Trials and errors: The Netherlands
and human rights
Peter R. Baehr
Certain West European countries have the reputation of pursuing an active human rights policy. They are often referred to as “like-minded” in their foreign policy. The Scandinavian countries – Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden – are mentioned in this regard. The Netherlands has, for many years, had a similar reputation. The Norwegian human rights activist and present deputy foreign minister Jan Egeland once described this as follows:
The Netherlands has probably become the most effective human rights advocate today, because she ambitiously combines her favourable image as small state with allocating considerable resources to the planning, implementation and follow-up to an innovative and ambitious policy. … In the UN Human Rights Commission, the General Assembly and other UN bodies, the Dutch are always in the forefront in initiating new substantive mechanisms to monitor, mediate or improve when human rights problems are on the international agenda. 1
To what extent is Egeland's positive description – positive as seen from the perspective of the promotion and protection of human rights – still true?
This chapter does not pretend to cover the subject of Dutch human rights policy in its entirety. An effort has been made to present material