International legal organisations

The Netherlands has a tradition of placing strong emphasis on the development of international law. Promoting the development of the international legal order is a permanent objective of Dutch foreign policy under article 90 of the Constitution. 

The Netherlands plays a special role as host to a large number of international legal bodies, including the International Criminal Court and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. This has earned it the title of international legal capital of the world.

In addition to various courts and tribunals, The Hague hosts the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which was established by the UN in 1993 to oversee compliance with the ban on chemical weapons and monitor their dismantling.

International Criminal Court

The Netherlands is the host State for the International Criminal Court. The ICC prosecutes individuals charged with the most egregious offences: war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
The Dutch government considers hosting the International Criminal Court a fitting way to meet its constitutional obligation to promote the international legal order. The Netherlands and the other founding nations believe the ICC enriches the international legal order.

Hosting the ICC is a huge responsibility, but not an exclusive one. All the States Parties have a responsibility to ensure that the ICC functions properly and, of course, make a proportionate financial contribution.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (United Nations and International Financial Institutions Department, Political and Legal Affairs Division) coordinates the Dutch authorities’ ICC-related activities, working closely with other foreign ministry departments, with the Ministries of Justice and Housing, Spatial Planning & the Environment (Government Buildings Agency) and with the Municipality of The Hague.

Assistance with ratification and implementation of the Rome Statute
The Netherlands signed the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC on 18 July 1998 and ratified it on 17 July 2001. The Netherlands has the same responsibilities as the other states parties to the Statute and is under an obligation to implement its provisions in national legislation. Over the past few years, the Netherlands has supported numerous initiatives to help states adopt the Rome Statute. Thanks in part to the Netherlands’ efforts, the requisite 60th instrument of ratification was deposited on 11 April 2002. The Statute thus came into effect on 1 July 2002, which was much earlier than expected –  less than four years after the Diplomatic Conference in Rome.

Because universal acceptance is of crucial importance to the Court’s legitimacy, the Netherlands believes that a permanent campaign to persuade states to accede to the Statute is necessary. In accordance with Dutch government policy, the EU Common Position and the EU Action Plan, the Netherlands will continue its efforts, where possible in concert with other countries, to achieve the widest possible ratification, acceptance or approval of or accession to the Statute, as well as the broadest possible implementation of its provisions.