesheuvel (1971–1973) |
Joop den Uyl (1973–1977)
|Preceded by||Carel Polak|
|Succeeded by||Gaius de Gaay Fortman|
Andreas Antonius Maria van Agt
2 February 1931
|Political party||Christian Democratic Appeal |
|Catholic People's Party |
Eugenie Krekelberg (m. 1958)
|Children||Eugenie (born 1959) |
Frans (born 1961)
Caroline (born 1963)
|Alma mater||Radboud University Nijmegen |
(Bachelor of Laws, Master of Laws)
|Occupation||Politician · Diplomat · Civil servant · Jurist · Lawyer · Judge · Nonprofit director · Lobbyist · Activist · Author · Professor|
|Website||(in Dutch) driesvanagt.nl|
Andreas Antonius Maria "Dries" van Agt (Dutch: [ˈdris fɑn ˈɑxt] (listen); born 2 February 1931) is a retired Dutch politician and diplomat of the defunct Catholic People's Party (KVP) and later the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) party and jurist who served as Prime Minister of the Netherlands from 19 December 1977 until 4 November 1982.
Van Agt attended the Augustinianum Gymnasium in Eindhoven from June 1943 until June 1949 and applied at the Radboud University Nijmegen in June 1949 majoring in Law and obtaining an Bachelor of Laws degree in July 1951 before graduating with an Master of Laws degree in July 1955. Van Agt worked as a criminal defense lawyer at Van der Putt, Nijst, Van Sandick en Depla in Eindhoven from September 1955 until December 1957. Van Agt worked as a civil servant from December 1957 until January 1968 for the department for Legal Affairs of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries from December 1957 until December 1962 and for the department for Public Law of the Ministry of Justice from December 1962 until January 1968. Van Agt worked as a professor of Criminal law and Criminal procedure at the Radboud University Nijmegen from January 1968 until July 1971 and served as a judge at the district court of Arnhem from April 1970 until May 1971.
After the election of 1971 Van Agt was appointed as Minister of Justice in the Cabinet Biesheuvel I, taking office on 6 July 1971. The Cabinet Biesheuvel I fell just one year later on 19 July 1972 and continued to serve in a demissionary capacity until it was replaced by the caretaker Cabinet Biesheuvel II with Van Agt continuing as Minister of Justice, taking office on 9 August 1972. Van Agt was elected as a Member of the House of Representatives after the election of 1972, taking office on 23 January 1973. Following the cabinet formation of 1972 Van Agt continued as Minister of Justice and was also appointed as Deputy Prime Minister in the Cabinet Den Uyl, taking office on 11 May 1973. The Cabinet Den Uyl fell on 22 March 1977 after four years of tensions in the coalition and continued to serve in a demissionary capacity. On 10 December 1976 the Catholic People's Party together with the Anti-Revolutionary Party (ARP) and the Christian Historical Union (CHU) party choose to merge in a political alliance to form the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA), the Chairman of the Christian Democratic Appeal Piet Steenkamp approached Van Agt to become the first Leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal, Van Agt accepted and became the Leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal and the first Lijsttrekker (top candidate) of the Christian Democratic Appeal for the election of 1977. The Christian Democratic Appeal had 48 seats in the House of House of Representatives previously held by former parties and made a small win, gaining 1 seat and remained the second-largest party and now had 49 seats in the House of Representatives. Van Agt returned as a Member of the House of Representatives and became the Parliamentary leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal in the House of Representatives, taking office on 8 June 1977 but he was still serving in the cabinet and because of dualism customs in the constitutional convention of Dutch politics he couldn't serve a dual mandate he subsequently resigned as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice on 8 September 1977. Following several failed cabinet formation attempts by incumbent Prime Minister and Leader of the Labour Party Joop den Uyl Van Agt struck a deal with the Leader of the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy Hans Wiegel to form a new cabinet and Van Agt was appointed as Formateur. The following cabinet formation of 1977 resulted in a coalition agreement between the Christian Democratic Appeal and the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) which formed the Cabinet Van Agt–Wiegel with Van Agt becoming Prime Minister of the Netherlands and Minister of General Affairs, taking office on 19 December 1977.
