The Netherlands and crisis management; three issues of current interest

October 10, 2005 - nr.34
Summary

This report focuses on three issues of current interest regarding the role of the Netherlands in crisis management operations: the organisation of the armed forces, the decision- making process for the deployment of military personnel, and the development of integrated security policies.

1      General background

The first section outlines the security situation and the main trends in crisis management during the 1990s. The disappearance of the Soviet menace brought about major changes in the strategic situation and the nature and extent of ‘new threats’ emerged. Against a background of the increasing dependence of Western societies on advanced information technology (and therefore increasing vulnerability in that respect), the emerging threats are from factors such as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the growth in international crime and terrorism, the increasingly complex nature of conflicts, their often intra- as well as inter-state character, and the increased role of violent non-state actors and the importance of the refugee problem. In addition, global interdependence has increased and distance has lost some of its power to protect. The distinction between internal and external security is becoming increasingly blurred.

In the crisis management field, a number of traumatic experiences (Somalia, Rwanda, Yugoslavia and Sierra Leone) have forced the UN and its member states to temper the optimism of the early ‘90s and to recognise that there are limits to what the UN can take on as regards the execution of crisis management operations at the higher end of the spectrum of force. Crisis management operations with more demanding mandates are now more frequently undertaken by ad hoc coalitions and regional organisations. The need for an integrated approach combining military action and civil assistance has also become clearer.

Armed forces in Western Europe have turned themselves into organisations directed at extra-territorial crisis management. Defence budgets have declined to match. At the same time, new threats have emerged. The result has been twofold: a greater need for additional reasons for military action abroad and a renewed awareness of the need for homeland defence. Countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Norway and Canada have responded by reversing the decline in their defence budgets, while the Netherlands and Germany have continued to make cuts. Declining budgets and a demanding ongoing range of tasks have made wider cooperation between the armed forces of different member states a necessity. Since 1998, the EU has been working rather tentatively to develop its own security and defence policy and NATO has focused increasingly on crisis management and the fight against international terrorism. It has remained difficult to deal with conflicts in regions not (yet) capable of resolving them themselves, especially in Africa, where the humanitarian consequences of conflicts are severe but Western countries see little potential benefit to themselves to justify the risks of military intervention. The necessary development of genuinely integrated security policies in conflict areas also continues to be a difficult challenge.

This is the background against which this report addresses the questions that the government put to the AIV on 29 October. It shows that the three apparently quite separate issues are in fact interrelated. Nevertheless, the AIV does not claim that its discussion of the three areas constitutes a comprehensive overview of the entire crisis management field.

2      The organisation of the armed forces

In the first question in its request for advice, the government asks to what extent the more demanding nature of crisis management operations calls for further changes in the organisation of the Dutch armed forces.

  • The AIV shares the government’s view that there is a trend towards a hardening in the environment in which crisis management operations take place, but does not think that this development is exclusively due to the increased complexity and intrastate character of conflicts: international terrorism is another major factor. It complicates the conduct of crisis management operations because of the risk of reprisals in the operational area or in the homeland. However, international terrorism is also a threat in itself and may for that reason provide the motivation for international action. The AIV adds that the more traditional type of peace operation, usually undertaken under the aegis of the UN, has not disappeared. Such operations will remain important because they help to guarantee stability in areas where tensions have the potential to produce outbursts of violence.

The government asks the AIV whether the more demanding nature of today’s crisis management operations should have consequences for the organisation of the Dutch armed forces. The question is set against the background of the sweeping cuts and structural changes recently decided by the government.

  • The AIV does not think that this is an appropriate time to offer radical advice on the organisation of the armed forces. It also concludes that, in the light of the level of ambition formulated by the government, the manpower and equipment requirements of ‘initial entry’ and ‘follow-on’ operations do not provide any clear criteria for the establishment of explicit priorities for the reorganisation of the armed forces. Moreover, the use of these terms can give rise to confusion. For this reason, the AIV prefers to refer the government to the view expressed in its 1999 report to the effect that, in thinking about the development of Dutch security policy, it is impossible to draw any hard and fast distinction between crises and tensions at the lower and upper ends of the spectrum of force. The events of recent years have merely given added weight to this opinion. In view of the government’s desire to pursue an active security policy and the country’s position in the world, the Netherlands should certainly not avoid contributing to ‘initial entry’ operations and should maintain a flexibly deployable advanced capability for this purpose.

Even after the cuts currently proposed, the requisite flexibility will still be preserved, albeit on a smaller scale. Where a problem may arise is with the capability to sustain operations over longer periods. The cuts imposed (sometimes resulting in the abandonment of the traditional triple rotation method), the need to conduct several crisis management operations simultaneously, and the influence of training cycles, recruitment and logistics will inevitably have an impact.

  • The AIV is doubtful whether the sustainability capability provided by current levels of human resources and materiel will be sufficient to achieve the level of ambition defined by the government.

The tasks of the armed forces are not confined to crisis management. They include action in the Netherlands Antilles and providing support in case of disasters and emergencies. ‘Homeland Defence’ has also acquired new significance as a result of the war on terrorism – even if it is not yet clear what demands this will make on the resources of the armed forces.

  • The AIV feels that more attention should be paid to the role of the National Reserve Corps. Without wishing to suggest that the Netherlands should take no part at all in traditional peace operations, it also recommends that priority should be given to deployments for participation in more complex operations at the higher end of the spectrum of force, since this is where the best use can be made of the advanced capabilities of the Dutch armed forces.
  • The deployment of the Dutch armed forces in the higher regions of the spectrum of force, as the AIV advocates, demands both from the government and from parliament the political will to accept the consequences. The AIV feels that the public is in general prepared to accept the consequences of the deployment of military units in these circumstances, provided that the aims are made sufficiently clear. This is a task for the government and parliament.

3      Decision-making procedures

In response to the question on decision-making procedures, section III considers the necessary consequences of increased military cooperation for current Dutch decisionmaking procedures and the involvement of parliament. Article 97 of the Dutch Constitution specifies the purposes for which the armed forces may be deployed, namely for ‘the defence and protection of the interests of the Kingdom, and in order to maintain and promote the international legal order’. Article 100 prescribes the involvement of the States General if the armed forces are to be deployed or made available to maintain or promote the international legal order. This is to take the form of the supply of advance information on the intended use of the armed forces, so that the matter can de discussed with the States General. The Frame of Reference must be seen as a ‘checklist’ for the exchange of views between the government and parliament.

Dutch decision-making on the deployment of military personnel can relate to deployment in the context of UN operations, within various types of NATO settings, and within other types of multinational force. Section III describes how these various procedures work in practice and shows that deployments fall into two categories.

The first category is that of deployments in contexts where the procedure is to request troop contributions on a case-by-case basis. This is the practice in relation to UN operations and also as regards the constitution of NATO and EU forces. Although these cases involve a hybrid process, coordination of national decision-making on them is relatively straightforward.

The second category is that of deployments in the context of standing forces like those of NATO, the various multinational forces to which the Netherlands contributes and also the new NATO Response Force. Coordination of national and international decision- making is more complicated in these cases. Decision-making takes place in three phases: firstly, establishment of the force and the Dutch decision to make a serious contribution to it; secondly, allocation of specific units; and, thirdly, deployment of the military force in a specific situation.

However, Dutch decision-making procedures and parliamentary involvement in them are concentrated in the third phase.

