The Netherlands adopted its fourth National Action Plan (NAP) for the period 2021-2025. The fourth NAP states that its main vision is “a world of sustainable peace, security and development for all, where equal participation of women and girls is self-evident.” It has five strategic outcomes, which correlate to the four main pillars of the WPS agenda and also prioritize gender mainstreaming. The fourth Dutch National Action Plan was developed through a consultative process with a range of actors, including ministries such as the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Defence, Justice and Security, and Education, Science, and Culture, and the police service. Additionally, over 60 civil society organisations participated. All of these actors together are part of the Dutch NAP partnership. The fourth NAP is preceded by three others, for the periods 2016-2019, 2012-2015, and 2008-2011.
The second, third, and fourth NAPs both have standalone sections that provide an overview of the implementation of the previous action plans as well as “lessons learned” for the revised NAP. The third NAP, for instance, states that the Policy and Operations Evaluation Department (IOB) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the body responsible body for evaluating the implementation of the NAP, found out that “the NAPs have not provided guidance … on how to translate the resolution’s objectives into actions that are responsive to contextual gender realities” (p. 21). As such, the third NAP aims to strengthen its gender-specific analysis as well as monitoring and evaluation mechanism. All four NAPs approach the implementation of the WPS agenda mostly internationally. The first three NAPs approach disarmament through the narrow framework of disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) efforts, and the fourth NAP has an objective of implementing Article 7.4 of the Arms Trade Treaty.
The Netherlands does not have a recent history of conflict, but plays a large role in international peacekeeping and humanitarian efforts. The Netherlands is a contributing donor to the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund, a global partnership that works to empower women in conflict zones and humanitarian crises. The Netherlands is also a partner of the Call to Action on Protection from Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies, a multi-stakeholder initiative that aims to mitigate and provide accountability for gender-based violence in humanitarian emergencies.
In 2016, the Dutch parliament passed a bill to halt arms exports to Saudi Arabia, over concerns about violations of humanitarian law in Yemen. In 2019, the Netherlands was among the top 15 arms exporters in the world.
At the multilateral level, the Netherlands most recently served as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for a one-year term in 2017, splitting the ordinarily two-year term with Italy due to a deadlocked election result.
Global Gender Gap Index 2020
38 out of 153
Arms Trade Treaty Ratified
Military expenditure (2019)
$12 billion USD
Explore the Netherlands' National Action Plan
The fourth Dutch National Action Plan was developed through a consultative process with a range of actors, including ministries such as the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Defence, Justice and Security, and Education, Science, and Culture, and the police service. Additionally, over 60 civil society organisations participated. All of these actors together are part of the Dutch NAP partnership. The full list of NAP partners is available here.
All partners involved in the NAP have a responsibility to report on its implementation. Government bodies “have an institutional obligation to report to the UN on their contribution to implementing Resolution 1325, the 10 successive WPS resolutions and CEDAW, as well as to the EU on the EU Action Plan on WPS. They are also responsible for annual reports to the House of Representatives.” Civil society organizations also have an M&E obligation to provide insight into their implementation efforts.
The NAP will be implemented from 2021 to 2025.
The NAP states that its main vision is “a world of sustainable peace, security and development for all, where equal participation of women and girls is self-evident.”
It has five strategic outcomes, which correlate to the four main pillars of the WPS agenda and also prioritize gender mainstreaming. These are:
(1) Participation: more women hold leadership positions, and women participate equally and meaningfully in decision-making processes at every level in the interests of peace and security, including conflict prevention and resolution, peacebuilding, protection, relief, reconstruction and recovery.
(2) Prevention: conflict prevention and the prevention of violent extremism, including of related violence against women and girls, is based on the human rights approach and starts from the principle of human security. Prevention policy and its implementation are conflict-sensitive, gender-sensitive, gender-responsive and gender-transformative.
(3) Protection: women and girls, as well as men and boys, in and from conflict situations, are protected against all forms of conflict-related violence, including sexual and gender-based violence. Their rights are safeguarded and enforceable.
(4) Relief, reconstruction and recovery: relief, reconstruction and recovery meet the needs and contribute to the empowerment and human security of women and girls.
(5) WPS mainstreaming: a gender lens is applied to every reorganisation, improvement, development and evaluation of analysis, policy and policy implementation with regard to peace and security.
There are a series of sub-outcomes in the NAP which indicate various activities and priorities under the five strategic outcomes.
Under objective one of participation, for example, there is a sub-outcome 1.2 which will ensure that “Women’s and diaspora organisations, human rights defenders and peace builders working for women’s rights and gender equality in conflict and post-conflict countries are supported in their efforts to participate meaningfully in peace and security processes.” Under objective four of relief, reconstruction, and recovery, sub-outcome 4.2 specifically highlights that the Netherlands will work so that “Women’s and girls’ socioeconomic position is improved both inside and outside of humanitarian and fragile situations.”