For the election of 1981 Van Agt served again as Lijsttrekker. The Christian Democratic Appeal suffered a small loss, losing 1 seat but became the largest party for the first time and now had 48 seats in the House of Representatives and Van Agt was appointed as Formateur. Van Agt subsequently returned as a Member of the House of Representatives and Parliamentary leader in the House of Representatives, taking office on 10 June 1981. The following cabinet formation of 1981 resulted in a coalition agreement between the Christian Democratic Appeal, the Labour Party (PvdA) and Democrats 66 (D66) party which formed the Cabinet Van Agt II with Van Agt remaining Prime Minister of the Netherlands and Minister of General Affairs, taking office on 11 September 1981. The Cabinet Van Agt II fell just seven months into its term on 12 May 1982 after continuing tensions in the coalition and continued to serve in a demissionary capacity until it was replaced by the caretaker Cabinet Van Agt III with Van Agt continuing as Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Minister of General Affairs and also took over as Minister of Foreign Affairs, taking office on 29 May 1982. For the election of 1982 Van Agt served for a third and last time as Lijsttrekker. The Christian Democratic Appeal suffered a small loss, losing 3 seats and fell back as the second largest party and now had 45 seats in the House of Representatives. Van Agt subsequently returned as a Member of the House of Representatives, taking office on 16 September 1982. On 25 October 1982 shortly after the election Van Agt unexpectedly announced he was stepping down as Leader and wouldn't serve another term as Prime Minister. Following the cabinet formation of 1982 Van Agt per his own request asked not to be considered for a cabinet post in the new cabinet, the Cabinet Van Agt III was replaced by the Cabinet Lubbers I on 4 November 1982 and continued to serve in the House of Representatives as a backbencher.
In May 1983 Van Agt was nominated as the next Queen's Commissioner of North Brabant, taking office on 1 June 1983, he resigned as Member of the House of Representatives on 16 June 1983. In December 1986 Van Agt was appointed as Ambassador of the European Union to Japan, taking office on 1 January 1987, he resigned as Queen's Commissioner on 22 April 1987. In December 1989 Van Agt was appointed as Ambassador of the European Union to the United States, he resigned as Ambassador to Japan the same day he was installed as Ambassador to the United States, serving from 1 January 1990 until 1 April 1995.
Van Agt retired after spending 24 years in national politics and became active in the public sector and occupied numerous seats as a nonprofit director on several boards of directors and supervisory boards (InterAction Council, Green Cross International and the Edmund Burke Foundation) and as an advocate, lobbyist and activist for Anti-war movement, Human rights and the Two-state solution for the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Van Agt also served as a distinguished visiting professor of International relations, Peace and conflict studies and Governmental studies at the United Nations University in Shibuya, Japan, the Kwansei Gakuin University in Nishinomiya, Japan, and the Kyoto University and Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan from February 1996 until May 2004.
Van Agt is known for his abilities as a negotiator and debater. During his premiership, his cabinets were responsible for major reforms to the public sector, civil service and public administration and the struggles with the recession in the 1980s. Van Agt continues to comment on political affairs as a statesman. Following the death of Piet de Jong on 27 July 2016, he became the oldest living former Prime Minister.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Politics
- 3 After politics
- 4 Personal
- 5 Decorations
- 6 Honorary degrees
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Andreas Antonius Maria van Agt was born on 2 February 1931 in Geldrop in the Netherlands Province of North Brabant in a Roman Catholic family. After receiving his diploma Gymnasium-A at the Augustinianum he studied at the Catholic University of Nijmegen, where he received his Doctorate in Law in 1955. After graduating, he practiced law in Eindhoven until 1957, after which he worked in the office of legal and business affairs of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries until 1962. From 1962 to 1968, he worked for the Ministry of Justice.
