Foreign relations of the Netherlands
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politics and government of
The foreign policy of the Netherlands is based on four basic commitments: to the Atlantic cooperation, to European integration, to international development and to international law. While historically the Kingdom of the Netherlands was a neutral state, since 1945 it has become a member of NATO, the United Nations, the European Union and many other international organisations. The Dutch economy is very open and relies on international trade. During and after the 17th century—its Golden Age--the Dutch built up a commercial and colonial empire. It was a leading shipping and naval power and was often at war with England, its main rival. Its main colonial holding was Indonesia, which fought for and achieved independence after 1945. The historical ties inherited from its colonial past still influence the foreign relations of the Netherlands. Foreign trade policy is handled by the European Union. The Dutch have been active in international peacekeeping roles.
- 1 History
- 2 Policy
- 3 Atlantic cooperation
- 4 European integration
- 5 Involvement in Developing Countries
- 6 Export assistance grants
- 7 International law
- 8 International organizations
- 9 International issues
- 10 Former colonies
- 11 Bilateral relations
- 12 See also
- 13 Notes
- 14 Further reading
In the Dutch Golden Age, which had its zenith around 1667, there was a flowering of trade, industry, the arts and the sciences. A rich worldwide Dutch empire developed and the Dutch East India Company became one of the earliest and most important of national mercantile companies based on entrepreneurship and trade.
During the 18th century the power and wealth of the Netherlands declined. A series of wars with the more powerful British and French neighbors weakened it. Britain seized the North American colony of New Amsterdam, turning it into New York. There was growing unrest and conflict between the Orangists and the Patriots. The French Revolution spilled over after 1789, and a pro-French Batavian Republic was established in 1795–1806. Napoleon made it a satellite state, the Kingdom of Holland (1806–1810), and later simply a French imperial province.
In 1815–1940 it was neutral and played a minor role in world diplomacy, apart from a failed effort to control Belgium before giving up in 1839. It was invaded and cruelly treated by Germany in 1940–45, with starvation and killing the Jews the main Nazi policies.
The Dutch Government conducted a review of foreign policy main themes, organization, and funding in 1995. The document "The Foreign Policy of the Netherlands: A Review" outlined the new direction of Dutch foreign policy. The Netherlands prioritizes enhancing European integration, maintaining relations with neighboring states, ensuring European security and stability (mainly through the mechanism of NATO and emphasizing the important role the United States plays in the security of Europe), and participating in conflict management and peacekeeping missions. The foreign policy review also resulted in the reorganization of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Through the creation of regional departments, the Ministry coordinates tasks previously divided among the international cooperation, foreign affairs, and economic affairs sections.
Dutch security policy is based primarily on membership in NATO, which the Netherlands co-founded in 1949. Because of Dutch participation in NATO nuclear weapons are stationed in the Netherlands, see Volkel Air Base.
The Dutch also pursue defense cooperation within Europe, both multilaterally – in the context of the Western European Union and the European Security and Defence Policy of the EU – and bilaterally, as in the German-Netherlands Corps. In recent years, the Dutch have become significant contributors to UN peacekeeping efforts around the world as well as to the Stabililzation Force in Bosnia and Herzegovina (SFOR) in Bosnia.
The Dutch have been strong advocates of European integration, and most aspects of their foreign, economic, and trade policies are coordinated through the European Union (EU). The Dutch postwar customs union with Belgium and Luxembourg (the Benelux group) paved the way for the formation of the European Community (precursor to the EU), of which the Netherlands was a founding member. Likewise, the Benelux abolition of internal border controls was a model for the wider Schengen Accord, which today has 29 European signatories (including the Netherlands) pledged to common visa policies and free movement of people across common borders.
The Dutch stood at the cradle of the 1992 Maastricht Treaty and have been the architects of the Treaty of Amsterdam concluded in 1998. The Dutch have thus played an important role in European political and monetary integration; indeed, until the year 2003, Dutchman Wim Duisenberg headed the European Central Bank. In addition, Dutch financial minister Gerrit Zalm was the main critic of the violation of the Stability and Growth Pact by France and Germany in 2004 and 2005.
Involvement in Developing Countries
The Netherlands is among the world's leading aid donors, giving almost $8 billion, about 0.8% of its gross national income (GNI) in official development assistance (ODA). It is one of five countries worldwide that meets the longstanding UN ODA target of 0.7% ODA/GNI. The country consistently contributes large amounts of aid through multilateral channels, especially the United Nations Development Programme, the international financial institutions, and EU programs. A large portion of Dutch aid funds also are channeled through private ("co-financing") organizations that have almost total autonomy in choice of projects.