  • The AIV recommends that the implications of the decision-making process in the first two phases should be fully recognised – both by the government and by parliament.
  • Amendment of the Frame of Reference is not a solution since the document is a tool for decision-making in phase 3. Therefore, the AIV recommends that more attention should be paid to the previous two phases, especially that of allocation. The relevant parts of the Frame of Reference should be used in decision-making at that stage.
  • Although, as already noted, the solution will not lie in an amendment of the Frame of Reference, it is nevertheless worth considering improving the Frame of Reference in this respect. For the sake of completeness and clarity, it should pay more systematic attention to the process of decision-making in the first two phases. The question of whether the contribution is part of a standing multinational force should also be considered. For example, a new consideration could be introduced: description of the decision-making process preceding deployment/nature of the multinational force/state of play regarding decision-making in the partner country/among allies.

The discussion of the NRF raises the question of the ‘overlap’ between the two purposes specified in Article 97 of the Constitution. After all, the NRF is intended to be deployed in both Article 5 and Non-Article 5 situations. The AIV recognises the potential for this overlap. Indeed, it is likely to be the result of the current blurring of the distinction between internal and external security. Situations may well arise in which deployment may equally well be argued to be for either of the purposes specified in Article 97.

  • In the opinion of the AIV, a fair interpretation of the wording of Article 100 of the Constitution requires that, where deployment is intended for both purposes and the purpose of maintaining and promoting the international legal order plays a not inconsiderable role, the government should follow the information procedure specified in Article 100. Not inconsiderable means significant, but not necessarily predominant. The way in which the various terms (‘interests of the Kingdom’, ‘promote the international legal order’, ‘significant role’, et cetera) should be interpreted in a particular situation will be decided in the first instance by the government. Where one factor is clearly predominant, this should be taken as the main indicator of whether or not Article 100 applies. The government should aim to be consistent in its choices in this area. The choice made by the government in any particular case will, of course, be subject to the general democratic control of parliament. It is certainly not the intention of the AIV to extend the scope of application of Article 100 to include the other purposes specified in Article 97, in relation to which Article 100 imposes on the government no obligation to inform parliament.
  • The AIV sees the procedure adopted in the case of the deployment of Dutch troops in Afghanistan as an example of how, in practice, the government interprets its constitutional obligations in favour of involving parliament where there is any doubt about the strict necessity of doing so.
  • Rapid decision-making in the case of ISAF suggests that the speed required in relation to any deployment of the NRF should be no problem. The issue of deployment in special operations requiring secrecy is covered by the current provisions of the Constitution.

4      Integrated security policies

Section IV addresses the issue of whether current efforts by the international community take a sufficiently integrated approach to the problem that ‘In post-conflict countries and countries that are at risk of destabilisation and violent conflict, security, stability and development are closely linked’ and examines the role of the criteria established by the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) to define pure development assistance (ODA).

An integrated approach needs to encompass many different components. This is now generally agreed.

  • InThe AIV believes that a broad approach of this kind is absolutely necessary to ensure the success of crisis management operations.

Too little has yet been done in practice to develop what are termed integrated security policies. Existing structures are an obstacle to this, at both multinational and national level.

  • The AIV believes that the constraints imposed by policies emphasising good governance, partner countries and ODA targets impede the development of integrated security policies.

The Netherlands sets itself the target of devoting 0.8 of GNP to development cooperation. This is in accordance with the OECD-DAC norm.

  • The AIV advocates a flexible interpretation of the 0.8 norm for development cooperation spending. It feels that the Netherlands should abandon the strict linkage to the ODA criteria where they create an obstacle to integrated security policy. The ODA norms were devised to ensure improved comparability of donor performance and hence a degree of ‘peer pressure’. While the AIV feels that this aim is still valuable, it does not feel that it should outweigh the desire to pursue relevant and upto- date policies.
  • This does not mean that the AIV advocates the complete abandonment of the 0.8 norm for the development cooperation budget. Nor does it advocate reformulating the ODA criteria to include strictly military spending by donor countries. The AIV is in favour of preserving the distinction between the specific responsibilities of development cooperation and defence so far as ODA figures are concerned.
  • The AIV realises that ODA resources are under pressure right across the board, both in general and from the point of view of peace and security. The Dutch ODA budget for 2004, for example, faces two unexpected additional demands: changes in the allocation of export credit guarantees and a 100 increase in the allocation for the reception of asylum seekers in the first year.
  • In the view of the AIV, international action should be taken to bring about a change in the ODA criteria. There are activities in the ‘grey area’ between security policy and development cooperation which the AIV thinks could be brought within the ODA criteria. The AIV feels that the categorical exclusion of support for the security sector in developing countries is too rigid. In addition, developing countries should be enabled to conduct crisis management operations in their own regions, something which at the moment they are virtually or completely unable to do. To achieve this, support needs to be directed at building up civilian-controlled professional armies in such countries. The same applies to the ‘blue helmet’ criterion under which activities can only be counted as ODA if the work is done by UN troops. The AIV feels that this is wrong. Provided that the activities are undertaken in a UN context (preferably under a UN mandate), it hardly matters who does the work on the ground. The AIV has listed some examples.
  • The AIV judges the establishment of the new Stability Fund to be a valuable first step in the direction of creating the necessary flexibility. Its limited size seems unlikely to be sufficient but only time will tell. The AIV also feels that the Ministry of Defence should be consulted on the allocation of resources from the Fund (with due regard for the fact that they form part of the development cooperation budget).

In conclusion, the AIV would make the following two observations in relation to ‘integrated security policies’.

  • Firstly, decision-making on the deployment of military personnel could take explicit account of the extent to which deployment is consistent with the concept of ‘integrated security policy’. This consideration could be added to the current ones listed in the Frame of Reference and discussed in section 3.
  • Secondly, the AIV would point out that whereas the level of ambition in relation to crisis management operations can be adjusted downwards without much discussion (see section II), flexible application of the criteria in the development cooperation field seems to be a far more politically controversial issue (see section IV). This is a reality of political life in the Netherlands, but is still astonishing. It is inevitable that frictions will arise between two areas of policy in which budgets are set in such different ways (in development cooperation as a set percentage of Gross National Product, in Defence on the basis of political criteria which are easy to change). The AIV stresses that this fundamental point needs to be resolved at political level: choices must be made at that level and financial resources tailored to policy priorities in order to achieve a closer alignment of government ambitions in these two areas.
Advice request
Ministry of Foreign Affairs        Ministry of Defence
Postbus 20061        Postbus 20701
2500 EB Den Haag        2500 ES Den Haag
Tel. 070-348 6486        Tel. 070-318 8188
 
          
Mr F. Korthals Altes 
Chairman of the Advisory Council  
on International Affairs 
2500 EB Den Haag 
Our ref.: DVB/CV-253/03Date: 29 October 2003

Re: Developments in crisis management: implications for the Netherlands

 

Dear Mr Korthals Altes,

Introduction
Negative experiences in Somalia, Rwanda and Bosnia-Herzegovina prompted a reconsideration of peace operations in the mid-1990s. In its report ‘Lost Innocence’ of March 1996, the Advisory Council on Peace and Security (AVV) drew lessons from these experiences in a series of recommendations. Since then, there have been further developments in peace operations – not only in the way they are conducted, but also in the institutional and procedural frameworks within which national and international decision-making takes place. Against this background, the government requests the AIV for an advisory report on the implications of these developments for the Netherlands, with particular emphasis on the following elements.

