Five main goals of Dutch foreign policy

Strengthening international governance
The objective of international governance is to create a peaceful, safe, prosperous and just world with a sustainable environment. The key to successful international governance is ensuring an effective international legal order, largely by strengthening the international organisations whose role is to maintain it. This is also the reason why the Netherlands is the host country to the International Criminal Court.

Like international environmental policy, financial and economic policy is an important aspect of international governance. Without balanced financial and economic governance, there can be no international justice or solidarity. The need for financial and economic governance flows from the growing interdependence of national economies, both regionally and globally.

The Netherlands regards human rights as fundamental to the international legal order, so human rights policy is an abiding concern of foreign and development policy.

Promoting international peace, security and stability
Dutch security policy has two main goals: the security of Dutch and allied territory and the promotion of international peace, security and stability.

Many countries are embroiled in violent conflict. A country in conflict cannot make serious headway in reducing poverty. On the other hand, poverty is often a breeding ground for conflict. So conflict management is vital to Dutch security policy. Recovery in conflict-ridden countries and regions requires peacebuilding as well as emergency aid and infrastructural and economic reconstruction.

The Netherlands will provide assistance wherever populations are under threat, whether from natural disasters or human actions. The only proviso is that the countries affected officially request assistance from the international community. Assistance of this kind is called humanitarian assistance.

Promoting European cooperation
After the Second World War, the countries of Europe resolved never to fight each other again. They sought to ensure peace via economic interdependence. In 1951, the European Coal and Steel Community was established, followed in 1957 by the European Economic Community (EEC). These were the first two institutional manifestations of European cooperation The European Union (EU) came into being with the signing of the Maastricht Treaty in 1992. On 1 May 2004, the European Union welcomed ten new member states, bringing the total membership to 25.

Reducing poverty sustainably
In 2000, the international community pledged to halve worldwide poverty by 2015. With this in mind, it set itself eight ambitious Millennium Development Goals. The Dutch minister responsible for development cooperation, Agnes van Ardenne, is striving to ensure that the Netherlands works towards these goals as efficiently and productively as possible. To this end, she is supporting public-private partnerships with civil society organisations, enterprises and educational institutions in rich and poor countries.

Maintaining and strengthening bilateral relations
To promote their national political and economic interests, countries have to maintain and strengthen bilateral, state-to-state relations. To do so, they need a network of missions.

The Netherlands is also using bilateral contacts to strengthen its international ties in the realm of education and to promote a sustainable global environment. Dutch international cultural policy aims to strengthen the Netherlands’ international cultural profile and to deepen its cultural ties with certain countries and regions.