There are numerous indicators in the NAP which correlate to the strategic outcomes. These are both qualitative and quantitative, incorporating various methods to assess progress towards the NAP. They are correlated with responsible actors and modes of implementation.
Under Strategic outcome 1 on participation, examples of indicators are:
- Examples of women reporting improved meaningful participation in decisionmaking (through self-assessments and storytelling)
- # of times that civil society organisations (CSOs) or community leaders have succeeded in creating space for CSO demands and positions on women’s meaningful and equal participation and leadership in conflict prevention, peacebuilding and state-building, and protecting women’s and girls’ rights in crisis, conflict and post-conflict situations, through agenda setting, influence on debates and/or movement-building
- # of Dutch government initiatives to engage, support and protect women’s rights organisations (WROs), women human rights defenders (WHRDs) and peace builders in country analysis and peace processes
The fourth Dutch NAP has a monitoring, evaluation, accountability, and learning framework (pg 40). Within the NAP it states that this framework will be improved and refined (if necessary) over the course of implementation from 2021-2025.
The framework states that all partners are jointly responsible for implementation, and have made commitments to one or more outcomes/sub-outcomes. There will be annual reporting, for which there is joint responsibility. This annual reporting will help strengthen learning for better results. The NAP states that there will be bi-annual events, learning events, country and thematic groups, webinars, newsletters, a website, and a Twitter account.
To help facilitate M&E, there are baseline 2020 figures for many of the indicators of the NAP; where these do not exist there will be reporting in 2021. The NAP will attempt to disaggregate data.
There will be an independent evaluation of the NAP in 2025.
Although a specific figure for a budget is not indicated in the NAP, a standalone WPS budget does exist and is referenced in the NAP, as well as prior impacts of earmarked financing. There are several indicators that are specifically related to financing in terms of evaluating the NAP. These include:
- Total Dutch expenditure on the WPS agenda, including both the stand-alone WPS
- budget and WPS mainstreaming
- Proportion of funding allocated to CSOs that has been spent on WPS in conflict affected
The international context of the NAP links weapons to women’s insecurity, stating that “Increased militarisation, the steady spread of small arms and light weapons, the development of new weapons and the lack of a gender lens in the security and justice sector have for decades now been exacerbating conflicts, gender inequality and conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence” (pg. 60). The Arms Trade Treaty is listed (pg. 9) one of the international obligations that have strengthened commitment to the WPS agenda.
One area of action for the NAP will be the implementation of article 7.4 of the Arms Trade Treaty, with regards to the potential impacts of the Dutch arms trade on GBV (pg. 27). The NAP states that the Netherlands will “monitor where Dutch arms export or transit leads to an increased risk of sexual and gender-based violence. We also work to gather and publish sex and age disaggregated data (SADD) as part of national crime and health statistics, including data on victims of armed violence and conflicts. Moreover, in line with the outcomes of the fifth Conference of State Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty (2019), we support research that improves our understanding of the gendered impact of armed violence in the context of the ATT.” (pg. 28)
The third NAP was created on the basis of lessons learned from the previous two NAPs where civil society and grass root actors gained increasingly active roles in development and implementation.
The third NAP emphasizes the role of inclusive partnerships in the development and implementation of the NAP, stating that ‘While respecting each other’s roles and mandates, we believe that coordination and cooperation between government, knowledge institutions and civil society are mutually beneficial. The inclusive and participatory character of this plan is unique and in itself an excellent illustration of our commitment to realising our shared ambitions’.
WILPF Netherlands was not involved in the development of the NAP.
The development of the third NAP was created through a multi partnership approach where the Government bodies of the Netherlands cooperated with civil society, UN bodies and the focus countries in drafting a revised NAP based on lessons learned from the previous two NAPs.
The overall objective of the third NAP and the specific goals pertaining to this, has been translated into a set of outputs. Each activity will be carried out in several focus countries with the aim of producing an output which contributes to the overall objective of the NAP. The activities are divided into three types of interventions; (1) knowledge sharing, (2) advocacy and (3) joint programming. The focus countries are: Afghanistan, Colombia, The DRC, Iraq, Libya, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
Civil society organisations are noted, in collaboration with other actors, as the ‘relevant signatory’ responsible for carrying out the activity to obtain the output corresponding with the activity. For example, the activity ‘Inform government actors in the Netherlands and the focus countries about context-specific best practices and barriers to women’s meaningful participation’ has ‘Civil society organisations (CSOs), knowledge institutions and their local CSO partners’ as the relevant signatories for implementation.