Most of today’s armed conflicts are highly complex and take place within states. Furthermore, they are often associated with humanitarian emergencies. This makes it both more difficult and more urgent for the international community to intervene. Intervention in such conflicts requires an international force with enough authority and resources to keep the situation under control, even when the security situation deteriorates. Such a force therefore needs an adequate mandate. It must also be equipped and prepared to fight, if necessary, irrespective of whether it uses force on behalf of one of the parties and or whether it has the permission of the parties to the conflict.

For some time there has been an unmistakable trend towards more ‘robust’ mandates based on Chapter VII of the UN Charter, rather than Chapter VI. This gives troops more authority to use force in completing their mission. At the same time, however, a mandate must always be feasible. It must be clear what the troops are expected to do and, preferably, what they are not expected to do. The latter applies particularly in the case of such large-scale, wide-ranging tasks as protecting the civilian population or separating the warring parties. Finally, the scale and composition of the intervention force must of course be tailored to the task in hand and the security situation in which it will be required to operate.

A report issued in 2000 by a UN panel under the chairmanship of Lakhdar Brahimi (Algeria) stated that, while the UN now had considerable experience of traditional peace operations, it was not well equipped to carry out ‘heavier’ operations in a complex setting. The UN therefore often leaves such operations to a regional organisation such as NATO, ECOWAS or the EU. Another trend has seen the UN mandating an ad hoc coalition of countries that are willing and able to carry out a military intervention. Command over such a UN-mandated coalition is generally in the hands of a lead nation. The United Kingdom, Turkey and the Netherlands/Germany have all taken command of ISAF, for example. Although this trend looks likely to continue, few countries are willing and able to lead a long-term operation. As has been seen with ISAF, however, after a time there is a need for more continuity of leadership. This can be provided by structural involvement on the part of an organisation such as NATO, the EU or the UN. NATO supported ISAF for a time, and is now in fact leading the operation. It is also to support the Polish division participating in the stabilisation force in Iraq. This marks the de facto start of NATO out-of-area deployment.

In recent years, successive peace enforcement operations have followed on from armed intervention or armed conflict. Consider, for example, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq, where a stabilisation phase set in after deployment of heavy military resources. This meant that international forces already on the ground had to fulfil a different role. An initial entry military stabilisation force in the crisis area can thus find itself in a situation where there is no adequate administrative or power structure.

In view of the above, we should like to put the following questions to the Council.

1. The Dutch armed forces
The implementation of crisis management operations, including those involving a high degree of force, is one of the main tasks of the armed forces. Since the early 1990s the Netherlands has taken part in no fewer than nine major operations, supplying considerable numbers of troops. In the future, the Netherlands’ level of participation in crisis management operations will be determined not only by the aim of each operation, but also by the way in which the Dutch armed forces are able to fulfil the new requirements of such operations. This last consideration also played a major role in the decisions on where the Ministry of Defence is to step up or cut back its activities over the next ten years, a letter on which was received by the House of Representatives on 16 September. The question is: What will be the implications of ‘heavier’ crisis management operations for the Dutch armed forces? In particular: should the organisation of the armed forces focus on its initial entry capability, alongside its capacity to contribution to a follow-on force, including its stabilisation function?

2. National decision-making
In crisis management operations, the Netherlands always acts as part of an international force. Before making military units available for the promotion and enforcement of the international legal order, the government informs the States General, in accordance with Article 100 of the Constitution. The national decision-making procedure on the deployment of troops to which Article 100 applies is set out in the 2001 Frame of Reference for decisionmaking for the deployment of military units abroad. In this connection, the recommendations of the ad-hoc committee set up to consider decision-making on troop deployment (2000) – which have largely been adopted by the government – are also important.

In recent years, various initiatives have been undertaken to set up multinational military units, such as the planned NATO Response Force and its European counterpart. The Dutch armed forces also engage in bilateral cooperation with a number of countries. In its recent advisory report on military cooperation in Europe, the AIV argues that nation states will have to relinquish some of their decision-making power if such operations are to be successful. It is not clear how the further embedding of Dutch units in multinational military alliances will impact on national decision-making procedures. The question is therefore: Would it be appropriate to amend the Frame of Reference for the deployment of units, or can the procedures be changed in such a way that the need for rapid expeditionary collective intervention can be met, while still guaranteeing the involvement of parliament?

3. Integrated policy on security and development
In post-conflict countries and countries that are at risk of destabilisation and violent conflict security, stability and development are closely linked. It is not clear whether current efforts by the international community – including the Netherlands – take a sufficiently integrated approach to these issues. Such countries need security and stability in order to develop. Effective management and resolution of crises are also essential. After all, it is the poor who suffer most from insecurity, human rights abuses and the social and economic impact of destabilisation. Like health care and education, security is a public good, which also has a bearing on development.

Consequently, activities in these countries designed to enhance their capacity to maintain peace and security in the long term are part of the process of state formation. As in other areas (justice, police, finance etc.), state formation in the security sector is essential for development. Activities designed to guarantee security, which include support for the creation of a security apparatus under civilian control encompassing both the armed forces and the police, are equally relevant to development. The current OECD Development Assistance Committee’s (DAC) criteria for Official Development Assistance (ODA) rule out support for military components of the security sector, however. Experience in Afghanistan, Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Great Lakes region of Africa have raised doubts as to whether this is appropriate. How, for example, would the transformation of a group of 250,000 fighters led by warlords in Afghanistan into an armed force of 70,000 under civilian control to form a defence apparatus (which is currently non-ODA) be less relevant to development than the creation of an Afghan police apparatus (which is currently eligible for ODA)?

The ODA criteria do however permit a limited number of crisis management activities performed by troops as part of peace operations. The net additional costs incurred for the following activities are ODA-eligible: support for human rights, election monitoring, reintegration of demobilised soldiers, decommissioning of their weapons, repair of basic infrastructure, supervision and training of civil servants and police officers, customs, border controls, macroeconomic policy advice, and humanitarian mine clearance operations. In the past, these activities have been performed largely by UN troops (‘blue helmets’). The criteria allow for ‘similar’ activities to be included in ODA outside the UN framework, although only election monitoring, human rights activities, mine clearance and demobilisation are actually specified. Other activities are not always reported to the OECD-DAC as ODA if they are not carried out by blue helmets.

In the view of the government, it is undesirable for such lack of clarity to persist regarding interpretation of the OECD-DAC criteria for ODA. This lack of clarity, which also exists at international level, has led to a persistent division between peace and security policy on the one hand and development policy on the other.

This prompts the final set of questions: How does the AIV regard this issue and the need for a change in policy? How can Dutch and international integrated security policy be given further substance, and placed firmly on the agenda? What opportunities does the AIV believe the stability fund will offer in this regard? How does the AIV view the role of the ODA definition in the formation of integrated policy? Does the AIV believe the ODA criteria should be amended? In other words: Does the division between ODA and non-ODA limit the options for effective national and international action for peace, security and development? As regards the role of the armed forces: what military activities does the AIV regard as relevant to development and should the ODA criteria be amended to reflect this? This mainly concerns efforts to strengthen local security structures and the role of the international community and of Dutch troops. Could the Dutch armed forces play a greater role in providing technical assistance for the reconstruction of a country, for example, in the framework of integrated security policy, particularly in the security sector, and in weapons decommissioning, demobilisation and reintegration programmes?

