Working worldwide for the security of the Netherlands: an Integrated International Security Strategy 2018-2022

Events abroad have a direct impact on the security of the Netherlands. Worldwide action on security is therefore needed to defend Dutch interests. In the words of foreign minister Stef Blok, ‘Security is the backbone of Dutch foreign policy.’ In this spirit, the Dutch government today presented an Integrated International Security Strategy (IISS).

The international security situation has changed significantly in recent years, and in some respects deteriorated. Flight MH17 was downed over Ukraine, costing many Dutch lives. ISIS conquered parts of Syria and Iraq and instituted a reign of terror, setting refugee flows in motion towards Europe, to the benefit of terrorists. Many places are contending with terrorist attacks and threats. And the global balance of power is shifting rapidly.

For these reasons, the government has adopted a new Integrated International Security Strategy that takes a practical, global approach to Dutch security. The IISS is founded on three pillars: preventing, defending and strengthening. ‘Prevention is always better than cure,’ said Mr Blok. ‘Of course a strong international legal order should cut off the supply of oxygen to violence and refugee flows. But when we can’t prevent conflict, we have to be prepared to defend the Netherlands and our allies.’

Counterterrorism and innovative cyber diplomacy are other ways to defend the Netherlands from transnational threats. ‘There’s no such thing as absolute security,’ said the minister. ‘But the government is doing everything possible to keep the Netherlands as safe as possible. Defending our country and our allies is one of the government’s core tasks. Security demands more than just strong armed forces. Diplomacy can also be a powerful tool for crisis prevention. By tackling the root causes and breeding grounds of conflict, we are preventing insecurity around Europe and around our Kingdom.’

Finally, the government is making a concerted effort to strengthen international rules. Developments in digitalisation, world trade and technology present us with opportunities, but also involve challenges. The government intends to tackle challenges such as cyber attacks on critical infrastructure and foreign interference in elections by means of clear international legislation. ‘Security calls for a joint effort,’ said Mr Blok. ‘Not just in the Netherlands, but also with our partners abroad. So we will be working worldwide for the security of the Netherlands.’