The Netherlands is a member of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which recently initiated economic reforms in central Europe. The Dutch strongly support the Middle East peace process and in 1998 earmarked $29 million in contributions to international donor-coordinated activities for the occupied territories and also for projects in which they worked directly with Palestinian authorities. These projects included improving environmental conditions and support for multilateral programs in cooperation with local non-governmental organizations. In 1998, the Dutch provided significant amounts of aid to the former Yugoslavia and Africa. The Dutch consistently provide significant amounts of humanitarian relief aid to the victims of the worst natural disasters, such as the Hurricane Mitch in Central America in 1998, 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami in South and Southeast Asia, the Hurricane Katrina in the United States in 2005, 2010 Haiti earthquake, and more recent catastrophes in Pakistan and Burma including the Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in 2013, and 2015 Nepal earthquake.
Export assistance grants
"Developing countries aspiring to purchase foreign goods and services to invest in, inter alia, port facilities, roads, public transport, health care, or drinking water facilities may be eligible for a special Dutch grant facility. The grant facility, known as ORET (a Dutch acronym for Ontwikkelingsrelevante Exporttransacties, or Development-Related Export) serves to award grants to governments of developing countries for making payments to foreign suppliers."
A centuries-old tradition of legal scholarship has made the Netherlands the home of the International Court of Justice; the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal; the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia; the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda; and the International Criminal Court (ICC). In addition it hosts the European police organization, Europol; and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
As a relatively small country, the Netherlands generally pursues its foreign policy interests within the framework of multilateral organizations. The Netherlands is an active and responsible participant in the United Nations system as well as other multilateral organizations such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), World Trade Organization (WTO), and International Monetary Fund.
The Netherlands is one of the founding members of what today is the European Union. It was one of the first countries to start European integration, through the Benelux in 1944 and the European Coal and Steel Community in 1952. Being a small country with a history of neutrality it was the host country for the important Maastricht Treaty and Amsterdam Treaty and is the seat of the International Court of Justice.
The country is one of the major producers of illicit amphetamines and other synthetic drugs. It also functions as an important gateway for cocaine, heroin, and hashish entering Europe. A large portion of the world's XTC consumption is supplied by illegal laboratories from the Netherlands.
The Dutch also work with the U.S. and other countries on international programs against drug trafficking and organized crime. The Dutch-U.S. cooperation focuses on joint anti-drug operations in the Caribbean, including an agreement establishing Forward Operating Locations on the Dutch Kingdom islands of Curaçao and Aruba. The Netherlands is a signatory to international counter-narcotics agreements, a member of the United Nations International Drug Control Program, the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs, and is a contributor to international counter-narcotics.
From June 26 until December 22, 2006, two children, Ammar (12–13) and Sara (10–11), lived in the Dutch embassy in Damascus because of a child custody dispute between the Dutch mother, supported by Dutch law and the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, and the Syrian father, supported by Syrian law (Syria is no participant of this convention). The children had been living in Syria since 2004, after an alleged international child abduction by the father from the Netherlands to Syria, during a family contact in which he supposedly would visit Paris with them. The children fled to the embassy because they would like to live with their mother in the Netherlands. Minister of Foreign Affairs Ben Bot travelled to Damascus, negotiated and on December 22 the children finally could return to the Netherlands.
The father claims that the Dutch government has promised not to prosecute him for the abduction. However, a Dutch prosecutor claims that he is free to prosecute the father and may well do that, and that the Dutch have only retracted the international request to arrest him outside the Netherlands.
Mark Rutte's government provided materials to the Levant Front rebel group in Syria. In September 2018, the Dutch public prosecution department declared the Levant Front to be a "criminal organisation of terrorist intent", describing it as a "salafist and jihadistic" group that "strives for the setting up of the caliphate".
In July 2019, the UN ambassadors from 22 nations, including Netherlands, signed a joint letter to the UNHRC condemning China’s mistreatment of the Uyghurs as well as its mistreatment of other minority groups, urging the Chinese government to close the Xinjiang re-education camps.
The Caribbean islands of Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten, Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba are dependencies of the Netherlands. The latter three are part of the Netherlands proper and are collectively known as the Caribbean Netherlands. Suriname and Indonesia became independent of the Netherlands in the period of decolonization: Suriname in 1975 and Indonesia in 1945 (it was not until August 16, 2005 that the Dutch government recognized 1945 and not 1949 as the latter's year of independence).
