Why the Kingdom of the Netherlands concludes treaties

The Kingdom of the Netherlands concludes treaties as a way of making agreements with other states, or with international organisations. Treaties are a way of ensuring that parties actually do what they have agreed.

Bilateral and multilateral treaties

A bilateral treaty is binding between the Kingdom of the Netherlands and one other party. A multilateral treaty is concluded by the Kingdom of the Netherlands and a number of other parties. The other parties may be other states, or even international organisations, such as the United Nations.

Subjects covered by treaties

Treaties often concern subjects of an international nature that are difficult for states to tackle alone, for example:

  • human rights. The European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (the ECHR) is one of the best known treaties in this area. Originally drawn up in 1950, it has frequently been added to since then. Its provisions include a ban on the death penalty. The Dutch courts are required to review the compatibility of all legislation with the ECHR;
  • the environment. The Kyoto Protocol is a well known example of a treaty concerning the environment. In 1997, industrialised countries throughout the world agreed to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. The protocol stipulates that by 2020 emissions must fall by an average of 5.2% compared with 1990 levels. The Netherlands is obliged to achieve a 6% reduction;
  • criminal justice. The Kingdom of the Netherlands has bilateral treaties with many other countries in this area, concerning for example the extradition of persons suspected of criminal offences;
  • free movement of persons and goods. The Schengen Agreement is a well known multilateral treaty concerning free movement. Thanks to Schengen, passport checks have been abolished at the national borders between most countries in Europe. Most European Union (EU) member states are party to the Schengen Agreement, with the exception of the United Kingdom and Ireland. Outside the EU, Switzerland and Norway are also party to Schengen.

States and international organisations have also concluded treaties concerning tax, aviation, road transport and a wide variety of other subjects. The Kingdom of the Netherlands concludes new treaties on a regular basis, sometimes several per month.

Information on treaties

Information on treaties can be found at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Treaty Database.