House of Representatives supports details of new development policy
The reform of Dutch efforts in developing countries has the backing of a broad parliamentary majority. On Wednesday Minister for European Affairs and International Cooperation Ben Knapen steered a detailed version of the last two spearheads through the House of Representatives.
Since he came to office, Mr Knapen has been working to reduce fragmentation. The number of partner countries has been cut back from 33 to 15, with activities focused on four spearheads: water, sexual health and rights, food security, and security and the rule of law. Other programmes, including education and health care, are being phased out.
Mr Knapen is glad that the government can continue to see through its fundamental reform of development policy, despite its caretaker status. The House of Representatives did not put any aspect of the policy on hold as ‘controversial’. On Wednesday, having previously received approval for a series of policy letters in which he set out the changes, Mr Knapen received support for the spearheads sexual and reproductive health and rights and security and the rule of law.
The spearhead sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) reflects the Netherlands’ commitment to the millions of young people and women who are put at risk every day due to a lack of information and lack of access to contraceptives and good care. Security and the rule of law remain prerequisites for sustainable development and self-reliance in unstable and insecure countries in which not a single Millennium Development Goal is being reached.
Moreover, the government believes that working to achieve security and the rule of law is a smart investment. ‘Conflicts in development countries affect us time and again in the form of terrorism, piracy, trade in arms and drugs, trafficking in women and illegal immigration. And it costs a fortune to combat these problems. Conflict prevention is a cost-effective way of removing the underlying causes,’ Mr Knapen said.