Sigrid Kaag receives report on better integration of the SDGs and human rights

The Advisory Council on International Affairs (AIV) published its advice to the Dutch minister of foreign trade and development cooperation, Sigrid Kaag, on the relationship between the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and human rights. On the basis of the conclusions of the report, the AIV made nine policy recommendations for Ms. Kaag.

For each recommendation, a number of tools were provided to operationalize foreign policy on these points. These recommendations included the need for better integration of development, human rights, and environmental policy, using the Agenda 2030 of the SDGs to strengthen the multilateral human rights system, or prioritizing the work against shrinking civic spaces (including publicly emphasizing the importance of independent civil society organizations and human rights defenders).

Full report - Advisory Council on International Affairs (in Dutch) 


Dutch government and CSO partners hold seminar on shrinking civic spaces

On June 27, 2019, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation held a seminar on the impact of non-state actors on civic space, co-organized with INCLUDE, a knowledge platform on inclusive development policies. The seminar was co-led by To Tjoelker, head of the Civil Society Department of the ministry. In 2017, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), in conjunction with INCLUDE and others, started a research program called ‘New roles of CSOs for inclusive development’, to scrutinize the assumptions underlying the MFA’s policies to support civil society organizations.

In the seminar, attended by over 100 participants, the organizers discussed findings that actions of state repression can extend well beyond traditional government entities, to include businesses and media, among others. Participants also discussed how donors can better support civil society in increasingly oppressive environments. 

Press Release - INCLUDE


Dutch development assistance to increase in MENA region, West Africa/Sahel, Horn of Africa

The Dutch Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation of the Netherlands sent a letter to Parliament providing details on the shift in geographical focus of Dutch development cooperation. As previously announced in the Development Cooperation Policy published in May 2018, development cooperation will increasingly focus on projects in West Africa/Sahel, the Horn of Africa, the Middle East and North Africa. The memorandum states that the thematic program budget in these regions will increase by a third at minimum over the course of the current government term, and staff capacity and expertise building will be also prioritized in these regions. 

The renewed Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) Partnership Fund will focus in large part on the upscaling of programs in Ethiopia and Mali, and on the establishment of new programs in Niger, Burkina Faso and Uganda.

Dutch contributions to multilateral funds such as United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Global Alliance of Vaccines and Immunisation (Gavi) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria are not geographically earmarked; the funds will be disbursed according to the organizations' criteria and country lists, and therefore the changes in focus countries do not affect them. 

Press release - Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch)


Results website touts 2017-2018 Dutch development cooperation outcomes

On a website dedicated in detail to its core development results, the government of the Netherlands noted key numbers pertaining their cooperation efforts.

According to the site, the Dutch government offers funding support to a total of 5,968 organisations in more than 60 countries. Since the start of Dialogue and Dissent in 2016, a program focused on lobbying and advocacy, at least 9,000 initiatives have taken place worldwide to better inform and mobilize citizens, influence agenda setting, and train people to engage in dialogues with authorities and businesses. The report notes that in the 2017-2018 period, the project has had significant influence on the passage of 933 policies that strengthen inclusive and sustainable development.

The results site also contains reflections on progress in other relevant areas, on topics such as shrinking civic spaces and the status of human rights defenders across the globe.

Official results site - Government of the Netherlands


Dutch development ministry publishes policy for upcoming civil society organizations support program

The Dutch Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation published the policy framework outlining priorities and funding mechanisms to support civil society organisations (CSOs) in future. The overarching goal of the policy framework is the strengthening of a civil society that, based on a human rights approach, expresses the voices and needs of citizens, and the establishment an inclusive and sustainable society overall. 

policy articulates the key lessons learned from past programs (such as Dialogue and Dissent), including recommendations that new projects include more focus on collaboration with local governments and that gender be more strongly integrated into all programs. 

Under the framework, two key programs will be established: "Power of Voices" and the "SDG5" with three and four sub-funds, respectively.

The Ministry aims to have the current policy framework ready by the end of the summer but details on project aims and budgets are already available. 

Press release- Parliament of the Netherlands (only in Dutch)


Dutch government shares ‘spring budget’ for the 2019 Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Ministry

The Dutch government published a new version of the 2019 governmental budget, the so called 'Spring Budget', or 'Spring Memorandum'. This new version also includes revision to the budget pertaining to the Ministry for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation for this year. 

The Spring Budget will be discussed in the Dutch Parliament before the summer recess, and a new version will be published in autumn.

Budget - Government of the Netherlands (in Dutch)


Dutch parliament submits questions on 2019 spring budget to development ministry

Following the publication of the spring budget by the government of the Netherlands, the General Committee on Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation of the Dutch Parliament submitted a number of questions to the minister for foreign trade and development cooperation.

Questions posed by the Committee range from inquiries about the Dutch 'China Strategy', questions to Minister Sigrid Kaag about how budget revisions will affect the total percentage of Official Development Assistance (ODA) in coming years, and clarifying questions about increases in funding under different budget headings.

Report and questions - Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch)


Dutch Ministry for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation publishes questions and responses on 2018 budget

The Dutch Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation published the questions posed by the Parliament of the Netherlands to Minister Sigrid Kaag in relation to the 2018 budget, as well as her responses.

The document answers questions on issues such as the total amounts spent on HIV/AIDS research and treatment in 2018 and the contributions to Global Health multilaterals such as WHO, Gavi,or the Global Financing Facility.

 Official Page – Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch)


Dutch minister Sigrid Kaag shares Digital Agenda for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation with parliament

Sigrid Kaag, the minister of foreign trade and development cooperation of the Netherlands, in partnership with the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, developed and presented the Digital Agenda for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation in parliament.

In this document, the Dutch government explains how it is responding to the opportunities and risks of digitization in order to achieve the objectives of its development policy faster and more effectively. Among other issues, the Digital Agenda explores the impact that some of the current digital developments, such as the rise of blockchain or virtual reality, may have for the Sustainable Development Goals. Moreover, it provides reflections and guidance on issues such as innovation, emancipation and inclusivity, given the existing digital gap based on factors such as income, age, geography, and gender.

This strategy is an extension of the Dutch digitization strategy from 2018.

News article – Government of the Netherlands (in Dutch)


Dutch government presents new policy framework for humanitarian support, debates budget allocations

On June 6, 2019, the Parliament of the Nethelands discusssed the new policy framework for humanitarian aid with the Dutch minister for foreign trade and development cooperation, Sigrid Kaag. The policy framework was shared with Parliament earlier in March this year. The minister is likely to spend 10 to 20% on specific programs around specific priorities: namely mental health and psychosocial care, preparedness and innovation.

During the debate, different parties advocated for different potential areas to focus available funds, generated by economic growth; Christian Unie asked the minister to allocate funds towards humanitarian aid. Christian Democratic Appeal suggested allocating the money to psychosocial care. Partij van de Arbeid (labor) advocated for spending on civic space and D66 suggested earmarking the funds for supporting multilateral organizations.

The final decisions about this budget area will be made before ‘Prinsjesdag’ (on September 17th, when the overall 2020 government budget will be presented) during the annual budget debate in the fall. 

News article - Government of the Netherlands (in Dutch)