|Country||Formal Relations Began||Notes|
|Algeria||See Foreign relations of Algeria
|Angola||See Foreign relations of Angola|
|Benin||See Foreign relations of Benin|
|Burundi||See Foreign relations of Burundi
|Egypt||See Foreign relations of Egypt
|Ethiopia||See Foreign relations of Ethiopia|
|Ghana||See Foreign relations of Ghana
|Ivory Coast||See Foreign relations of Ivory Coast
|Kenya||See Kenya–Netherlands relations
|Morocco||See Morocco–Netherlands relations|
|Mozambique||See Foreign relations of Mozambique
|Nigeria||See Foreign relations of Nigeria
|Rwanda||See Foreign relations of Rwanda
|Senegal||See Foreign relations of Senegal
|South Africa||See Netherlands–South Africa relations|
|Sudan||See Foreign relations of Sudan
|Tanzania||See Foreign relations of Tanzania
|Tunisia||See Foreign relations of Tunisia
|Uganda||See Foreign relations of Uganda
|Zimbabwe||See Foreign relations of Zimbabwe
|Country||Formal Relations Began||Notes|
|Argentina||See Foreign relations of Argentina|
Both countries established diplomatic relations on April 13, 1987.
|Bolivia||See Foreign relations of Bolivia
|Brazil||See Foreign relations of Brazil|
|Canada||1939-01||See Canada–Netherlands relations
Canada has an embassy in The Hague and the Netherlands has one in Ottawa, and three Consulates-General in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. Canada and the Netherlands have worked closely together on many foreign issues and enjoy an especially close relationship. To fostering business and commercial relations between the Netherlands and Canada the Dutch business community set up the Netherlands-Canadian Chamber of Commerce. They are both members of the United Nations (and its Specialized Agencies) the World Trade Organization, Interpol, they are both founding members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe. Canada and the Netherlands also work together on such issues as the prohibition and elimination of anti-personnel mines, the control of the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, eradicating the worst forms of child labour, the provision of rapid reaction peacekeeping forces to the United Nations (SHIRBRIG) and regional security issues such as Bosnia (SFOR) and Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE).
|Chile||See Foreign relations of Chile
|Colombia||1829||See Foreign relations of Colombia
Relations between Colombia and the Netherlands were established in 1829.
|Cuba||See Foreign relations of Cuba
Both countries established diplomatic relations on 15 May 1970. Guyana was made up of three former Dutch colonies: (Berbice, Demerara and Essequibo (colony)) which were brought together by the British and renamed collectively British Guiana.
|Mexico||1827||See Mexico–Netherlands relations
On September 27, 1993 the Netherlands Ministry of Finance announced The Netherlands – Mexico Tax Treaty and Protocol. The regulations detail the formalities residents of the Netherlands must observe "in order to be exempt from, or obtain a refund of, the Mexican withholding taxes on dividends, interest and royalties." In 2008 Mexico and the Netherlands modified their existing tax treaty, initially signed in 1993 to strength cooperation to curb tax evasion.
|Peru||See Foreign relations of Peru
|Suriname||1975-25-11||See Netherlands–Suriname relations|
|United States||1781||See Netherlands–United States relations
The bilateral relations between the two nations are based on historical and cultural ties as well as a common dedication to individual freedom and human rights. The Netherlands shares with the United States a liberal economic outlook and is committed to free trade. The Netherlands is the third-largest direct foreign investor in the United States, and Dutch holding companies employ more than 650,000 Americans. The United States is the third-largest direct foreign investor in the Netherlands.
The United States and the Netherlands often have similar positions on issues and work together both bilaterally and multilaterally in such institutions as the United Nations and NATO. The Dutch have worked with the United States at the World Trade Organization, in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, as well as within the European Union to advance the shared U.S. goal of a more open and market-led global economy.
The United States and the Netherlands joined NATO as charter members in 1949. The Dutch were allies with the United States in the Korean War and the first Gulf War and have been active in global peacekeeping efforts in the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq. Netherlands also support and participate in NATO and EU training efforts in Iraq. They are active participants in the International Security Assistance Force and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
|Uruguay||See Netherlands–Uruguay relations|
|Country||Formal Relations Began||Notes|
|Bangladesh||1971-01-04||See Bangladesh–Netherlands relations
|Bhutan||See Foreign relations of Bhutan
|Brunei||See Foreign relations of Brunei
|Cambodia||See Foreign relations of Cambodia
|China||See China–Netherlands relations|
|India||1947-15-8||See India–Netherlands relations|
|Indonesia||See Indonesia–Netherlands relations|
|Iran||See Iran–Netherlands relations
|Israel||1949||See Israel–Netherlands relations|
|Japan||1609||See Japan–Netherlands relations
Relations between Japan and the Netherlands date back to 1609, when the first formal trade relations were established. The relations between Japan and the Netherlands after 1945 have been a triangular relationship. The invasion and occupation of the Netherlands East Indies during World War II, brought about the destruction of the colonial state in Indonesia, as the Japanese removed as much of the Dutch government as they could, weakening the post war grip the Netherlands had over the territory. Under pressure from the United States, the Netherlands recognised Indonesian sovereignty in 1949 (see United States of Indonesia).
