Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the UN, United States

Strengthening UN efforts on prevention of, protection against and prosecution for violence

New York, 2 October 2014

STATEMENT BY H.E. Karel J.G. van Oosterom Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations on the occasion of the commemoration of the 
International Day of Non-Violence

Thank you Mr. President; let me extend my deep appreciation for the Government of India for organising this important event with this distinguished panel of speakers.

Importance of non-violence and the UN

The importance of non-violence is enshrined in our Charter of the United Nations.

Let me quote some passages from the pre-amble of the Charter:

“We the peoples of the United Nations, determined (…) to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours, and to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security and to ensure (…) that armed force shall not be used”

Obviously a large gap exists between on the one hand our common ambitions as defined in the Charter and on the other the world we see around us. The conflicts and the victims of violence in Syria, Iraq, Gaza, South Sudan are but a few examples. 

To bridge this gap, to realize our common ambitions, we should enhance our joint efforts at the UN in three fields: prevention, protection and prosecution.

(Prevention of violence)

As to prevention of violence, states should make more use of the possibilities of the Charter for peaceful settlement of conflicts as foreseen in art 33: negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, regional arrangements or other peaceful means of their own choice.  

In particular let me highlight the possibilities of both the International Court of Justice and the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague for peaceful settlement of conflicts. In this context, also the work of Department of Political Affairs DPA must be mentioned as to mediation. The Netherlands supports its important work and is committed to continue this support.

On a national level, building peaceful societies is directly related to the non- use of violence. The Netherlands therefore welcomes the inclusion on peaceful and inclusive societies and a number of specific targets on eliminating and reducing violence in the report of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals. During next year’s Summit on the Post 2015 Development Agenda, let us make sure that these elements will be included. 

(Protection against violence)

As to enhanced protection against violence, we must do more to make sure that current shortfalls of peacekeeping operations are met. Peacekeeping operations cannot fulfill their crucial means in protecting people if they miss crucial personnel and means. We welcome the decision made by the Secretary-General for allowing open access for refugees to UN compounds in emergency situations. Opening up the compounds in South Sudan has saved thousands of lives. 

We pay tribute in this context to the excellent initiative of the permanent representative of India, His Excellency Ambassador Mukerji, concerning enhancing the yearly commemorative ceremony for fallen peacekeepers. Violence against peacekeepers is utterly unacceptable.

(Prosecution for violence)

Prosecution for the use of violence is a crucial deterrent for potential perpetrators. First of all, legal structures and judicial institutions in member states must be improved to this end. The Kingdom of the Netherlands is a crucial partner both for many countries as for the UN in strengthening the legal order, providing e.g. training programmes and technical assistance. May I highlight that the Kingdom of the Netherlands is the largest donor of UNDP’s Rule of Law cooperation programme.

If national systems fail and the Rome Statute is applicable, the ICC is a crucial safeguard that justice is done for the worst crimes.


The Kingdom of the Netherlands will continue to be your partner for peace, justice and development in the three areas mentioned. 

Together we must strive to bridge the gap between our common ambitions and the world we see around us. 

In realizing the ambitions of the Charter, we will do justice to the memory and legacy of non-violence of Mahatma Ghandi. To quote him, from this beautiful scarf you gave us with the great Orange lining: “Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind.” It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man.

Once again, my deepest appreciation for the Government of India for organizing this important event.