Foreign relations of the Netherlands

Foreign relations of the Netherlands

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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.[citation needed] While historically the Netherlands was a neutral state, since the second World War the Netherlands became a member of a large number of international organisations. The Dutch economy is very open and relies on international trade. One of the more controversial international issues surrounding the Netherlands is its liberal policy towards soft drugs and position of the Netherlands as one of the major exporters of hard drugs.[citation needed] During and after its golden age, the Dutch built up a commercial and colonial empire, which fell apart quickly after the Second World War; the historical ties inherited from its colonial past still influence the foreign relations of the Netherlands.



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.

Atlantic cooperation

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 believed to be stationed in the Netherlands, see possible nuclear weapons in the Netherlands.

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.

European integration

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 Netherlands' 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.

Third World development

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 UN 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 relief aid to victims of natural disasters, such as Hurricane Mitch in Central America, the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia, and more recent catastrophes in Pakistan and Burma.

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."[1]

International law

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.

International organisations

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.

International issues

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.[citation needed]

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 UN 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.[2]

Former colonies

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 16 August 2005 that the Dutch government recognized 1945 - and not 1949 - as the country's year of independence).


Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Armenia 1992-01-30
 Belarus 1994 See Belarus–Netherlands relations
 Belgium See Belgium–Netherlands relations

Relations were established after the independence of both nations. Both nations are great allies. Both nations have cultural similarities, both governments cooperate, and Belgium has an embassy in The Hague. While Netherlands has an Embassy in Brussels. Both nations are members of the European Union and NATO.

 Czech Republic See Foreign relations of the Czech Republic
 Denmark 1645[9] See Denmark – Netherlands relations
 Estonia See Foreign relations of Estonia
 Finland See Foreign relations of Finland
 Ireland See Foreign relations of the Republic of Ireland
 Italy See Foreign relations of Italy
 Malta See Foreign relations of Malta
 Romania 1880-02-13 See Netherlands–Romania relations
 Russia See Netherlands–Russia relations

Russia has an embassy in The Hague, and the Netherlands has an embassy in Moscow, a consulate in Saint Petersburg, and an honorary consulate in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. 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.

 Serbia 1899-04-26
 Slovakia 1993-01-01 See Netherlands–Slovakia relations
 Slovenia 1991-06-25 See Netherlands–Slovenia relations
 Turkey 1612 See Netherlands–Turkey relations
 Ukraine 1992 See Foreign relations of Ukraine
 United Kingdom See Netherlands – United Kingdom 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.[28] 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).


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."[29] In 2008 Mexico and the Netherlands modified their existing tax treaty, initially signed in 1993 to strength cooperation to curb tax evasion.[30][31]

United States

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,[32] and Dutch holding companies employ more than 650,000 Americans.[33] 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.

Rest of the world


In 1947, the Netherlands voted in favor of the United Nations Resolution 181. Both countries established diplomatic relation in 1949.[34] Israel has an embassy in The Hague.[35] The Netherlands has an embassy in Tel Aviv, an information office in Jerusalem and two honorary consulates (in Eilat and Haifa).[36] There are 32,800 Jews living in the Netherlands (see also History of the Jews in the Netherlands).


Relations between Japan and the Netherlands date back to 1609, when the first formal trade relations were established.[37][38] 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).


Graves of Dutch dignitaries in Melaka's ruined St Paul's Church

Netherlands has an embassy in Kuala Lumpur, and Malaysia has an embassy in The Hague. 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).[39]

See also


  1. ^ ORET flyer, via Google Docs. Retrieved 2011-10-23.
  2. ^ See also nl:Ammar en Sara‎ (in Dutch)
  3. ^ Armenian embassy in Brussels (also accredited to the Netherlands): about bilateral relations
  4. ^ Harper affirms Canadian position on Armenian Genocide
  5. ^ Austrian embassy in The Hague (in Dutch and German only)
  6. ^ Dutch embassy in Vienna (in Dutch and German only)
  7. ^ Bulgarian embassy The Hague
  8. ^ Dutch embassy Sofia
  9. ^ Farrar McDermott, Hugh (1855). Letters on the Sound-dues-queston: I-VII.. p. 37. Retrieved 2010-12-31. 
  10. ^ Danish embassy in The Hague (in Danish and Dutch only)
  11. ^ Dutch embassy in Copenhagen
  12. ^ Dutch embassy in Budapest[dead link]
  13. ^ Hungarian embassy in The Hague
  14. ^ Dutch embassy in Bucharest
  15. ^ Romanian embassy in The Hague
  16. ^ Dutch embassy in Belgrade
  17. ^ Serbian embassy in The Hague
  18. ^ Dutch embassy in Bratislava
  19. ^ Dutch embassy in Ljubljana[dead link]
  20. ^ Slovenian embassy in The Hague
  21. ^ Dutch embassy in Ankara
  22. ^ Turkish embassy in The Hague
  23. ^ Dutch embassy in Kiev[dead link]
  24. ^ Ukrainian embassy in The Hague (new site)
  25. ^ The Netherlands Embassy :: Visit/Contact the Embassy
  26. ^ About us
  27. ^ Netherland Antilles, Willemstad, Curacao, British Consulate
  28. ^
  29. ^ "Mexico: Netherlands And Mexican Regulations To The Netherlands - Mexico Treaty Announced". Deloitte & Touche. September 23, 1997. Retrieved 2009-06-06. "In a press release dated 14 March 1997, the Netherlands Ministry of Finance announced the Netherlands and Mexican regulations under the Netherlands - Mexico tax treaty and protocol, both of 27 September 1993. The Mexican regulations deal with the formalities to be observed by residents of the Netherlands in order to be exempt from, or obtain a refund of, the Mexican withholding taxes on dividends, interest and royalties." 
  30. ^ "Mexico, Netherlands amend treaty to curb tax evasion". Xinhua. 2008. Retrieved 2009-06-06. "Mexico and the Netherlands modified a tax treaty signed in 1993 in a bid to strength cooperation to curb tax evasion, Mexican Treasury and Public Credit Ministry said on Friday." 
  31. ^ "Mexico: New protocol to the Mexico/Netherlands tax treaty". PricewaterhouseCoopers. 2008. Retrieved 2009-06-06. "The Mexican ministry of finance and the Dutch ambassador to Mexico signed a new protocol to the Mexico- Netherlands tax treaty, which includes the following relevant modifications ..." 
  32. ^ Foreign investment in U.S. companies soaring
  33. ^
  34. ^ Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs about relations with Israel (in Dutch only)[dead link]
  35. ^ Israeli embassy in The Hague
  36. ^ Dutch embassy in Tel Aviv
  37. ^ Mitsubishi Corporation — Regional Report on the Kingdom of the Netherlands[dead link]
  38. ^ 400 jaar handel — Four centuries of Japanese–Dutch trade relations: 1609–2009
  39. ^ Robert van Gulik, The gibbon in China. An essay in Chinese animal lore. E.J.Brill, Leiden, the Netherlands. (1967)

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