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A broad coalition of prominent former ministers, professors, and diplomats calls in De Volkskrant to ensure international cooperation. Led by former ministers of Defense and Foreign Affairs, they stress the importance of complying with international agreements. The Netherlands must be committed, they say, to peace, security, human rights, and climate because it derives a substantial part of its national income from international trade. In doing so, they underline the Constitution and the NATO standard for defense spending. The call is addressed to the government informer and negotiating parties of the new cabinet, urging them to ensure the prosperity and security of the Netherlands by investing in sustainable development and climate protection.

Why you need to know

The negotiating parties for a new coalition government in the Netherlands have shown in their election programs that international cooperation is of secondary importance in solving our national problems. With an appeal in De Volkskrant, a group of knowledgeable Dutch experts convincingly shows this is a short-sighted view. “Cooperation offers our country numerous advantages and contributes to our prosperity and security.”

The unique call by leading Dutchmen, including former government officials and experts (their names are at the bottom of this article), reflects a profound concern about the role of the Netherlands on the world stage. With government informer Ronald Plasterk foreseeing a possible new cabinet with parties such as PVV, VVD, NSC, and BBB, there is a ready chance of a new political direction for the country.


According to the signatories, Dutch people’s concerns about energy bills, living costs, and health care are closely linked to international events, such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the global spread of viruses. This shows that national policies are not enough; good international relations are essential.

It points to the importance of good relations with countries near Europe for international security and stability. To restore cooperation for regional stability, the Netherlands and the EU must invest substantially in emergency aid and development cooperation. This is urgent, given global poverty, humanitarian crises, and increasing conflicts.

Article 90 of the Dutch Constitution, to which the signatories directly refer, mandates the government to promote the international rule of law, and with the NATO norm stating that 2 percent of GDP must be spent on defense by 2024, there is a clear expectation of international obligations. The signatories say this is not only a matter of security but also of economic importance.

The appeal authors emphasize that the Netherlands has a rich history and current practice of international cooperation in multiple areas, including security, trade, human rights, and climate. This cooperation is a matter of responsibility and substantially benefits the country itself, such as prosperity and livelihood security.

The call contains a list of concrete action items. For example, it calls for substantial investment in emergency aid and development cooperation to achieve sustainable development goals. It also stresses the importance of complying with climate agreements, estimating the costs of noncompliance as significantly higher than the costs of investing in renewable energy sources: “For the Netherlands, too, the costs of not complying with climate agreements will be much higher than the costs of investing in renewable energy sources.”

“Also for the Netherlands, the cost of not meeting the climate agreements will be much higher than the cost of investments in renewable energy sources.”

Focus on security and development

The Dutch Foreign Ministry’s 2022 Memorandum of Understanding shows how the Netherlands contributes to worldwide peace, security, and sustainable development. This includes programs to prevent and reduce violent conflict and promote rule of law development and legitimate state structures. The Netherlands also improves the prospects of refugees by focusing on education and employment.

The minister’s responsibilities include funding security and rule of law programs and actively addressing root causes of conflict. The Netherlands’ policy is to contribute to stability in crisis areas through international cooperation and assistance.

Moral imperative

As the new administration begins to take shape, it is clear that the challenges and opportunities on the world stage call for a thoughtful Dutch contribution. The emphasis on cooperation in security, human rights, trade, climate, and sustainable development is not only a matter of moral obligation but also of strategic importance for the future prosperity and security of the Netherlands.

It is now up to the government informer and the negotiating parties to take this call to heart and ensure that the Netherlands continues to invest in international cooperation, which is essential for our country. Not only for the present moment but also for generations to come.

The article headline and the names of the authors:

© De Volkskrant