J.G. de Hoop SchefferH.G.J. Kamp
(Signed)(Signed)
MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRSMINISTER OF DEFENCE
  
A.M.A van Ardenne-van der Hoeven
(Signed)
MINISTER FOR DEVELOPMENT COOPERATION

 


 

Mr F. Korthals Altes
Chairman of the Advisory Council
on International Affairs
Postbus 20061
2500 EB Den Haag
 

The Hague
19 February 2004

 

Dear Mr Korthals Altes,
 

On 29 October 2003, the Minister for Defence, the Minister for Development Cooperation and I submitted three questions for your consideration relating to developments in crisis management and their implications for the Netherlands.

One of the subjects of the letter was that possible embedding of Dutch units in multinational forces might have consequences for the national decision-making procedure for deploying Dutch military units to maintain and promote the international legal order. This is why we put the following question to you: Would it be appropriate to amend the Frame of Reference for the deployment of units, or can the procedures be changed in such a way that the need for rapid expeditionary collective intervention can be met, while still guaranteeing the involvement of parliament?

On 4 February 2004, the Senate debated the bills for adopting the 2004 budget statement of both the Ministry of Defence (Chapter X of the national budget) (2900200-X) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Chapter V of the national budget) (29200-V, NATO section). During the debate, the question arose of possible overlap of the objectives for deployment of Dutch military units both "for the defence and protection of the interests of the Kingdom" and "to maintain and promote the international legal order" (Article 97(1) of the Constitution). Some speakers asserted that overlap would have consequences for the involvement of parliament, in particular, as regards the obligation to inform [it] in advance in accordance with Article 100 of the Constitution.

The Minister of Defence and I would request that you also deal with this point – possible overlap of objectives and its consequences for the involvement of parliament in the decision- making process – in your advisory report on the previous question regarding the national decision-making procedure for deployment of Dutch military units to maintain and promote the international legal order.
 

Yours sincerely,
 

Bernard Bot
Minister of Foreign Affairs

Government reactions
Ministry of Foreign Affairs     Ministry of Defence
Postbus 20061     Postbus 20701
2500 EB Den Haag     2500 ES Den Haag
Tel. +31 (0)70 348 6486     Tel. +31 (0)70 318 8188
  

The President of the
House of Representatives
of the States General
Binnenhof 4
Den Haag
  

Date     11 June 2004
Our ref.     DVB/CV-138/04
       

On 29 October 2003, the Dutch government sent the Advisory Council on International Affairs (AIV) a request for advice on developments in the field of crisis management and their implications for the Netherlands. The AIV presented its advisory report on 13 April 2004.

By means of this letter, we wish to inform you of the government's response to the conclusions and recommendations of the AIV's above-mentioned report. The sections correspond to the government's questions and reflect the structure of the AIV's report. The AIV's conclusions and recommendations, as well as two concluding observations, appear in italics.

Bernard Bot        Henk Kamp
Minister of Foreign Affairs        Minister of Defence
                  
        Agnes van Ardenne-van der Hoeven     
        Minister for Development Cooperation     
               

cc The President of the Senate of the States General

 


Introduction

On 29 October 2003, the Dutch government sent the Advisory Council on International Affairs (AIV) a request for advice on developments in the field of crisis management and their implications for the Netherlands (see requests for advice). The request focused on the organisation of the Dutch armed forces, current decision-making procedures and the concept of integrated security policy. The AIV presented its report on 13 April 2004. The government wishes to express its appreciation to the AIV, which was able to comply with its request within a very short time.

Following the joint discussion in the Senate on 4 February 2004 of the bills concerning the adoption of the budgets of the Ministry of Defence (29 200 X) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for 2004 (29 200 V, NATO section), the government sent a supplementary question to the AIV concerning the possible overlap between the purposes for which the armed forces may be used, as specified in Articles 97 and 100 of the Dutch Constitution (see Annexe II).

On 8 April 2004, in response to the motion submitted by Mr Koenders et al., the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defence, acting on their own behalf and on behalf of the Minister for Development Cooperation, presented a policy memorandum on the political criteria for Dutch participation in future peace missions to the House of Representatives (29 521, no. 1). Among other issues, this memorandum dealt with the need for a broad and integrated security policy, the importance and implications of international military and non-military cooperation, the motives for participating in crisis management operations, the government's objectives and the funding of additional costs, as well as the scope for setting priorities. Furthermore, on 10 May 2004, the House of Representatives was informed about the discussion in the OECD/DAC High Level Meeting of 15-16 April 2004 on the ODA classification of development-related activities aimed at promoting peace and security.

This letter contains the government's response to the conclusions and recommendations of the above-mentioned AIV report. The sections correspond to the government's questions and reflect the structure of the report. The AIV's conclusions and recommendations, as well as two concluding observations, appear in italics.

  1. Current developments in crisis management: a survey

     

The government generally agrees with the AIV's analysis regarding a number of developments in the field of crisis management. The aforementioned memorandum of 8 April 2004 devotes several sections to developments in crisis management operations, the need for a broad and integrated security policy and the importance and implications of international military and non-military cooperation. The recent 'Prinsjesdag' (Budget Day) letter from the Minister of Defence (29 100 X, no. 4) also provides a detailed analysis of the international security situation and the desired international role of the Netherlands.

The government has highlighted the limits of the United Nations' capabilities in the field of crisis management with the observation that, for various reasons, the United Nations is generally unable to successfully play a leading role in operations at the high end of the spectrum of force, which require armed intervention. Nevertheless, the United Nations remains relevant in the field of crisis management. First and foremost, this is because it usually provides the mandate for crisis management operations, as a rule in the form of a Security Council resolution. The widespread political support for UN operations and the possibility of deploying the UN's wide range of instruments in both the conflict and the post-conflict phase place the organisation in a unique position.

In its section on international cooperation, the memorandum of 8 April 2004 discusses the increased need and desire to enhance the multinational character of defence efforts, including those in the field of crisis management.

The AIV notes that there continues to be a great need for a more integrated form of action, but that security policies are still not truly integrated - not at national level and even less at international level.

The government agrees with part of this analysis, namely that such a need exists, as is apparent from the section on broad and integrated security policies in its memorandum of 8 April 2004. The government acknowledges that there is room for improvement in this area, at both national and international level. The importance that it attaches to this issue is demonstrated by its establishment of the Stability Fund, among other things.

  1. The organisation of the armed forces

Since the mid-1990s, negative experiences with peacekeeping in the former Yugoslavia, among other factors, have led to the conclusion that crisis management operations should be carried out in a significantly more 'robust' manner. In its request for advice, the government asked the AIV what the implications of 'heavier' crisis man=agement operations will be for the Dutch armed forces and, in particular, whether priority should be given to initial entry capability

  • In general, the AIV endorses the government's observation that there is a trend towards 'harder' crisis management operations. The reason for this lies not only in the risks associated with interventions in intra-state conflicts, but also in the rise of international terrorism.
  • At the same time, the AIV notes that traditional peace operations remain important.

Key reasons for the more demanding nature of many crisis management operations since the mid-1990s are the proven need for an escalation capability and the importance of self-defence. NATO operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina (since 1995) and Kosovo (since 1999) have demonstrated that this is vital for the credibility of military action. The AIV agrees with the government's analysis on this issue.

