The Ministry of Foreign Affairs coordinates and carries out the foreign policy of the Dutch government. Unique among Dutch ministries, Foreign Affairs has two parts: the Ministry headquarters in The Hague and the missions abroad.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs is responsible for Dutch foreign policy and the Ministry's overall leadership. He is assisted by the Minister for European Affairs and International Cooperation, who formulates and implements foreign aid and development cooperation policy. These Government members are the Ministry's political leaders.
Senior civil servants
The Secretary-General, the Deputy Secretary-General, and four Directors-General are the Ministry's most senior civil servants. The Directors-General head the Ministry's five Directorates-General, which serve the political leaders within specific spheres of foreign policy.
- The Directorate-General for European Cooperation (DGES) develops and coordinates Dutch policy on Europe and the European Union.
- The Directorate-General for Political Affairs (DGPZ) develops policy on peace and security matters, and advises the political leaders on foreign-policy issues.
- The Directorate-General for International Cooperation (DGIS) is responsible for development cooperation policy, its coordination, implementation, and funding.
- The Directorate-General for Consular Affairs and Operational Management (DGCB) is responsible for both consular services and the operational management of the ministry.
The Secretary-General and the Directors-General are each responsible for several departments engaged in either policy-related or support activities. There are four types of department:
- Regional departments develop and carry out coherent, effective policy on the world's regions and countries. They include the North Africa and Middle East Department (DAM), the Sub-Saharan Africa Department (DAF), and the Europe Department (DEU).
- Policy theme departments combine knowledge and expertise in one foreign policy area or more. They include the Security Policy Department (DVB), the Human Rights and Good Governance Department (DMH), and the Environment and Development Department (DML).
- Multilateral departments deliver the Dutch contribution to multilateral forums. They also send Dutch delegates to international organisations. There are two: the European Integration Department (DIE) and the United Nations and International Financial Institutions Department (DVF).
- Support departments serve the entire Ministry in areas like finance, personnel, information systems, organisation, and communications. They include the Legal Affairs Department (DJZ), the Communication Department (COM), and the Office of the Secretary-General (BSG).
Dutch missions abroad
Around the world, the Ministry has more than 150 embassies, consulates-general, consulates and permanent missions to international organisations, also known as 'missions'. In addition, it has some 360 honorary consulates, with more limited powers. The missions promote the interests of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and of Dutch people abroad. As well as embassies, consulates-general and consulates, which are bilateral missions, the Netherlands has 16 multilateral missions or permanent representations to international organisations like the European Union, NATO, and the United Nations.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is advised on different issues by the following advisory bodies:
- Advisory Council on International Affairs (AIV)
- Advisory Committee on Issues of Public International Law (CAVV)
- Netherlands Development Assistance Research Council ( RAWOO)
- Government Committee on Private International Law
The Centre for the Promotion of Imports from Developing Countries (CBI) contributes to the economic independence of developing countries by helping them sell their products and services in the European Union.
Autonomous administrative authority
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has a single autonomous administrative authority, the National Committee for International Cooperation and Sustainable Development (NCDO).
The Ministry also has a number of special ambassadors, each dedicated to a particular theme.