This issue contains 4 sections.
Freedom and democracy
The Netherlands is proud of its long tradition as a champion of the freedoms of expression and religion at both national and international level and wishes to maintain it. Freedom of expression and freedom of religion and belief lie at the foundation of every democratic state governed by the rule of law where people can share their beliefs with others without fear of persecution, where abuses can be exposed in a free public debate, and where people can participate in the government of the country through free and fair elections.
Freedom of expression and internet freedom
The Netherlands believes that freedom of expression and internet freedom are indispensable for the functioning of a democratic state governed by the rule of law.
By increasing media diversity and quality the Netherlands will make a stronger contribution to democratisation and to enabling human rights defenders to champion the freedoms of others. Internet freedom is an essential element of this.
Together with the US, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Canada and others the Netherlands will continue to play a leading role in promoting internet freedom. The Netherlands will work with these partners to support cyber dissidents and bloggers politically and financially.
Freedom of religion and belief
In many countries the freedom of religion and belief is consistently under threat. Whether this is caused by discriminatory government policy or tensions between different religious groups, perhaps exacerbated by radical elements in society, violence and discrimination directed at religious minorities is unacceptable and combating them remains a major human rights priority for the Netherlands.
The Netherlands is making greater efforts than ever before to combat the persecution of religious minorities. The itinerary of the Human Rights Ambassador will give priority to countries where the freedom of religious minorities is under threat. In addition the pilot project on religious freedom implemented in recent years by Dutch embassies in five countries will be provisionally extended to ten countries. After the pilot has been fully evaluated the opportunities for further expansion will be explored.
Equal rights for all
The Netherlands rejects discrimination on all grounds. However, an effective foreign policy requires that choices be made. In the coming period the Netherlands will therefore focus on combating two forms of discrimination in which we have built up a considerable reputation and experience in recent decades: discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and discrimination on the basis of sex.
The handbook on human rights and sexual orientation helps diplomats and embassy staff in promoting the rights of people with a different sexual orientation or gender identity.