However, the AIV rightly points out that the trend identified by the government is also a result of the terrorist threat, which has increased sharply in recent years. When carrying out operations, the armed forces must take due account of the possibility of terrorist attacks, as seen in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Ministry of Defence takes this into account when training and equipping units for deployment. The report 'Defence and Terrorism' (Parliamentary Papers 27 925, no. 40 of 18 January 2002) contains a list of measures for dealing with the increased threat of terrorism. For example, measures for protection against nuclear, biological and chemical weapons are being significantly improved.

The AIV further rightly notes that fighting terrorism can form an independent reason for military action. The Dutch contributions to Operation Enduring Freedom are powerful evidence of this. 'Defence and Terrorism' also introduced measures relating to the capability of the armed forces to act against terrorist groups, such as measures to expand and improve the equipment of the Commando Corps and measures to reinforce the capability of the armed forces for targeted operations. The terrorist threat may also crop up on Dutch territory. In the framework of a project on civil-military administrative agreements (CMBA), the Ministry of Defence, together with the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, is currently examining how cooperation with the civil authorities can be put on a more permanent footing. The conclusions of this project are expected in the course of this year.

Like the AIV, the government acknowledges the continued importance of 'traditional' peace operations, although the number of operations carried out under Chapter VI of the UN Charter has declined since the mid-1990s. The fact that the Netherlands remains willing to consider taking part in this type of operation is apparent from its participation in the UN peacekeeping forces in Cyprus (UNFICYP), Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) and Liberia (UNMIL). In addition, the Dutch armed forces also contribute military personnel to SHIRBRIG.

  • The AIV endorses the government's conclusion in the Budget Day letter that, although there is no longer any fear of a large-scale conventional attack on NATO territory, many other kinds of risks have increased.
  • The AIV feels that the events of recent years have merely given added weight to the opinion expressed in its 1999 report to the effect that, in thinking about the development of Dutch security policy, it is impossible to draw any hard and fast distinction between crises and tensions at the lower and upper ends of the spectrum of force.
  • For this and other reasons, the AIV concludes that, in the light of the level of ambition formulated by the government, the manpower and equipment requirements of 'initial entry' and 'follow-on' operations do not provide any clear criteria for the establishment of explicit priorities for the reorganisation of the Dutch armed forces. The AIV also thinks that, given the many sweeping measures announced in the Budget Day letter, this is not an appropriate time for it to advise any further radical reorganisation of the armed forces.
  • The AIV feels that the Netherlands should contribute not only to 'follow on' operations, but also to 'initial entry' missions.
  • The AIV recommends the deployment of Dutch armed forces in those fields where there is most demand for their advanced capabilities (in other words, in operations which demand high levels of skill and experience and sophisticated resources, and which present the opportunity to work flexibly and with a substantial degree of interoperability with military units from other countries). These qualities are especially necessary where troops are deployed in the complex situations likely to occur at the higher end of the spectrum of force.
  • The AIV believes that, even after implementation of the measures announced in the Budget day letter, the government will continue to have access to a broad range of operational capabilities deployable with great flexibility and interoperability in crisis management operations.

The government agrees with the AIV that security risks are increasing in many areas. The Budget Day letter also points out that developments that have occurred in recent years require urgent attention. The ongoing dispersal to states of concern of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, such as ballistic missiles of increasing range, continues to be of as much concern as it was in the past. The rise of international terrorism is also a cause for concern, all the more so because terrorist networks should be considered capable of acquiring and using weapons of mass destruction. The international agenda is largely dominated by these new threats. Like other countries, the Netherlands cannot avoid responding to this new situation.

In addition to these security risks, the aforementioned policy memorandum presented to the House of Representatives on 8 April 2004 in response to the Koenders motion notes that the demand for stability in the world is greater than the supply. Instability, which can develop into new conflicts, exists in many places. The recent events in Kosovo have demonstrated that the stabilisation of the Balkans has yet to be completed. Unresolved conflicts in Eastern Europe, especially in Moldova and the Caucasus, remain a source of concern. Outside Europe, the situation in the Middle East, the Persian/Arabian Gulf and large parts of Asia and Africa also provides cause for concern. Political instability and poor economic and social conditions in large parts of the world also have other repercussions for Europe - and thus for the Netherlands - such as inward migration, organised crime and drug and people trafficking, the proceeds of which are also used to fund terrorist networks and their activities.

The Dutch armed forces will increasingly have to prepare for operations in distant parts of the world. The AIV rightly reiterates that it is impossible to draw any hard and fast distinction between operations at the lower and upper ends of the spectrum of force. Experiences since the beginning of the 1990s, among other places in the Balkans, have taught that units deployed for operations at the lower end of the spectrum of force must have an adequate escalation capability to remain in control of the situation, discourage counter-actions and, where necessary, act decisively. The government also agrees with the AIV that an explicit set of priorities for distributing human and material resources between initial entry and follow-on operations does not provide any clear criteria for the reorganisation of the Dutch armed forces.

The government further agrees with the AIV that Netherlands should maintain its capability to contribute to a wide range of operations. The revised level of ambition in the Budget Day letter therefore starts from the explicit assumption that the armed forces should be capable of providing a qualitatively and technologically high-level military contribution to international operations at all levels of the spectrum of force, even in the initial phase of an operation. The government shares the AIV's view that it is preferable to deploy the Dutch armed forces for operations in which their quality can provide significant added value. Incidentally, the government wishes to note that operations at the lower end of the spectrum of force are frequently complex as well.

  • The AIV is extremely doubtful whether the sustainability capability (i.e. capability for long term participation in operations) available in the future will be sufficient to fulfil the ambitions expressed by the government.
  • For this reason, the AIV recommends the following minimum policy changes:
    (1)
    The government should pay increased attention to the capabilities, training and deployability of the National Reserve Corps.
    (2)
    Where participation in crisis management operations is concerned, the government should give priority to participation in more complex operations at the higher end of the spectrum of force, since this is where the best use can be made of the advanced capabilities of the Dutch armed forces.

The government does not share the concerns of the AIV concerning the sustainability capability of the armed forces, which will continue to have the necessary human and material resources at their disposal to realise government ambitions in this area. The government would like to clarify this point.

In the Budget Day letter, the government revised the level of ambition for the armed forces. Given the international security situation, there is no need to make allowance for the fact that, in so far as action at the higher end of the spectrum of force is concerned, the Netherlands or the alliance may become involved in a protracted military operation. In such operations, military action is instead aimed at resolving the conflict as swiftly as possible. The Netherlands therefore does not need to possess the capability to contribute a brigade, or its equivalent, to such operations for longer than a year. However, the armed forces should have sufficient sustainability capability to contribute a battalion, or its equivalent, such as a squadron of fighter aircraft or two frigates, to operations at the lower end of the spectrum of force, focusing on the stabilisation and reconstruction of former conflict areas, for an indefinite period. The level of ambition has been fixed at a maximum of three such operations. This type of operation remains as important as it was in the past. Accordingly, the Dutch armed forces have contributed to such operations on several occasions in recent years. This revised level of ambition played a large role in the government's decision about what measures to introduce in the Budget Day letter.

Besides the air manoeuvre brigade, the Royal Netherlands Army will from now on consist of two fully mobilised mechanised brigades instead of three partially mobilised ones. These brigades will consist, among other things, of two armoured infantry battalions, a tank battalion and a field artillery unit. The consequences of reducing the number of brigades for the mobilised capability of the Royal Netherlands Army are limited. Moreover, measures will be taken to reduce the deployment rate for certain categories, such as increasing the mobilised capability of the armoured infantry battalions. In addition, the mobilised capability of the Commando Corps and the Engineering Corps will be expanded by 80 and 150 men respectively.