Minister and Deputy Prime Minister
Van Agt entered politics as a member of the Catholic People's Party, which merged with the other two major Christian Democratic parties in 1980 to form the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA). From 1968 to 1971, Van Agt was Professor of Criminal Law at the Catholic University of Nijmegen. From 1971 to 1973, he was Minister of Justice in the government of Barend Biesheuvel. He caused outrage when he tried to pardon the last three Nazi war criminals still in Dutch prisons in 1972. From 1973 to 1977 he was Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice in the government of Joop den Uyl.
Leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal
In 1976, Van Agt was elected the first Leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal, then still a federation of the three religious parties Christian Historical Union, Catholic People's Party and Anti-Revolutionary Party, which first ran in 1977 with a united list (the merger followed in 1980). With Van Agt as top candidate, the Christian Democratic Appeal reversed in 1977 years of decline to return to power.
Prime Minister in the Cabinet Van Agt I
In the parliamentary elections of May 1977 the Labour Party obtained their largest number of seats, so a second Den Uyl coalition looked likely. However, the tension between the Catholic People's Party and the Labour Party in the last reign, combined with the fact that a coalition between Christian Democratic Appeal and the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy was possible, the talks failed after a period of seven months. Eventually Van Agt negotiated a deal with Hans Wiegel, leader of the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy. From 19 December 1977 to 11 September 1981 Van Agt was Prime Minister of the Netherlands and Minister of General Affairs in the Cabinet Van Agt I.
Prime Minister in the Cabinet Van Agt II
In 1981, the Christian Democratic Appeal, People's Party for Freedom and Democracy and Labour Party lost parliamentary seats, so a continuation of a Christian Democratic Appeal-People's Party for Freedom and Democracy coalition was not possible. Van Agt, leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal, was forced to go in coalition with the Labour Party. Also Democrats 66 (which, under Jan Terlouw gained a significant number of seats) participated in the coalition talks, after 3 months of difficult negotiations that resulted in the Cabinet Van Agt II (11 September 1981 – 29 May 1982). In this composition Van Agt worked with Joop den Uyl again as Den Uyl was made Deputy Prime Minister and "super minister" of Social Affairs and Employment. The characterological and political differences led to several divisions, and in May 1982 the government fell.
The personal strife between Van Agt and Den Uyl were so deteriorated that when Den Uyl died from a brain tumor in 1987, Van Agt was not invited to the memorial by the family. Den Uyl's wife Liesbeth argued that Van Agt had prevented the second Den Uyl coalition from forming in 1977.
Prime Minister in the Cabinet Van Agt III
The caretaker government went through as a minority cabinet, with only ministers from the parties Christian Democratic Appeal and Democrats 66, in the Cabinet Van Agt III. For replacing the six Labour Party ministers, five new Christian Democratic Appeal and Democrats 66 ministers were in place, while van Agt in the cabinet, as well as being Prime Minister was also Minister of Foreign Affairs.
New parliamentary elections were organized for September 1982. Although Van Agt, by this point was worn out, he was persuaded again to be Leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal but shortly after the election he withdrew as a candidate for prime minister and was succeeded by Ruud Lubbers.
Dries van Agt served as Ambassador of the European Community to Japan from 1987 to 1990 and to the United States from 1990 to 1995. From 1995 to 1996, he was a Visiting Professor of International Relations at the University of Kyoto.
He is currently Prime Counsellor for the International Forum for Justice and Peace, a foundation under Dutch law, registered at the Chamber of Commerce in Amsterdam. Chaired by retired international businessman Ben Smoes, they are currently focused on justice and peace in regard to the Israel/Palestine conflict
Van Agt lectured in May 2006 in Cairo at the invitation of the Egyptian electronic magazine Arab-West Report about great changes in the cultural climate of north-western Europe in the past decades, becoming more hostile to religion, including Islam. Muslims, he argued, need to understand those changes in order to be able to respond better to European criticism on Islam and the Muslim world.
