Policy theme departments
These departments combine knowledge and expertise in clusters of foreign policy areas, or 'themes', such as security policy, the environment, education, health, and humanitarian aid. The specialist knowledge of the policy theme departments is combined with the local knowledge of the regional departments.
Strategic Policy Unit (ESA)
ESA (Strategic Policy Unit) aims to make Dutch foreign policy more long-term proof, knowledge-based, externally focused and coherent. To this end, ESA identifies important trends and developments, provides strategic analyses and advice to the political and administrative leadership and facilitates strategic thinking at the policy departments and missions. This can be done both on request and on our own initiative. ESA is positioned under the SG and works for all DGs.
In summary, ESA has three core tasks:
- ESA identifies relevant developments and trends;
- ESA advises the political and administrative leadership;
- ESA facilitates policy directorates and posts in strategic and future-oriented thinking.
Security Policy Department (DVB)
DVB is concerned with the themes of counterterrorism, and national and international peace and security in the broadest sense. In these areas, the Department prepares Dutch input in NATO, the European Union, the IAEA, the Geneva disarmament conference, the United Nations, the OSCE and the OPCW. Policy is also formed by working together with other countries.
- Conflict Prevention, Peace Operations and Military and Civil Cooperation Division (DVB/CV)
- Non-Proliferation, Disarmament, Arms Control and Export Control Policy Division (DVB/NW)
- Security and Defence Policy Division (DVB/VD)
- Counterterrorism and National Security Division (DVB/TN)
Political Affairs Section (BPZ)
BPZ supports the Director-General for Political Affairs in his role as political adviser to the Ministry's political leaders on day-to-day political issues and political relations with other countries. BPZ also coordinates the Dutch position on issues in the area of the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP).
Sustainable Economic Development Department (DDE)
DDE promotes sustainable and inclusive economic growth in developing countries by helping to improve the business climate and stimulating enterprise. It also enhances sustainable trade with developing countries and supports the construction of good roads, ports and power supply systems. Trade unions, employers’ organisations and farmers’ cooperatives in developing countries receive support to improve the services they provide to their members. DDE helps local authorities to collect taxes effectively and transparently. It also provides finance for businesses in developing countries and supports Dutch companies that produce innovative solutions to local challenges.
Social Development Department (DSO)
DSO helps develop policy and strategies for fighting poverty at both the bilateral and multilateral level. Its goals include giving people in low- and middle-income countries access to basic social services, promoting gender equality, and strengthening civil society. It also puts themes such as children, parents, HIV/AIDS, gender, and institutional development on the agendas of other departments and missions, as well as on the broader international agenda.
DSO consists of two divisions and one taskforce:
Health and Aids Division (DSO/GA)
The Health and Aids Division is responsible for the policy on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), including HIV/aids and related health systems. SRHR is one of the four priorities of the Dutch development policy. In May 2012, a letter was sent to Parliament which sets out ‘the policy on SRHR, including HIV/aids’, with the goals for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.Together with the Embassies in eight partner-countries, we focus on four result areas:
- Improved access to medication
- Improved sexual and reproductive health
- More respect for sexual and reproductive health
- More knowledge and freedom of choice about sexuality for youth
Through their SRHR policy, DSO/GA contributes to SDG 3 (ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages) and SDG 5 (achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls).
The Civil Society Division
This division focuses on the role and importance of civil society organisations in development. The policy in this area is based on the principle that a diverse and pluralist civil society is crucial for sustainable and inclusive development.
In 2016, implementation began of the new policy framework ‘Dialogue and Dissent’ for partnerships with civil society organisations. Its overall goal is to strengthen civil society organisations in low- and lower-middle-income countries in their role as advocates and lobbyists. In line with the shift in focus from direct poverty reduction to tackling the structural causes of poverty and inequality, the policy framework shapes the changing roles of civil society organisations in both those countries and the Netherlands.
- 25 Strategic Partnerships - consortia of Dutch and Southern development organisations will develop the lobbying and advocacy capacity of civil society organisations in low- and lower-middle-income countries.
- Voice - This fund was set up to strengthen the voice of the most marginalised groups. Hence its slogan 'Nothing about us without us'. The way the fund is set up reflects the Dutch government's recognition that regular aid programmes often insufficiently reach the most vulnerable groups, in particular those who are excluded because of disability, ethnic origin, religion, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation or gender.
- Accountability Fund - support through Embassies to local CSOS. This approach recognises the increased importance of civil society organisations in these countries and their growing capacity to achieve results independently
Taskforce Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (TFVG)
The Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Taskforce constitutes an integral component of Dutch foreign policy. Globally, the majority of the 1.2 billion people living in extreme poverty are women, and millions of women and girls are victims of physical and sexual violence or other forms of discrimination. Women are still largely excluded from processes to resolve conflicts and to shape the future of societies. As such, their role as agents for change is obscured. Alarmingly, resistance to equal rights for women, in particular their right to decide about their sexuality and whether or not to have children, is growing in many places. The ideal of equality enshrined in international agreements has to be continuously defended. The Netherlands seeks to help create a world in which men and women have equal rights and opportunities.
