Along with other countries in the international community, the Netherlands helps former conflict zones to establish a peaceful and safe society, for example by reducing social inequality and improving security.
Reconstruction driven by the local population
When wars end, the affected areas are often left devastated. There are large numbers of refugees, wounded and trauma victims. Reconstruction can only succeed if it is initiated by the local population. They should have a significant say in how funding is allocated.
It may take years for a country to show the first signs of recovery. Effective coordination between donor countries and aid organisations is vital. There should also be a focus on the region as a whole, so that reconstruction efforts target not only the conflict zone itself but also the surrounding countries.
Reducing poverty in former conflict zones
Poverty is often a factor in conflicts. So sustainably reducing poverty in former war zones is a significant way of resolving and preventing conflict. However, poverty is rarely the immediate cause of war. There are usually other contributory factors that breed conflict from poverty, like social inequality or weak governance.
The Netherlands seeks to reduce social inequality by funding projects and advising foreign governments on how to develop national norms and rules. In Guatemala for example, land rights for indigenous people and farmers were made a precondition of the peace agreement. The Netherlands helped by setting up land registries in two Guatemalan provinces.
Boosting security in poor countries
Poor countries regularly end up in a downward spiral of violent conflicts, a poorly functioning economy and political instability. They lack the financial resources needed to make substantive improvements to their security sector. As a result, they are caught in a vicious circle of poverty and weak security, known as the 'poverty-security trap'.
To improve security, it is vital to address problems within the organisations that are responsible for it at national level – the army, the police and the judiciary. They may be inclined to promote their own interests rather than those of the people.
The first step is to ensure that these institutions act on behalf of the nation’s citizens and observe the rule of law. To this end, the leaders of the army, police and judiciary must lay aside their own interests. However, reforms of this kind are often difficult to implement.
With this in mind, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Netherlands Institute of International Relations Clingendael have jointly developed an analysis model that can help shape cooperation in the security sector. The model is outlined in the publication Enhancing Democratic Governance of the Security Sector: An International Assessment Framework.
Advice and support for the police and judiciary in other countries
The Netherlands gives advice and support to the police and judiciary in various countries. Examples include the following projects:
- The Dutch Police Institute has trained 100 instructors, who in turn have trained over 1,000 Palestinian police officers. The training includes the introduction of techniques for maintaining public order with the minimum of force.
- The Netherlands is supporting efforts to strengthen the public prosecution service in Uganda. The aim is not only to reduce crime, but also to improve living conditions in overcrowded prisons and reduce the incidence of violence against women.
Through the Stability Fund, the Netherlands helps finance activities that promote stability and safety in society, such as demining operations, demobilising former combatants, providing advisory services and supporting armed forces and police forces.