Incidentally, brigade-level contributions to land operations at the higher end of the spectrum of force will not always be in the form of an organic mechanised brigade or the air manoeuvre brigade. Where appropriate, they may also take the form of an army task group that has a predominantly Dutch core and consists of a number of modules (staff and manoeuvre battalions), complemented by Dutch and foreign combat and non-combat support units, such as artillery, engineering, logistics, NBC and helicopters. If necessary, the Dutch part of the task force can be supplemented with contributions from the Commando Corps or the Marine Corps. The size and composition of such a brigade-level task group depend on the nature of the mission, the available response time and the required preparation time. Against this background, the level of ambition has been formulated in such a manner that the Netherlands should be regarded as capable of assembling a brigade or a brigade-level group for international action at the higher end of the spectrum of force with the land forces that it has at its disposal.

In light of the military superiority of western countries in the air and at sea, the air force and navy equivalents for operations at the higher end of the spectrum of force have been altered. Dutch contributions may thus involve fewer aircraft and ships than foreseen at the beginning of the 1990s. In addition, changes in operational procedures, improved support systems, better weapons and more precise selection of targets have led to a significant increase in the effectiveness of the navy and air force. The maximum contribution of the air force to operations at the higher end of the spectrum of force has therefore been reduced from three squadrons to two, each comprising eighteen fighter aircraft, and that of the navy from a task group comprising between six and eight frigates to one comprising a maximum of five. In practice, these contributions will also be assembled in accordance with the nature of the mission. Following this reduction in the level of ambition for operations at the higher end of the spectrum of force, the air force and navy still have the necessary resources to participate in operations at the lower end of the spectrum of force, such as stabilisation missions.

Against this background, the government sees no reason to follow up the AIV's recommendation to devote more attention to the National Reserve Corps in order to increase sustainability capability for crisis management operations. Moreover, the amount of instruction and training required for the safe and effective performance of expeditionary duties is so great that it would not be cost-effective to use reservists for this purpose. During crisis management operations, however, there is often a need for specific types of civil expertise that are virtually or entirely unavailable within the armed forces. The Ministry of Defence will therefore continue to call up reservists who do possess the required expertise.

In its report, the AIV supports the intention set out in the Budget Day letter to devote more attention to the role that the National Reserve Corps can play in the framework of the third key task of the armed forces, namely, assisting civil authorities. The Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations are currently working out the details of this role in the framework of the CMBA project. This involves taking stock of the needs of the civil authorities in relation to the deployment of the armed forces for the purpose of providing military assistance in the case of disasters and serious accidents, in the public interest and in the framework of the 1993 Police Act. The National Reserve Corps can supplement the existing capacity of the authorities during emergencies. The conclusions of the CMBA project are expected during the course of 2004. Those concerning reservists will subsequently be included in the letter on reservist policy that the State Secretary for Defence previously pledged to the House of Representatives.

  • The AIV emphasises that troop deployments in the context described in this report call for both the government and parliament to show the political will to accept the consequences in terms of the inherent risks and uncertainties of such operations. The AIV feels that the Dutch public is prepared to accept the consequences of the deployment of military units in these circumstances.

In light of the Dutch military contributions in Iraq and Afghanistan, the government is well aware of the importance of the issue broached by the AIV. Moreover, together with Germany, the Netherlands will be providing a significant share of the land forces in NATO's rapid response force - the NATO Response Force (NRF) - during the first half of 2005. During that time, the headquarters of the GE/NL Corps will be in charge of the NRF's land component, enabling us to demonstrate our solidarity with our NATO allies in a significant manner.

From a political point of view, the government is willing to deploy the armed forces when risks are involved. Political leaders must weigh these risks against the interests and values that are under threat on a case-by-case basis. It should not shy away from these risks when the interests and values that need to be defended are sufficiently important. Politicians should also have the courage to take responsibility for operations that may involve casualties. Nobody is interested in military contributions of a purely symbolic nature. What is at stake is the willingness to make contributions that are politically and militarily significant. In such cases, the government is obliged to do everything it can to reduce the risks. Political leaders bear responsibility for handling the deployment of troops in a judicious manner. This is also the best guarantee for military success.

  1. National decision-making procedures concerning participation in international military forces

In its request for advice, the government asked the AIV whether the further embedding of Dutch units in multinational military alliances requires amending the Frame of Reference, or whether procedures can be changed in such a way that the need for rapid expeditionary collective intervention can be met, while still guaranteeing the involvement of parliament.

  • Participation in standing multinational military formations means the de facto surrender of a proportion of the state's sovereign power of decision. The freedom of decision of both the government and parliament is limited from the moment of allocation (phase 2) and to some extent even from the moment at which the force is established (phase 1). >
  • In the case of the government, this is a consequence that has to be accepted.
  • In the case of the States General, it is relevant that it has already approved the creation of the combined military force and a serious Dutch contribution to it (phase 1) and the allocation (phase 2).
  • During consultations with the States General, proper time and attention should be devoted to the allocation stage (phase 2). This applies to both the NRF (where the question is now in the political limelight) and other standing multinational forces, where this has not been so.
  • Amending the Frame of Reference is not a real solution to the fundamental problem, since the document is a tool for decision-making in phase 3 (deployment) and ignores the issue of allocation. A better solution would be to use parts of the Frame of Reference in relation to decision-making on allocations (phase 2).
  • In the light of the above, the AIV recommends that the government and parliament should in future apply the Frame of Reference (or parts of it) at the stage when Dutch units are being allocated to standing multinational military forces (not just to the new NRF, but retrospectively to the existing multinational forces and any such future combined forces). Meaningful discussion at the stage of allocation could help to ease a later debate on deployment.

The government believes that participating in international cooperative forums does not detract from its sovereign power of decision regarding the deployment of the armed forces, but is well aware that contributions by the armed forces to standing multinational military forces involve a binding commitment. This is what led the government to ask the AIV to produce an advisory report as a basis for discussing these issues with the House of Representatives.

Unlike the AIV, the government draws a clear distinction between the standing rapid reaction forces of NATO and - in the future - the European Union, on the one hand, and multinational alliances, on the other. What is new about NATO's rapid response force - the NATO Response Force (NRF) - is primarily that it consists of units from member states that have been made available in advance and trained for joint deployment, whereas until now, in the case of a crisis, member states would first have to be asked by means of a time-consuming procedure to contribute forces, which would then have to be coordinated with each other. When the NRF is deployed during a crisis, the traditional process of force generation - and the related issuance by the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) of an 'activation warning' (in which he announces that he intends to call upon the member states) and an 'activation request' (the official request for contributions) - can be skipped. This means that the NRF can be deployed more rapidly following a decision of the North Atlantic Council (NAC), but also that making units available to the NRF involves a binding commitment. The basic composition of the NRF - and thus of the contributions of the member states to it - is fixed. They should therefore bear in mind that NATO can call up these units - including those of the Netherlands - once they have been made available to the NRF.

SACEUR's 'statement of requirements' indicates which of the units that have been made available to the NRF NATO will call up for a particular operation. The NAC's approval of the statement of requirements and the operational concept means that the composition of the NRF - and thus the contributions of the relevant member states to it - are fixed. On the basis of a detailed operational plan, the NAC can then decide to deploy all or part of the NRF. Following this decision, the operation is carried out under the command of SACEUR by the units selected for this purpose. The NAC is responsible for political control.

