From their days as the global center of trade during the Golden Age of the 17th century, the Dutch have always understood the value of doing business with people from other lands.
But it’s never been as simple as exchanging goods or knowledge for gold, guilders, dollars or euros. Those goods and the people who have that knowledge must have reliable and secure trade routes, whether those routes are taken by sturdy vessels sailing the ocean, high-flying air freighters taking to the skies, or gigabytes dashing through cyberspace.
Simply put, vigorous international trade could not exist without secure trade routes. That’s just one of the reasons the Dutch are staunch supporters of global peace and security, and why international security is one of the priorities of the Netherlands Presidency of the EU.
“The two go hand in hand. In order for international trade to flourish and countries to prosper from their economic relationship with each other, the world must be peaceful and secure,” said the Netherlands Ambassador to the US Henne Schuwer. “Companies could not afford to ship goods across the ocean or through the air if the means of exchange were not safe. Imagine how our world would come to stop without international trade.”
Nuclear Security Summit
Throughout the centuries, the Netherlands has aimed to strengthen the international legal order to serve its interests as a trading nation. Peace and security have an intrinsic value, but also increase possibilities for trade and investment and contribute to the country’s prosperity.
The Hague prides itself in being the legal capital of the world, the city of peace and justice. So it is no coincidence that in 2014, the Hague hosted the Nuclear Security Summit, following earlier summits in Washington (2010) and Seoul (2012).
President Obama initiated the Nuclear Security Summits to reduce the risk of nuclear terrorism by working toward three objectives:
- reducing the amount of dangerous nuclear material in the world,
- improving the security of all nuclear and radioactive sources, and
- improving international cooperation.
Tangible achievements in these areas should help the global community face one of the greatest threats of today’s world.
When President Obama launched this process in 2009, he concluded that international cooperation was badly needed to secure the global stockpile of nuclear and radioactive material. The Netherlands was quick to jump aboard.
Resolving ‘real-life’ crises
When the Netherlands organized the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit, the Dutch introduced a number of innovative elements, such as a scenario-based policy discussion in which world leaders engaged in resolving “real-life” crises.
These scenarios are still part of the summit process.
To help prepare for the final Nuclear Security Summit under President Obama’s leadership March 31 and April 1 in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Department of Energy and Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Jan. 28 hosted Apex Gold, a scenario-based policy discussion among high-level representatives from around the world to discuss how nations would respond to an imminent nuclear terrorist threat.
The exercise serves as crucial groundwork for the summit.
It is clear that the objectives of the Nuclear Security Summit will continue to require attention at the highest level once the summit process comes to an end.
The Netherlands remains committed to the issue of nuclear security, as well as to the broader objective of peace and security through international cooperation, which is also why the Netherlands has put forward a bid for a seat on the U.N. Security Council (2017-2018).
“We know a thing or two about collaboration and the success that can arise from it,” said Ambassador Schuwer. “Whether it’s global leaders coming together to prevent nuclear terrorism, brokering treaties between countries, contributing to peacekeeping missions, or fighting terrorist organizations, we can only be successful if we work together. We are vulnerable as individual countries, but together we can overcome this threat.”
Peace and Security High on International Agenda
In fact, one of the Netherlands’ primary goals for its Presidency of the EU is taking a comprehensive approach to migration and international security to respond to the wave of migration flowing through Europe.
And the Netherlands is constantly advancing human rights as a core component of its foreign policy, both through direct diplomatic efforts with government officials and public diplomacy efforts, such as the annual Human Rights Tulip award.
Just like the Nuclear Security Summits, collaboration is key to advance global peace and security, not only to support trade between nations but to promote human rights.
“It’s two sides of the same coin,” said Ambassador Schuwer. “On one side, you have peace and security with practical applications you can see every day when you buy something made in another nation. But on the other side, and equally important, is the moral imperative to advance peace and security to eliminate human rights abuses. The Netherlands sees value in both.”