Netherlands Report


Policies Developed

The Dutch government generally prefers the term ‘integrated approach’ when referring to the framework for delivering coherent interventions and support to countries in crisis or conflict, while a whole- of-government approach (WGA) is considered a means to this end. As outlined above, the relevant policies can be traced back to at least the early 1990s, but the most relevant current policy document is the ‘Guidelines on the Integrated Approach’ (Ministry of Foreign Affairs 2014). The guidelines set the conceptual framework and specify government structures and procedural steps for implementing this approach in addition to providing the framework for a WGA.
The integrated approach is operationalised in the Integrated International Security Strategy (IISS) 2018–2022 (Ministry of Foreign Affairs 2018a), and the ‘Investing in Global Prospects’ note (Ministry of Foreign Affairs 2018b), which outlines Dutch policy on foreign trade and development cooperation. References to an integrated approach are generally found in most government documents regarding foreign and security policy.
Also worth mentioning is the formal framework (Toetsingskader) for assessing foreign military deployments. Although this framework does not formulate policy as such, it sets the framework for government and parliament regarding decision-making on possible military deployments. The framework dates back to 1995, but since its most recent updates (2009, 2014), it takes into account the political context in which a military deployment takes place as well as the way in which a military intervention would support or facilitate aspects of stabilisation, human security and development. The framework therefore ensures an integrated approach and involves relevant ministries from the earliest stages of planning a military deployment.
The policy documents build on years of experience, and their quality is generally high. The documents have been shared with parliament and, certainly since the Dutch engagement in ISAF, the integrated approach has gained familiarity and broad support in the parliament. This, in turn, translates into broad support for ambitious policies and strategies in multilateral settings. It also means that references to the integrated approach are found in almost all policy papers regarding foreign and security policy.
The 2014 guidelines were drafted as overall principles and working methods and, as such, they are applicable in any conflict-affected country or region. The guidelines provide a step-by-step plan in six phases that tries to capture all aspects of a conflict, from early warning and early action through stabilisation, peacebuilding and reconstruction. It builds on experience with (elements of) the integrated approach in various countries and regions, such as Afghanistan, Burundi, the Horn of Africa, Mali and Syria, but acknowledges that there are no blueprints that will apply everywhere as well as that a country-specific approach will always be required to find the right mix of instruments and interventions to have an impact. In principle, the guidelines are system-wide in that they reference the importance of using all available instruments and entry points, including economy and trade, and of engaging all relevant stakeholders, including international organisations and civil society. However, the practical focus (also in terms of structures and procedures) is of a medium scope, with most attention being devoted to cooperation between diplomacy, development cooperation, military intervention and support for the rule of law.
The IISS and the ‘Investing in Global Prospects’ note have operationalised the guidelines and applied them to the priorities of the current government. In geographical terms, the IISS prioritises the countries and regions of instability and insecurity around Europe (the so-called ‘ring of instability’), particularly to its east and south, as well as those that are close to the Dutch overseas territories in the Caribbean. It sets out a number of goals that include (conflict-)prevention, combatting the root causes of terrorism and migration, and strengthening the international legal order. It also links issues related to security, climate change and sustainable development.
The ‘Investing in Global Prospects’ note focuses on instability in regions such as West Africa and the Sahel, North Africa, the Middle East and the Horn of Africa as well as on (the root causes of) irregular migration. The note formulates its goals regarding just and peaceful societies in a chapter on stability and poverty reduction. It specifically mentions strengthening the rule of law and legitimate governance, supporting peace processes and preventing radicalisation. The integrated approach is seen within the broader policy framework of foreign trade and development cooperation, and its scope is in that sense system-wide.
In practical terms, the integrated approach is explicitly applied and debated when the government notifies the parliament in a so-called Article 100 letter that it intends to deploy military personnel abroad. This formal notification will have been drafted in accordance with the evaluation framework (Toetsingskader) and usually signed by all relevant ministers (Defence, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade & Development Cooperation and, when applicable, Justice & Security). Parliament will scrutinise the government’s justification to determine whether the military deployment is credibly embedded in a broader integrated approach.
Back to Top