Kingdom of the Netherlands

The Netherlands abandoned a long-standing policy of neutrality after World War II. The Dutch are engaged participants in international affairs. Dutch foreign policy is geared to promoting a wide variety of goals: the rule of law, human rights, and democracy. Priority is given to enhancing European integration, ensuring European security and stability (mainly through the mechanism of NATO and by emphasizing the important role the United States plays in the security of Europe), and participating in conflict management and peacekeeping missions.

Dutch foreign policy aims to guarantee Dutch interests and is inspired by the wish to promote peace, freedom, prosperity and the international legal order. Development cooperation is an important part of foreign policy. The Netherlands pursues its foreign policy largely within the framework of multilateral organisations, such as the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). It takes part regularly in the peace operations of these organisations. The Netherlands also seeks to maintain good bilateral relations with its neighbouring countries, France, Germany and the United Kingdom, the Scandinavian countries, the Benelux partners Belgium and Luxembourg, and the other EU and NATO member states. In addition, the Netherlands has strong ties with the USA and is helping the countries of central and eastern Europe make the transition to democracy and the market economy.

The Netherlands was a founding member of the UN, NATO, the European Communities (now the European Union), the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the West European Union. As a relatively small country with a globally-oriented economy, the Netherlands attaches great importance to a well-structured world order.

The Netherlands is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), the military alliance that comprises the USA, Canada and many European countries. NATO, the cornerstone of Dutch security policy, has been working for peace, security and stability since 1949. Since the end of the Cold War, NATO has adapted to the changes in international relations by concluding partnership agreements with countries in central and eastern Europe, the Mediterranean and the Middle East. NATO also cooperates more closely with Russia in the NATO-Russia Council, which was established in 2002, and has a special relationship with Ukraine via the NATO-Ukraine Commission.

Dutch foreign policy mainly focuses on the European Union (EU), the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the United Nations (UN). The core objective of that policy, of which development cooperation forms an integral part, is the promotion of peace, freedom and prosperity throughout the world. The European Union is essential to both Europe and the Netherlands. To Europe it means the promotion of peace, security stability and prosperity. For the Netherlands the importance lies in the fact that cooperation and common policy in the European Union are becoming elementary conditions for the adequate steering and resolving of internal issues in an increasing number of areas. The future of the Netherlands is interwoven with that of the European Union.

With regard to defence matters, the Netherlands aims for strengthening of the Common Foreign and Security Policy. NATO, incidentally, is the cornerstone of the policy. The enlargement of both the European Union and NATO contributes to the realisation of stable economic and democratic relations in Europe.

The Netherlands maintains an active peace and security policy. It attaches great value to the promotion of the international rule of law and has long demonstrated wide concern for human suffering and a strong commitment to combating human rights violations. The Netherlands strives towards a stable and peaceful international environment, with good international relations and effective security institutions. In addition, free world trade is important to the economy. For these reasons the Netherlands wants to contribute actively to resolving security problems both within Europe and beyond.

An active security policy also includes a willingness to intervene at an early stage in crisis situations in other parts of the world, obviously within an international context. The aim is to resolve conflicts without resorting to military force. If the use of diplomatic, economic, financial and humanitarian means fails, however, sufficient military resources must be available to be able to carry out both peacekeeping and peace enforcement tasks. Foreign policy, development cooperation (i.e. international development issues) and defence issues are to an increasing extent in line with one another. The country makes great efforts in the field of international development. Dutch security policy is geared towards preventing large-scale conflicts by means of crisis management. The Netherlands belongs to the group of nations that is constantly active in the promotion of peace and security.

Join the mailing list