|Jordan||See Foreign relations of Jordan
|Kazakhstan||1992||See Kazakhstan–Netherlands relations
The Netherlands is Kazakhstan's largest foreign investor and the second largest European Union partner in terms of foreign trade turnover with Kazakhstan.
|Kuwait||See Foreign relations of Kuwait
|Laos||See Foreign relations of Laos
|Malaysia||1957-31-08||See Malaysia–Netherlands relations
The Dutch involvement in the Malay Peninsula used to be much more extensive than it is now. The Dutch established relations with the Sultanate of Johor in the early 17th century, and in 1641 they captured the Portuguese colony of Malacca (on the south-eastern coast of today's Peninsular Malaysia). With a long interruption during the Napoleonic Wars, the Dutch Malacca era lasted until 1824. In the 20th century, the Netherlands established diplomatic relations with Malaysia soon after the Asian state became independent. The erudite Dutch Sinologist and author Robert van Gulik (who was raised in the former Dutch East Indies himself) served as the ambassador of the Netherlands in Kuala Lumpur in the early 1960s. During his diplomatic service there he became closely acquainted with Malaysia's gibbons (he kept a few in his ambassadorial residence) and became sufficiently interested in this ape species to start the study of its role in ancient Chinese culture, the results of which he later published in his last book (Gibbon in China).
|Mongolia||1972-06-03||See Foreign relations of Mongolia
|Myanmar||See Foreign relations of Myanmar
|Nepal||See Foreign relations of Nepal
|Oman||See Foreign relations of Oman
|Pakistan||1947-15-8||See Netherlands–Pakistan relations|
|Philippines||See Netherlands–Philippines relations
|Qatar||See Foreign relations of Qatar
|Saudi Arabia||See Foreign relations of Saudi Arabia
|Singapore||1965-09-08||See Netherlands–Singapore relations
|South Korea||1961-01-04||See Netherlands–South Korea relations
The establishment of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Korea and the Kingdom of the Netherlands began on April 1, 1961.
|Sri Lanka||1948||See Foreign relations of Sri Lanka
|Thailand||See Foreign relations of Thailand
|United Arab Emirates||See Foreign relations of the United Arab Emirates|
|Vietnam||See Foreign relations of Vietnam|
|Country||Formal Relations Began||Notes|
|Albania||1970||See Albania–Netherlands relations
|Armenia||1992-01-30||See Foreign relations of Armenia
|Austria||See Foreign relations of Austria
|Azerbaijan||See Azerbaijan–Netherlands relations
|Belarus||1994||See Belarus–Netherlands relations
|Belgium||See Belgium–Netherlands relations
Relations were established after the independence of Belgium. Both nations are allies and have cultural similarities.
|Bosnia & Herzegovina||
|Bulgaria||See Foreign relations of Bulgaria
|Croatia||See Foreign relations of Croatia
|Cyprus||See Foreign relations of Cyprus
|Czech Republic||See Foreign relations of the Czech Republic
|Denmark||1645||See Denmark – Netherlands relations
|Finland||See Foreign relations of Finland
|France||See France–Netherlands relations
|Germany||1871||See Germany–Netherlands relations|
|Greece||See Greece–Netherlands relations|
|Hungary||See Foreign relations of Hungary
|Ireland||See Foreign relations of Ireland|
|Italy||See Foreign relations of Italy|
|Malta||See Foreign relations of Malta|
|Norway||See Foreign relations of Norway|
|Poland||See Foreign relations of Poland|
|Portugal||See Foreign relations of Portugal|
|Romania||1880-02-13||See Netherlands–Romania relations
|Russia||1991||See Foreign relations of Russia
Both countries were establishment of diplomatic relations in 1991 after the fall of the Soviet Union. Peter the Great studied in Holland. During the Cold War, all the Dutch consecutive governments perceived the Warsaw pact including the Soviet Union and Russia as a threat to its safety.
|Slovakia||1993-01-01||See Netherlands–Slovakia relations
|Slovenia||1991-06-25||See Netherlands–Slovenia relations|
|Spain||See Foreign relations of Spain
|Sweden||See Foreign relations of Sweden
|Switzerland||See Foreign relations of Switzerland
|Turkey||1612||See Netherlands–Turkey relations
|Ukraine||1992||See Foreign relations of Ukraine|
|United Kingdom||See Netherlands–United Kingdom relations|
|Country||Formal Relations Began||Notes|
|Australia||See Australia–Netherlands relations|
|New Zealand||See Netherlands–New Zealand relations|
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