Tasks and responsibilities
The Permanent Mission's main tasks are to promote and clarify the position of The Netherlands in the UN, report to the authorities in The Hague and give advice on developments at the UN. The position of the Netherlands on various subjects is increasingly being finalised in the framework of the European Union. However, the Mission has countless contacts with other member states of the UN, the UN-secretariat and UN-organisations, and operates on an individual basis (including through the delivery of statements) in cases where European coordination is not foreseen. The Netherlands held the Presidency of the European Union during the second half of 2004. Its previous Presidency took place during the first half of 1997.
Diplomats of the Mission participate in debates and negotiations in the General Assembly, ECOSOC and subsidiary bodies of which it is a member or active observer, in UN conferences and in other bodies such as UNDP, UNFPA or UNICEF. During its membership of the Security Council the Netherlands actively participated in the Council's discussions on political crises. The website contains a separate list of current Dutch memberships of UN bodies.
The Mission maintains contacts with ngo's, universities and other institutions with a clear interest in the UN's work. The Mission also regularly provides briefings to visiting students and other groups. Periodically the Mission initiates thematic discussions or seminars on new or disputed issues with representatives and experts from within and outside the UN-community. Recent examples were seminars on the relationship between the Security Council and ECOSOC, on the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), on revitalizing the General Assembly and on the report of the High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change.
The Permanent Mission has four sections:
The political section of the Mission covers both the political areas as well as the legal and financial affairs of the UN. Six diplomats work in this section. Political activities of the Mission focus primarily on issues of peace and security. Although currently not a member of the Security Council, the Netherlands closely follows developments in and around the Council. Priorities are the situations in North Africa and the Middle East, Sudan and Afghanistan.
There is a close cooperation with the military section, especially on issues like peacekeeping and security sector reform. The political affairs section also deals with disarmament matters in the First Committee of the General Assembly, although the focus of much of the UN disarmament debate is in Geneva, Vienna (IAEA) and The Hague (OPCW) and is being covered by Dutch Permanent Missions in those cities.
On certain issues, the political section works closely with both the military section and the economic and social section, in view of the growing recognition of the links between political, military and social and economic issues. We call this the 3D-approach. The D's stand for Diplomacy, Defense and Development. The Netherlands believes that complex topics like peacebuidling can only be dealt with in a coherent manner, which is the 3D-approach.
Besides disarmament matters, the political section is also dealing other political issues in the Fourth Committee of the General Assembly. The Fourth Committee spends most of its time on issues related to the Middle East Peace Proces.
The financial expert represents The Netherlands in all administrative, budgetary and financial matters within the UN, most importantly in the Fifth Committee of the General Assembly. On the financial side this involves not only the regular budget of the UN and the Capital Master Plan (the restauration of the UN HQ), but also the financing of UN peacekeeping operations and financing of its program activities. The expert also monitors UN management and personnel matters (e.g. salaries, vacancies and Dutch nationals at the UN).
The legal expert covers all legal matters within the UN, ranging from the work of the Sixth Committee of the General Assembly to issues such as law of the sea, the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Tribunals and legal measures to eliminate international terrorism. The legal expert is also involved in following the implementation and monitoring of sanctions.
Apart from that, there are various issues in the Plenary of the General Assembly that we pay attention to, like the Responsibility to Protect (R2P), Protection of Civilians, strengthening the rule of law and Security Council Reform.
The head of the political section is the spokesperson of the mission.
Economic and Social Section
This section, consisting of 5 diplomats, handles all economic, social, humanitarian and human rights issues. This issues are mostly discussed in the General Assembly, in the ECOSOC and in ECOSOC's subsidiary bodies. It also covers the Funds and Programmes located in New York, such as UNDP, UNFPA, UN-Women, UNICEF and UNCDF.
Special emphasis is placed on promoting the Millennium Development Goals and to ensure implementation of the agreements of the major UN Conferences in the development areas, such as those on Financing for Development (Monterrey) and Sustainable Development (Johannesburg). Additionally, the Netherlands attaches great importance to the defense and promotion of human rights. It plays an active role within the Human Rights Council in Geneva and the Third Committee of the General Assembly in New York, and makes an effort to integrate human rights into all UN activities.
Regarding its work on humanitarian affairs, this section section maintains close contacts with the Office of the Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
The Military Section consists of one military advisor and one deputy military advisor. The section advises on all military and defense matters and is closely involved in the Mission's handling of peacekeeping issues and matters of de-mining.
The section maintains contacts with the UN Secretariat on peacekeeping operations, including the Netherlands involvement in those operations, as well as with other bodies of the UN-system, such as the UN Office for Project Services.
The military advisor participates in meetings of troop-contributing countries, represents the Netherlands in the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations, and is a member of the Mine Action Support Group.
This section, with a staff of 13, handles all administrative and logistical requirements of the Mission, its staff and visitors, including ministers and parliamentarians. Its activities cover financial and personnel matters, housing, security, communication issues, transportation, archives, and other support services.