All decisions of the NAC require unanimity. If the Netherlands were to oppose a NATO operation involving the deployment of the NRF, there would be a lack of unanimity in the NAC. The withdrawal of units made available to the NRF is only conceivable in exceptional circumstances. It is highly unlikely, however, that the Netherlands, of all countries, would block an operation that enjoys widespread support within NATO. Nevertheless, if the Netherlands were to have strong objections to the deployment of the NRF, it could theoretically withdraw units previously made available to the Force. It goes without saying that this would place a considerable burden on solidarity within the alliance. In such cases, other countries would have to supply the necessary replacements.

The NRF can be deployed both to protect the territory of the alliance - in NATO parlance: 'Article 5 scenarios' - and for crisis management operations relating to the international legal order. If the NRF is deployed to defend NATO territory, the participation of Dutch troops falls under Article 97 of the Constitution.

If the NRF is deployed for crisis management operations for the purpose of maintaining or promoting the international legal order, the decisions concerning Dutch participation are governed by Article 100 of the Constitution. This means that, in principle, the government must inform parliament in advance if the armed forces are to be deployed or made available for this purpose.

As far as the government is concerned, this will all remain unchanged. However, in the case of crisis management operations relating to the international legal order, the NRF may place special demands on the provision of information to parliament. Firstly, the NRF must be able to respond rapidly. If necessary, the main force should be able to deploy within thirty days. Within five days of a decision of the NAC, it should be possible to dispatch reconnaissance units. As in previous NATO operations, the decision of the NAC will be preceded by consultations in the national capitals, including parliamentary consultations. Swift action is then required in order to intervene rapidly and guarantee the military effectiveness of the NRF.

Secondly, the NRF will be manned on the basis of a rotational system, according to which the member states - including the Netherlands - will repeatedly make units available for a period of six months. Article 100 of the Constitution does not apply here, as it only concerns the government's decision to actually deploy or make available Dutch troops to maintain or promote the international legal order. On the other hand, as already noted, the allocation of troops to the NRF does involve a binding commitment.

The government therefore regards the AIV's advice to devote more attention to the moment of allocation as applicable solely to the NRF and - possibly in the future - to the rapid reaction capability of the European Union.

The government agrees with the AIV that amending the Frame of Reference does not provide a solution. In the letter of 2 October 2003 (28 676, no. 8), the government indicated that it will announce the allocation of Dutch units to the NRF in the annual budget. The government agrees with the AIV's suggestion to provide for initial parliamentary review at the moment of allocation of Dutch military units. At such time, if possible and relevant, the government can explain several issues mentioned in the Frame of Reference. For the time being, since the modus operandi of the EU Battle Groups has yet to be finalised, this parliamentary review applies exclusively to the allocation of units to the NRF. For the record, since this does not involve a decision to deploy or make available Dutch troops for the purpose of maintaining or promoting the international legal order, Article 100 of the Constitution does not apply to this allocation.

Among the issues mentioned in the Frame of Reference that could be explained at the allocation stage, the AIV refers in particular to those of a military and financial/organisational nature. With regard to financial issues, the government wishes to point out that, at the moment of allocation, it is impossible to shed any light on the scale of the additional costs, as these depend entirely on the nature and scale of the requested contribution and the circumstances and situation in the prospective deployment area.

Together with the AIV, the government wishes to emphasise that at this stage there are obviously no answers available to the questions in the Frame of Reference relating to the political context, as the issue of allocation is not connected to a particular situation or operation. Decision-making concerning the Dutch participation in crisis management operations can only take place after the situation in a specific case has been thoroughly examined. Only then will it be possible to weigh up all the relevant factors - with due regard for the Frame of Reference - in an adequate manner.

  • The Frame of Reference used in phase 3 (deployment) could, however, be expanded to include an extra consideration explicitly addressing the implications of decision-making in the previous phases. This should also explicitly address the issue of whether the contribution is part of a standing multinational force. This could be done, for example, by introducing a separate consideration: 'nature of the Dutch contribution/nature of the multinational force/state of decision-making in the partner country/among allies'.

The government is pleased to adopt the AIV's advice to devote explicit attention, where appropriate, to the question whether the contribution is part of a standing multinational force when using the Frame of Reference. In fact, it already does so in practice, as apparent from parliament's involvement in the decision-making regarding the joint German-Dutch command of ISAF. On 24 September 2002, the government notified the States General of its intention to examine the possibility and desirability of establishing a joint command by deploying parts of GE/NL Corps' headquarters. This was followed, on 4 October 2002, by another letter containing supplementary information (27 925, no. 69). The letter in which the government finally informed parliament of its decision to participate (27 925, no. 71) dealt in detail with the relevant aspects of the German decision-making.

  • The involvement of the States General and the Frame of Reference are relevant only in the case of Article 100 deployments. Where they are concerned, parliament has a right to be informed and can, on the basis of the information provided, request a debate.
  • The meshing of internal and external security can increase the number of situations in which the deployment of Dutch military personnel can equally well be argued to be for either of the purposes specified in Article 97. A reasonable interpretation of the wording of Article 100 of the Constitution requires that, where deployment is intended for both purposes, and maintaining and promoting the international legal order plays a not inconsiderable role, the government should follow the information procedure specified in Article 100. The way in which the various terms should be interpreted in a particular situation will be decided in the first instance by the government. Where one factor is clearly predominant, this should be taken as the main indicator of whether or not Article 100 applies. The government should aim to be consistent in its choices in this area. It is certainly not the intention of the AIV to extend the scope of application of Article 100 to include the other purposes specified in Article 97, in relation to which Article 100 imposes on the government no obligation to inform parliament.
  • Where personnel are deployed in the context of special operations demanding secrecy, the retrospective provision of information to parliament will often be the only option. In the view of the AIV, this cannot be regarded as a real problem, given the flexibility available in the Constitution and the operational necessity of secrecy. Nor, given experience with ISAF, does the AIV think that the speed of decision-making required in the case of the NRF is a fundamental problem.

The government agrees completely with these recommendations of the AIV, with the proviso that it does not rule out the possibility of informing parliament, even in cases in which Article 100 of the Constitution does not officially apply, as far as possible in accordance with the spirit of the Frame of Reference. Thus, for example, the government has decided to inform the House of Representatives about the military contributions of the Netherlands to Operation Enduring Freedom (in the framework of the fight against terror), as far as possible in accordance with Article 100, despite the fact that Article 100 does not officially apply to these contributions.

  1. Peace, security and development cooperation

In the request for advice, the government notes that security, stability and development are closely linked in post-conflict countries and countries that are at risk of destabilisation and violent conflict, and asks whether current efforts by the international community take a sufficiently integrated approach to these issues.

The government asked the AIV to present its views on these issues and examine the possibility of placing them on the international agenda. More specifically, it asked whether it is right that the ODA criteria categorically rule out support for military components of the security sector. How does the AIV view the so-called 'blue helmet' criterion, according to which reconstruction activities carried out by members of the armed forces only count as ODA if they are carried out by UN troops ('blue helmets'), a condition which is then qualified in the OECD/DAC's explanatory notes regarding the ODA criteria? How does the AIV view the role of the Stability Fund?

