Netherlands

The Netherlands adopted its most recent National Action Plan (NAP) for the period 2021-2025. Analysis is forthcoming.

The fourth NAP is preceded by three others, for the periods 2016-2019, 2012-2015, and 2008-2011. The 2016-2019 NAP was developed collaboratively by various Dutch government agencies and over fifty civil society organizations, and underscores that the implementation of the Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) agenda is a partnership between government entities, civil society organizations, and knowledge institutions. The NAP states that the overall objective of the action plan 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” (p. 23). In line with this goal, the NAP specifically aims to address enhanced protection; decrease of harmful gender norms; and equal leverage in conflict prevention, resolution peacebuilding, and relief and recovery through information sharing, programs, and advocacy. The NAP approaches the implementation of the Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) agenda mostly internationally, identifying eight focus countries in which to help implement WPS actions: Afghanistan, Colombia, the DRC, Iraq, Libya, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. While the NAP indicates that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will allocate an annual budget for the implementation of the NAP, the document itself does not give further details on an estimated budget. 

The second and third 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 three NAPs approach the implementation of the WPS agenda mostly internationally, with the second and third NAPs specifically identifying focus countries in which to help implement WPS actions. While the second NAP identifies six countries (Afghanistan, Burundi, Colombia, the DRC, South Sudan and Sudan) as its countries of focus, the third NAP expands this list to eight countries (Afghanistan, Colombia, DRC, Iraq, Libya, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen). All three NAPs approach disarmament through the narrow framework of disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) efforts, without mentioning arms control or non-proliferation measures. 

The Netherlands does not have a recent history of conflict, but plays an important 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.   

CEDAW

1991

Global Gender Gap Index 2020

38 out of 153

Arms Trade Treaty Ratified

2014

Military expenditure (2019)

$12 billion USD

Explore the Netherlands' National Action Plan

  • Actors
  • Timeframe
  • Objectives
  • Action/Activities
  • Indicators
  • M&E
  • Budget
  • Disarmament

NAP Development

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.

NAP Implementation

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 third NAP is from 2016 to 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.

There are not specific indicators listed in the NAP, however 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.

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’.

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