The third NAP describes the signatories from civil society as ‘development, peace, human rights and diaspora organisations that operate at local, regional, national and international level. They are connected with civil society all over the world and have a long tradition of international solidarity in defence of the Women, Peace and Security agenda’. The signatories and external actors will meet at every two months in context-specific forums where the signatories share perspectives on the country situation while working with partner networks, embassies and staff in the region to develop a strategic plan with specific, quantifiable activities. It is also noted, that each signatory will publish an individual pledge on this Action Plan, setting out the organisation’s vision.
The third NAP notes the distinct responsibilities of the Dutch Government in carrying out concrete activities in line with the Women, Peace and Security strategy under the UN resolutions pertaining to the WPS agenda.
The NAP for instance highlights the government's obligation ‘to ensure that gender is mainstreamed in its peace and security policies, and should ensure that its own policy frameworks recognise women’s special needs in conflict-affected environments and contribute to women’s equal participation in peace and security processes’.
Specifically, the Police and the Ministry of Defence address gender through Security Sector Reform training courses and programmes which are carried out in close cooperation with civil society. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will also allocate an annual budget for the implementation for the third National Action Plan so the activities have the necessary resources for implementation.
NAP Monitoring and Evaluation
The monitoring of the third NAP will be done through a context-specific monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system based on specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely (SMART) indicators where the Netherlands meet with the focus countries to exchange experiences and knowledge on the implementation of the NAP. The signatories involved with the development and implementation of the NAP will also be part of this process. The NAP has two coordinating partners: the Dutch Gender Platform WO=MEN and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which will design the M&E system based on the developed. country strategies.
The general timeframe for the NAP is 2016-2019.
The overall objective of the third NAP is ‘to contribute to an enabling environment for women's participation and empowerment in conflict and post-conflict environments, so they can meaningfully participate in conflict prevention, resolution, peacebuilding, protection, relief and recovery’
To help create this enabling environment, the following three specific goals has been formulated in the NAP:
- Better protect women and girls in conflict and post-conflict situations from violence and violations of their rights;
- Subvert harmful underlying gender norms, which are obstacles to sustainable peace;
- Ensure that women have equal leverage in conflict prevention and resolution, peacebuilding, relief and recovery at all levels, and that their efforts are acknowledged and supported.
The overall objective has furthermore been broken down into 3 specific objectives which have corresponding activities in ensuring their implementation.
- Enhanced Participation
- Decrease of harmful gender roles
- Equal leverage in conflict prevention, resolution, peacebuilding, relief and recovery
The 3 specific goals in achieving the overall objective of the third NAP, have all been given corresponding expected outputs and relevant signatories assigned to ensure that they are implemented. They furthermore have a list of specified activities to be carried out in the implementation.
For instance, the first goal to ‘Better protect women and girls in conflict and post-conflict situations from violence and violations of their rights’ has the following two outputs:
- Increased capacities, skills, knowledge and resources for meaningful participation by women in security and justice sector development
- Increased understanding of gender-based violence and ways of protecting women from it
The second output has been given the following activities:
- Conduct context-specific research on gender-based violence
- Share knowledge on gender-based violence with policymakers
- Exchange knowledge on context-specific gender-based violence and ways of protecting women from it
- Support women human rights defenders (WHRD)
- Organise and facilitate public events in the Netherlands and focus countries on conflict-related and context-specific gender based violence and ways of protecting women from it
- Conduct online campaigns in the focus countries on gender based violence and ways of protecting women from it
Each of the activities have assigned relevant signatories ranging from the Dutch civil society organisations and their local CSO partners to the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Security and Justice as well as the Dutch Police.
The context-specific monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system will be based on ‘on specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely (SMART) indicators’ which include:
- The number of meetings conducted in the Netherlands and focus countries
- The exchange of information
- The number of joint training courses conducted by the signatories; the number of organisations involved in developing the proposals, and their contribution to implementing final projects.
Monitoring and Evaluation
The monitoring of the third NAP will be done through a context-specific monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system based on specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely (SMART) indicators where the Netherlands meet with the focus countries to exchange experiences and knowledge on the implementation of the NAP. The signatories involved with the development and implementation of the NAP will also be part of this process. The NAP has two coordinating partners: the Dutch Gender Platform WO=MEN and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which will design the M&E system based on the developed country strategies.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs allocated a budget of €4 million a year for the period 2012–2015 for the implementation of the second NAP to support the joint projects with signatories in each focus country. The second NAP also noted that ‘organisations that signed up for this task received a modest budget for activities covered by the second Action Plan’. The third NAP states that The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will allocate an annual budget for the implementation of the third National Action Plan but does not further specify the allocation of funds for the NAP implementation.
To ensure greater participation by women in the security sector theres is a need for a fundamental shift in perceptions on peace processes and gender roles, notes the third NAP. It is furthermore stated, that ‘many approaches to disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration reaffirm gender stereotypes and confirm the perception of women as victims, potentially undermining the empowering leadership roles that women can play and reducing the space for men to reconsider the gender norms that prescribe certain behaviour’.