Name

Netherlands

The Netherlands has been an OSCE participating State since June 25, 1973 and Chaired the OSCE in 2003. The Netherlands is a constitutional monarchy located on the North Sea, to the north of Belgium and next to Germany.  Its location as Europe’s traditional trading hub, as well as its highly-developed manufacturing sector and efficient agricultural sector have made it the sixth-largest economy in Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union., NATO and the Council of Europe.  Its population of just under 17 million is 80.7 percent Dutch, 5 percent from other E.U. countries, 2.4 percent Indonesian, 2.2 percent Turkish, 2 percent Moroccan, and 5.6 percent other nationalities.  Just over 50 percent of the population is Christian, 42.1 percent is unaffiliated, 6 percent is Muslim, 0.5 percent is Hindu, 0.2 percent is Buddhist, 0.2 percent are Jewish and 0.2 percent practice folk religions.

The Hague has long been the home of the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, who has had numerous meetings with the Commission on issues ranging from Georgia to issues of security and inclusion for minorities and Roma. 

While the Netherlands was chairing the OSCE in 2003, the Foreign Minister appeared before the Commission in a hearing to discuss issues of security and combating terrorism in the wake of 9/11.

Commissioners and the OSCE have increased attention to xenophobia and racism in the Netherlands over the years following the tragic murder of filmmaker Theo Van Gogh in 2004, which spurred more stringent immigration laws and anti-migrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric and political groupings.

Staff Contact: Mischa Thompson, senior policy advisor

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  • Religious Liberty: The State Church and Minority Faiths

    Samuel G. Wise, Director for International Policy at the US Helsinki Commission, presented the second briefing in a series focusing on religious liberty in the participating states of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. This particular discussion was intended to evaluate the relationship between state churches or traditional religious and freedom of religion for minority faiths in the OSCE region through an analysis of the effects of certain historical legacies on individual states. Witnesses testifying at the briefing – including Father Kishkovsky, Ecumenical Officer of the Orthodox Church in America; Father George Papaioannou, Pastor of St. George Greek Orthodox Church; Gerard Powers, Foreign Policy Advisor for the U.S. Catholic Conference; Lauren Homer, Founder of Law and Liberty Trust; and Lee Boothby, Vice President of the Council on Religious Freedom – focused on the issue of minority and majority in society as it relates to religion and the potential for this issue to result in conflict. The historical origins of these tensions, especially in Eastern Europe, were particularly emphasized. 

  • Religious Liberty in the OSCE: Present and Future

    Speaking on behalf of Congressman Christopher H. Smith and Senator Alfonse M. D’Amato, chairman and co-chairman of the Helsinki Committee, the Committee’s Director for International Policy, Samuel G. Wise, addressed the improvements made by the countries of the OSCE in religious liberty since the demise of communism. Observed deficits in this particular subject were also evaluated, including acts of OSCE governments perpetrating religious intolerance and discrimination against people of faith by passing laws favoring certain religions, turning a blind eye to harassment, and establishing bureaucratic roadblocks to prevent religious minorities from practicing their faith. Each panelist – including Dr. Paul Marshall, Senior Fellow of Political Theory for the Institute for Christian Studies; Dr. Khalid Duran, Senior Fellow for the Institute for International Studies; and Micah Naftalin, National Director for the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews – spoke to the overall factors affecting religious freedom in the OSCE, including: respect for other freedoms such as freedom of speech and religion, ethno-cultural tensions, and the relevance of old prejudices. These ideas were presented in the context of moving towards a more comprehensive respect for religious freedom among OSCE member states in the future.

  • Vienna Review Meeting of the CSCE - Phase III and IV

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  • Justice Overseas

    Human rights within states are crucial to security among states. Prioritizing respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, defending the principles of liberty, and encouraging tolerance within societies must be at the forefront of America's foreign policy agenda. Peace, security, and prosperity cannot be sustained if national governments repress their citizens, stifle their media, or imprison members of the political opposition. Authoritarian regimes become increasingly unstable as citizens chafe under the bonds of persecution and violence, and pose a danger not only to their citizens, but also to neighboring nations. The Helsinki Commission strives to ensure that the protection of human rights and defense of democratic values are central to U.S. foreign policy; that they are applied consistently in U.S. relations with other countries; that violations of Helsinki provisions are given full consideration in U.S. policymaking; and that the United States holds those who repress their citizens accountable for their actions. This includes battling corruption;  protecting the fundamental freedoms of all people, especially those who historically have been persecuted and marginalized; promoting the sustainable management of resources; and balancing national security interests with respect for human rights to achieve long-term positive outcomes rather than short-term gains.

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