Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs resigns

The Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, Halbe Zijlstra, has resigned following his admission of falsely claiming to have been present at a gathering with Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2006.  

Zijlstra previously claimed that he himself had overheard Putin talking of expanisionist ambitions at the gathering but admitted  on Monday that he did not meet the president in person and had borrowed the information from a source.

The Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag, will take on the responsibilities of the Minister of Foreign Affairs until a new appointee is named.

Press Release - Dutch government

News article - Politico 


Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs announces €5.2 million for foreign cultural organizations

The Netherlands has made €5.2 million available for the Creative Twinning Fund 2018-2020, to support multi-year partnerships between Dutch and foreign cultural organizations. The goal is to foster closer cooperation with cultural and creative sectors in EU-bordering countries, with special regard to the issues of safety and stability. Eligible for funding are partnerships between cultural non-profit organizations and companies with a cultural profile.

Press release – Government of the Netherlands


Netherlands becomes a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council

The Netherlands, along with Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kuwait, Peru, and Poland, has formally joined the United Nations Security Council as a non-permanent member for one year. It is the sixth time that the country is temporarily part of the main international body for peace and security. The last time was 18 years ago, between 1999 and 2000. In March 2018, the Netherlands will chair the Security Council for a month.

Website - Government of the Netherlands


Dutch Foreign Minister pledges €5 million to the military G5 Sahel force

Dutch Foreign Minister Halbe Zijlstra has pledged to contribute €5 million in support of the G5 Sahel force, during a meeting in Paris.  This sum will go towards operational support as well as efforts to ensure that the force respects the rule of law and human rights.

The G5 Sahel force was set up in 2017 by Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger, to boost regional security in the Sahel region. Sahel and the G5 force are strategically important in combating terrorism and transnational crime, including people smuggling.

Minister Zijlstra also announced the Netherlands’ plans to open a diplomatic mission in Niamey, the capital of Niger, in January 2018.

Website - Government of the Netherlands


Dutch foreign minister allocates additional €190 million for crisis-affected regions

Dutch Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Minister Sigrid Kaag has allocated an additional €190 million for emergency funding in regions affected by conflict. The funding will be used to support shelter for refugees and vulnerable populations, as well as educational programs in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and the Horn of Africa. 

In 2017, the Netherlands spent €400 million on emergency aid. Part of this funding came from the Dutch Emergency Relief Fund, which will no longer be available after December 2017. As a result, there will only be €205 million available in 2018 from the regular emergency-assistance budget. According to Kaag, this shortfall would tarnish the Netherlands’ reputation as a trustworthy, predictable, and flexible partner, and that is why the additional funding has been added to the budget for humanitarian aid.

Website - Government of the Netherlands (in Dutch)


Dutch foreign minister revokes proposal to discontinue financial support to UNIDO

Dutch Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Minister Sigrid Kaag has revoked a proposal to withdraw support for the Statute of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), which seeks to promote and accelerate industrial development in developing countries.

The Dutch government has previously been critical of UNIDO's efficiency, as well as its relevance to Dutch development policy, and a proposal had been brought forward to cease supporting the organization. Kaag, following deliberations with the Dutch Council of Ministers, decided to continue supporting UNIDO based on several factors, including the new Dutch Cabinet’s development priorities, and improvements in UNIDO's organizational efficiency. 

Website - Government of the Netherlands (in Dutch)


Dutch Foreign Trade Minister allocates €25 million to the World Bank

After World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva visited the Netherlands, Dutch Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Minister Sigrid Kaag announced that there will be a €25-million allocation to the World Bank for, among other purposes, investment in infrastructure and employment opportunity programs in Jordan and Lebanon. The funding will come in the form of 'soft loans',  with a below-market rate of interest, to support Jordan and Lebanon in creating shelter for refugees, in order to reduce pressure on host communities. 

In the past, Dutch financial support in the form of soft loans has helped to reform the job market in Jordan, and helped to provide 71,000 Syrian refugees with work permits. This new allocation will make it possible to start a national employment opportunity program in Lebanon in 2018.

Website - Government of the Netherlands (in Dutch)


Dutch development minister allocates €190 million to support refugees near conflict zones

Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Sigrid Kaag has announced €190 million in emergency assistance for refugees in or near conflict-affected regions, with €50 million being allocated towards shelter. The remainder of the funding will be used to support education and employment opportunities.

According to the UN, 105 million people are currently dependent on international humanitarian assistance. Accordingly, Kaag stated that with the funding, "the Netherlands is taking its share of responsibility". 

Website - Federal Government (in Dutch)


New Dutch cabinet stabilizes ODA level

In a letter to the Committee of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Sigrid Kaag answered questions about the Dutch ODA budget, which the new cabinet has stabilized at around 0.55% of GNI for the period 2018 to 2022. This percentage is up from the approximately 0.51% of GNI proposed in the 2018 budget, which came before the cabinet had been put in place

According to Kaag, the total amount of unallocated funds in the 2018 budget is expected to add up to €402 million. The Committee will be informed shortly about the intended allocation. 

Website - Government of the Netherlands (in Dutch)


OECD DAC holds meetings in Paris to discuss ODA

The Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) held key meetings this week at its headquarters in Paris, hosting delegations from the 30 richest donor countries to discuss the rules surrounding ODA. A number of controversial issues were debated, including 1) the amount of ODA that donors can spend on in-country refugee costs, 2) the cap on the amount of ODA that can be directed towards multilateral peacekeeping efforts in conflict-affected countries, and 3) how to measure ODA spent through blended finance mechanisms.

The UK in particular has been critical of existing ODA regulations, having previously suggested that it may pull out of OECD-DAC if rules surrounding spending on military and security costs remained unchanged.

News article - Devex