The Dutch commitment to improving the position of women is encapsulated in the following four goals:
- prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls;
- a fair share in political and decision-making power;
- economic empowerment and self-reliance;
- a fair share in conflict-resolution, peacebuilding and reconstruction.
The Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Taskforce contributes with it work to SDG 5: achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
International Cultural Policy Unit (ICE)
Together with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, ICE is responsible for international cultural policy. Its director is also the Netherlands' Ambassador for International Cultural Cooperation. International cultural policy aims to strengthen the Netherlands' international cultural profile and its cultural ties with certain countries and regions.
Consular Affairs and Visa Policy Department (DCV)
Wherever you go in the world, you’re likely to bump into someone Dutch. So the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is available 24/7 to assist Dutch nationals around the world.
The Consular Affairs and Visa Policy Department (DCV) offers citizens, businesses and government high-quality consular services. It is also responsible for visa policy and visa-related services. DCV serves as a safety net for Dutch interests abroad and is the first point of contact for nationals of other countries wanting to come to the Netherlands for personal or business reasons. It can draw on a global network of missions and a unique body of knowledge and diplomatic expertise. DCV constantly looks ahead to the future and responds to new developments. It delivers consular services quickly and conscientiously, using modern tools. This enables it to promote the interests of the Netherlands and of Dutch nationals abroad in an effective way. It embraces the opportunities that come from working with external parties, both national and international, public and private.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is ‘Always connected’. DCV’s 24/7 BZ Contact Centre in The Hague can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on +31 247 247 247. If you phone from abroad you will pay the local call rates. Our staff can advise you on a range of matters, such as passports, visas and document legalisation. They can also help in emergency situations abroad, for example if a Dutch national is admitted to hospital, dies suddenly, is arrested or goes missing. By answering all these questions through the central 24/7 BZ Contact Centre in The Hague, people can be helped faster and more effectively.
DCV also issues travel advice. Go online to check the latest advice on any country you plan to travel to, so you’ll know beforehand how safe it is to visit. Download the 24/7 BZ Travel app to keep track of the situation while you are travelling. And follow the @247BZ X account for the latest updates.
Department for Stabilisation and Humanitarian Aid (DSH)
The Department for Stabilisation and Humanitarian Aid (DSH) promotes stability: we support humanitarian assistance and reconstruction and promote peace and security, rule of law and good governance; before, during and after crisis situations.
The Netherlands have an interest in a stable world with fewer conflicts and better trade possibilities. We try to establish such an environment through humanitarian aid, reconstruction programmes and improvement of security, rule of law and governance. We focus on crisis situations, (post) conflict countries and fragile states and apply a context specific and flexible approach, which is conflict- and gender sensitive. Furthermore, we take an integrated approach in addressing conflict situations, combining security, development and diplomatic efforts into one coherent package. We look for solutions with our partners, within and outside government, on a national and international level. The Netherlands is a lead nation in applying such an integrated approach. And we're proud of that. But we are only satisfied when human security and dignity visibly improve as a result of our efforts.
Department of International Trade Policy and Economic Governance (IMH)
IMH is part of the Directorate-General for Foreign Economic Relations (DGBEB). The IMH department is comprised of three clusters, each of which contributes to an open world economy, sustainable globalization, and the strong competitive position of the Netherlands
The cluster Trade- and Investment Agreements and Market Access (HIAM) is responsible for the negotiations of free trade agreements, the WTO, and the autonomous trade policy of the EU. HIAM also takes stock of and looks after Dutch interests in the various bodies in Brussels and Geneva.
The cluster International Corporate Social Responsibility (IMVO) stimulates corporate social responsibility by facilitating the adoption of (recognized) standards of behavior for doing business. As a network partner in international entrepreneurship, IMVO also stimulates public-private contributions to the realization of development- and sustainability goals.
Finally, the cluster Export Control and Strategic Goods (ESG) is concerned with supervising the export of strategic goods, predominantly goods for dual-use. The activities of ESG are geared towards creating chances for innovative and high-tech companies and contributing to a safer world.
Inclusive Green Growth Department
A healthy planet benefits the well-being and welfare of all people – rich and poor, men and women – now and in the future. The Inclusive Green Growth Department (IGG) works hard to ensure universal access to and wise use of natural resources. IGG is responsible for Dutch foreign policy on the following themes, organised in four thematic groups:
- food security
- energy, raw materials and the polar regions
IGG addresses the interests of both developing countries and the Netherlands. Our approach combines political and strategic knowledge and a commitment to the four key themes with various funding instruments. The Global Goals for Sustainable Development serve as focal points for new policy. Cooperation with the private sector, civil society and knowledge institutions is vital in our work.
The four themes are closely linked, so IGG follows an integrated approach as far as possible. The support section (strategy & coordination team) plays an important role in connecting the thematic groups and steering them towards effective policy. In addition, IGG has project groups such as Landscape Approach and Urban Development, in which all the thematic groups are represented.
IGG also has a secretariat and control unit, which are vital to its daily running. The director of IGG also acts as Ambassador for Sustainable Development and Ambassador for the Arctic. In addition, IGG works closely with the Special Envoy for Climate Change (Marcel Beukeboom) and the Special Envoy for International Water Affairs (Henk Ovink).