Speech Minister of Foreign Affairs on the occasion of the start of the Netherlands’ term on the UN Security Council

Speech by H.E. Halbe Zijlstra, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, on the occasion of the start of the Netherlands’ term on the UN Security Council, Peace Palace, 22 December 2017



ladies and gentlemen,

Welcome to the Hague.

António, thank you for your wise and friendly words. About the role of the Netherlands in the United Nations.

And about the Hague as city of peace and justice.

About the importance of multilateralism, and the need to defend, strenghten and reform it.

It’s an honour to have you here.

Indeed, on the occasion of the closure of ICTY.

And on the eve of our Security Council membership – we only have nine more days to go.

Then, on the First of January, we will take our seat on the most important forum in the United Nations system.

Today, we’d like to let you know that we are ready for the job. The Team in New York is eager to start, together with a well-prepared network of foreign missions, and our staff here in The Hague.

Our commitment will be a comprehensive one. Combining foreign affairs, development cooperation and also: defence.

We will be a reliable partner.

Lending a hand where we can. For example, on the sanctions committees. But also, as it has just been confirmed, as coordinator for all the resolutions and statements on Afghanistan.

We will be realistic. But also idealistic. The one really does not exclude the other.

And: we will bring some of our own accents to the fore.

Focussing on areas where we can add value.

Specifically on: 

  • peacekeeping operations;
  • justice;
  • and the root causes of conflicts.

    Let me say a few words about the first two themes.

    My colleague, Minister Kaag, will address the third.

First, there is the issue of peacekeeping operations.

Designing their mandates is, after all, the Security Council’s core business.

Here, our recent experience as a troop contributor in MINUSMA, to which you just referred, reconfirmed two important lessons:

Firstly: ”one-size-fits-all” solutions do not exist. Mandates must be specifically tailored for the situation at hand.

Secondly: missions must be well equipped. The civilians on the ground deserve no less. They need protection. So do the peacekeepers, who risk their lives for the safety of others.

This is, unfortunately, no theory: just a few weeks ago, fifteen peacekeepers died in a brutal attack on the mission in Eastern Congo.

I would like to again express my heartfelt condolences.

Mr. Secretary-General, we support your agenda for reform of peacekeeping operations. We will be your partner in these efforts, and draw special attention to this subject during our presidency in March.

The second theme we would like to spotlight, is justice. Thank you, Antonio, for underlining its importance in your speech.

There simply can be no peace without justice.

It is fitting to mention this here, in this Grand Hall of the International Court of Justice.

Of course, we know that sometimes, justice has to be patient.

But this doesn’t mean we have to be passive.

Evidence can be gathered. Investigations can be commissioned. Cases can be built. Even when the conflict rages on.

This is what has been done in the case of the former Yugoslavia. And for Syria, and Iraq. And most recently, in the case of Yemen.

The Security Council discusses these situations on a regular basis. As member of the Council, we will argue that the fight against impunity should never be an afterthought. But an integral part of durable peace.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Of course, we realise that the bulk of our work on the Security Council will be driven by events as they arise.

That said, we will make the most of our Kingdom’s strengths, within the scope available.

That includes adequate attention for the root causes of conflicts – including the effects of climate change.

My colleague, Minister Kaag, will say more about this issue.

In closing, Mr. Secretary-General, let me once again thank you for your presence here. And assure you, that we are looking forward to continue working with you.

In the new year 2018 – and beyond.

Thank you.

Ministry responsible