In addition to its embassies and consulates, the Kingdom of the Netherlands has sixteen permanent representations to international organisations such as the European Union, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the United Nations. They are known as 'multilateral missions'.
The staff at these missions work with their counterparts from other countries to achieve the objectives of these international organisations while also representing the official views of the Netherlands and promoting Dutch interests. Multilateral missions are headed by ambassadors.
Multilateral tasks are performed in many areas, including:
- political and economic cooperation between the 27 EU member states;
- cooperation in Atlantic and European organisations for international peace and security (NATO, WEU and OSCE);
- worldwide cooperation in fields covered by the United Nations (and its specialised agencies such as FAO, ILO, UNESCO and WHO), the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the International Criminal Court (ICC) ;
- economic and development cooperation in the OECD, the IMF and the World Bank, and UN agencies such as UNDP, UNICEF and UNFPA;
- human rights (in the UN, Council of Europe, ILO, etc.);
- environmental issues (in the EU, OECD, UNDP, etc.);
- energy issues (in the IAEA, etc.);
- prohibition of the possession and use of chemical weapons (OPCW).
Multilateral tasks are also performed on a temporary basis within the framework of special conferences convened for varying periods. In Vienna, for instance, negotiations took place over several years to reduce the armed forces in both Western and Eastern Europe: first in the Conference on Mutual Balanced Force Reduction (MBFR) and later in the Conference on Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE).
The Netherlands has permanent multilateral missions in:
- Bangkok (ESCAP), Thailand;
- Brussels (EU, NATO, WEU), Belgium;
- The Hague (OPCW), the Netherlands;
- Geneva (the Conference on Disarmament, the UN European Office, and other international organisations including UNHCR), Switzerland;
- Madrid (WTO), Spain;
- Nairobi (HABITAT, UNEP), Kenya;
- New York (UN), United States of America;
- Paris (OECD, UNESCO), France;
- Rome (FAO, IFAD, WFP) Italy;
- Strasbourg (Council of Europe), France;
- Vienna (OSCE, UNIDO, IAEA), Austria.