Van Agt has also spoken against the Council of State in Egypt for continuous delay in granting the Center for Arab-West Understanding (CAWU) the NGO status. He met with prominent figures in Egypt to persuade them to do so. The Egyptian Council of State, after van Agt's visit to Cairo in 2006, ruled on 18 February 2007 that the Center should be recognized as an NGO under Egyptian law, ending its three-year struggle to obtain this status. Egypt is known for its reluctance in granting NGO status in order to discourage political participation. Cornelis Hulsman, a Dutch sociologist, the editor-in-chief of Arab-West Report, and the head of CAWU, stated that van Agt's effort significantly impacted the realization of their goals, which usually requires a lengthy amount of time and scrutiny in its political purposes.
For some years he has taken an outspoken stance regarding the Middle East, resulting in a fierce criticism of the policies undertaken by the government of Israel with regard to the Palestinians. When in office, van Agt was a staunch supporter of Israel, but after he stepped down in 1982 he changed his mind. According to his own words an important turning point was a visit at the late nineties at Bethlehem University on the Israeli-occupied West Bank. He has accused Israel of "state terrorism" and turning the Palestinian Authority territories into "bantustans". In 2012, Van Agt said that Jews should have a state in Germany instead of Israel. In September 2016, in reference to the visit of Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netenyahu to the Netherlands, van Agt argued that the ongoing Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories and the building of settlements there constituted a war crime under the Rome Statute and suggested that Netenyahu should have been sent to the International Criminal Court. According to former speaker of the House of Representatives, Gerdi Verbeet, Van Agts remarks must be seen in the context of declining capabilities 
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Van Agt is known for his use of archaic language and complicated phrasing, as well as for his love for cycling. He married his wife Eugenie Krekelberg in 1958, and they've had three children and seven grandchildren. In 2012, he joined the Advisory Board of the International Museum for Family History.
|Honorary Medal for Initiative and Ingenuity of the Order of the House of Orange||Netherlands||19 September 1974|
|Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Orange-Nassau||Netherlands||9 December 1982|
|Honorary citizen of Geldrop||Netherlands||1988|
|Honorary citizen of Lille||France||1998|
|Honorary citizen of North Brabant||Netherlands||2002|
|Cannabis Culture Award of the Hash, Marihuana & Hemp Museum||Netherlands||12 November 2009|
|Radboud University Nijmegen||Law||Netherlands|
|Ritsumeikan University||Political science||Japan|
|Kwansei Gakuin University||Political science||Japan|
|Hansung University||Law||South Korea|
|University of South Carolina||Political science||United States|
- van in isolation: [vɑn].
- (in Dutch) Dries van Agt (1931), Absolutefacts.nl, 10 December 2008
- For the full text of his lecture, entitled, "Cultures between Clash and Reconciliation: The Role of the Media and Academia," see AWR, 2006, week 53, art. 3
- "Former Dutch PM champions Palestinian cause" Archived 13 December 2009 at the Wayback Machine, Radio Netherlands Worldwide (10 December 2009).
- (in Dutch) "De bekering van Dries van Agt" Archived 19 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine, HP|DE TIJD, 29 September 2006
- (in Dutch) "Ik kan het wel uitschreeuwen", interview oud-premier Dries van Agt, NRC Handelsblad, 22 August 2009
- Cnaan Liphshiz, 'Dutch Jimmy Carter' accuses Israel of terrorism in new book Haaretz (27 June 2008).
- Former Dutch PM: Jews should have had a state in Germany, The Times of Israel (11 November 2012).
- Cockburn, Harry (6 September 2016). "Former Dutch PM calls Benjamin Netanyahu a 'war criminal' who should be tried in The Hague". independent.co.uk. Retrieved 27 September 2016.
- Brouwer, Bart. "Gerdi Verbeet: 'Vermogens Van Agt zijn aan het afnemen'", NPO Radio 1, Hilversum, 4 January 2018. Retrieved on 22 July 2019.
- (in Dutch) Mr. A.A.M. (Dries) van Agt Parlement & Politiek
- (in Dutch) Kabinet-Van Agt I Rijksoverheid
- (in Dutch) Kabinet-Van Agt II Rijksoverheid
- (in Dutch) Kabinet-Van Agt III Rijksoverheid
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