Peace, justice & security

Human rights are the foundations of a democracy in which every person counts, in all places, at all times. The Netherlands strives to protect and promote human rights all over the world.

The development of international law is an integral part of the foreign policy of the Netherlands. It is enshrined in the Dutch constitution. The Hague is known as the legal capital of the world. As such, the city has become the seat of many international legal organisations such as Europol, Eurojust, the International Court of Justice, the Inter­national Criminal Court and the International Criminal Tribunal of the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The Hague also hosts the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The OPCW is responsible for monitoring compliance with the ban on chemical weapons and their destruction.

As a leading proponent of Human Rights, at home and abroad, the Netherlands supports freedom of speech, gender equality, and fair access to edu­cation, work and healthcare. The Dutch government strives to pro­tect and promote human rights all over the world. Besides the Netherlands Institute of Human Rights, it is also home to the European Court of Human Rights.

The Netherlands has long had a reputation for stability and justice. It plays an active role in preventing armed conflict worldwide and strengthening the international legal order by, for instance, participating in peace missions and supporting reconstruction in post-conflict countries.

An effective legal order is an essential condition for economic growth and development. Countries with fast-growing economies where the rule of law is weak run the risk of sliding into instability. The Dutch government therefore seeks to strengthen security and the rule of law in countries where governance is poor.


All sub-themes

Rule of law

Security and a fair legal system contribute to a country’s national stability. This is particularly important if governance is weak. In some cases, the safety of civilians may be directly at risk. To promote national stability, the Netherlands also supports the establishment of courts and public authorities.

Human Rights

Promoting and protecting human rights worldwide is a priority in the foreign policy of the Netherlands. The Netherlands employs a wide array of actions and initiatives geared towards the strengthening of human rights.


All over the world, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTIQ+) people face discrimination and violence. But everyone should be free to be themselves, no matter who they are and who they love. This is why the Netherlands promotes equal rights for LGBTIQ+ people worldwide. Homosexuality is a criminal offence in almost 70 countries, and in some it is punishable by death. LGBTIQ+ people are often reluctant to report violence because they are afraid of being recognised as LGBTIQ+. This is why the Netherlands is actively committed to decriminalising sexual orientation and gender identity, fighting discrimination and violence and promoting social acceptance around the world. In order to achieve these objectives the Netherlands works with other countries in the intergovernmental Equal Rights Coalition (ERC). The ERC is dedicated to the protection of the rights of LGBTIQ+ persons and with the business community, for example in the Workplace Pride network. On 17 May, the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT), we draw attention to the importance of equal rights for LGBTI people.

World Press Freedom

The Netherlands supports free and independent journalism. Journalists help us make sense of facts, rumours and figures. They risk their lives to report on what is happening around the globe.


As host to many international legal institutions, the Netherlands helps to strengthen the legal order worldwide. Our country also plays an active role in preventing armed conflict in many regions across the globe. To accomplish this, we take part in peace missions and support reconstruction in post-conflict countries.

Refugees and migration

In 2015, an unprecedented number of persons entered the EU irregularly; fleeing conflict, seeking protection, or looking for better opportunities. Since 2015, much has been done to bring flows of irregular migration under control.

Emergency aid and humanitarian diplomacy

Millions of people worldwide urgently need food, protection, medicines and shelter. They may have survived a natural disaster such as an earthquake or floods, be trapped in a war zone or be fleeing from armed conflict. In general, the Netherlands does not provide emergency aid directly, but donates to professional aid organisations such as the United Nations and the International Red Cross.

International The Hague

The Hague is known as the legal capital of the world. It is home to a large number of international legal organisations such as the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the International Criminal Court and various UN tribunals. The city hosted the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the Special Court for Sierra Leone and currently hosts Special Tribunal for Lebanon. Besides the various courts of justice, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is also located in The Hague.

75 years of freedom

Today, Europe is a community of values and shared beliefs and it has a vibrant market full of opportunities,  thanks to European cooperation and the establishment of a global post-war order. The latter is embodied in organizations like the UN, NATO, the IMF and the World Trade Organization. Our freedom is something we must cherish and protect. And we have the responsibility to pass it on to next generations.


In a democracy, citizens elect their own representatives. Therefore, it is important that they know and understand how the national government works. The Dutch government encourages its citizens to become involved in politics and participate in society. The Netherlands is a parliamentary democracy, with elections held at least every 4 years.