  • The AIV feels that the move towards an integrated approach, including activities addressing both post-conflict reconstruction and security issues, is absolutely necessary to ensure the success of crisis management operations. Donors like the Netherlands should continue to insist on the importance of achieving a coordinated approach between the various independent agencies of the United Nations.

The government believes that peace, security and stability are prerequisites for sustainable development. It therefore agrees with the AIV's observation that no less - and often more - attention should be devoted to an integrated approach than has been in the past. The Netherlands is also attempting to launch a more integrated policy with regard to conflict and post-conflict countries at national level, in part through the recently established Stability Fund, which can operate in conjunction with the deployment of troops in crisis management operations.

A consequence of the fact that military operations have to deal with reconstruction much sooner than ever before is that, at an early stage, such activities must be part of an overarching plan that focuses on more than just achieving the military objectives.

In theory, the various UN organisations together have at their disposal the entire range of political, security, development and humanitarian instruments that are part and parcel of such an approach. Closer cooperation between the relevant UN organisations and the World Bank would also be appropriate in this context. On 25 May 2004, the African Union formally established the African Peace and Security Council, an organ that can make it possible for Africans to shoulder their primary responsibility for security within their own continent. The European Union has welcomed the establishment of the Council and has pledged support to strengthen African capabilities in the field of peace processes. The EU also possesses a broad palette of instruments that can be deployed in conjunction with such activities. The Netherlands will continue to push for a more integrated approach to reconstruction issues in the relevant international forums, often in the context of the continuous path from crisis management - via reconstruction - to development.

  • At UN level, there is insufficient effort to achieve coherence at a time when operations are increasingly taking place under the aegis of bodies other than the United Nations. It is significantly more complicated to structure the development of integrated security policies when operations are undertaken by ad hoc coalitions or by NATO. For this reason, efforts need to be made to establish integrated security policies through forums other than the United Nations. The European Union and NATO should act as pioneers in this respect.

The government shares the AIV's view and notes that the above-mentioned pioneering role of the European Union and NATO is already beginning to take shape. The security strategy adopted by the European Union is based on coherent deployment of the entire range of instruments that the Union and its member states have at their disposal. In addition, the two organisations are already working together in the post-conflict countries of the Western Balkans and coordinating their policies in this regard. Coordination in the field is also better than before, as is apparent, for example, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, under the leadership of the UN-appointed High Representative, and in Macedonia, where consultations between the key members of the international community are chaired by the EU Special Representative. Incidentally, this does not mean that there is no room for further improvement, as demonstrated by the experiences in Kosovo.

In Afghanistan, the NATO-led ISAF mission also dovetails closely with the activities of the United Nations (UNAMA). In this context, mention should be made of NATO's PRT concept in Afghanistan.

In addition, the government wishes to note that classifying NATO as a primarily military alliance is only partially correct. During the crisis management phase, in particular, NATO's political role has proved to be of decisive importance in a number of cases. With regard to the implementation of activities aimed at reconstruction, however, more emphasis will have to be placed on organisations such as the EU and UN.

The government regards the African Peace Facility (APF), which was established by the European Union at the request of the African Union with a view to the further development of African crisis management capabilities, as an important new instrument. This is another step in the process towards a more integrated security policy in which Africans will bear primary responsibility. Through a process of continuous consultation, the European Union and the African Union are striving to ensure that activities funded from the APF are in harmony with wider EU policies promoting peace, security and development. Bilateral programmes of the member states in this field should also be harmonised with these policies.

  • In multilateral forums, the Netherlands should continue to call attention to the importance of activities in the 'grey area' between development cooperation and security policy. It is important to reach agreement on these in the OECD/DAC.
  • Post-conflict reconstruction activities undertaken as part of crisis management operations are no longer the exclusive preserve of UN peacekeepers. 'Green helmets' are increasingly involved. However, the cost of such activities can only be counted as ODA if the work is done by UN 'blue helmets'. The AIV feels that this is wrong. Provided the activities are undertaken in a UN context (preferably under a UN mandate), it hardly matters who does the work on the ground.
  • Developing countries should be enabled to conduct crisis management operations in their own region, something which they are at the moment virtually or completely unable to do. To achieve this, support needs to be directed at building up civilian-controlled professional armies in such countries. Support of this kind could be provided by donors but does not qualify as ODA under the current criteria. The AIV feels that it should qualify, subject to certain conditions. The categorical exclusion of support for the security sector is too rigid. Development-related activities undertaken by military experts in support of the development of the security sector (and hence of development generally) should be included in the definition of ODA.
  • In the view of the AIV, international action should be taken to bring about a change in the ODA criteria. There are activities in the 'grey area' between security policy and development cooperation which the AIV thinks could be brought within the ODA criteria. The AIV feels that the categorical exclusion of support for the security sector in developing countries is too rigid. In addition, developing countries should be enabled to conduct crisis management operations in their own regions, something which at the moment they are virtually or completely unable to do. To achieve this, support needs to be directed at building up civilian-controlled professional armies in such countries. The same applies to the 'blue helmet' criterion under which activities can only be counted as ODA if the work is done by UN troops. The AIV feels that this is wrong. Provided that the activities are undertaken in a UN context (preferably under a UN mandate), it hardly matters who does the work on the ground. The AIV has listed some examples.

The government believes that the current OECD/DAC criteria for ODA take too little account of new insights into the connections between peace, security and development. The Netherlands is working to expand the scope of the DAC criteria in order to make it possible for development-related activities aimed at promoting peace and security to qualify as ODA. In the government's view, and in accordance with the AIV's recommendations, these activities chiefly involve reforming the security sector (including certain military aspects) in developing countries, support for developing the capacity of developing countries to conduct their own crisis management operations and all development-related activities carried out by military personnel in the framework of crisis management operations in developing countries.

The government shares the AIV's view that it is not important whether or not development-related activities are carried out by UN 'blue helmets'. The DAC's current reporting guidelines list a number of bilateral activities in the context of peace operations whose net additional costs can be reported as ODA if they are carried out in a UN context (incidentally, regardless of whether they are carried out by military personnel or civilians). Although an explanatory note to the guidelines refers to the possibility of classifying 'similar' activities as ODA even if they are undertaken outside the UN context, this is not so clear in practice. The Netherlands therefore proposes eliminating the reference to the UN context from the guidelines. The government supports the AIV's position that, in order for such activities to count as ODA, the crisis management operation should take place within a UN context (preferably under a UN mandate).

You have already been informed of the provisional outcome of the relevant discussions in the OECD/DAC High Level Meeting of 15-16 April 2004 in the government's letter of 10 May 2004. There is agreement regarding the loosening of the DAC criteria for peace and security. In addition, it has been agreed that a number of activities can be reported as ODA-related. An approved list of activities is still being discussed, with a view to adopting a decision at the next High Level Meeting.

  • Because international agreement on this is only a distant prospect, the Netherlands should take immediate national action to relax its currently inflexible attitude to the inclusion of such activities in its budget for development cooperation. The AIV feels that the Netherlands' 0.8 of GNP target for total ODA spending should be preserved, but that the criteria for inclusion should be relaxed. The AIV feels that the development of integrated security policies is more important than the prestige attaching to a target figure. The development of such policies can be achieved by making it possible to use part of the national ODA budget to fund activities in the 'grey area' between development and security. Unused resources should revert to the ODA budget, and the cost of mainstream crisis management activities should continue to be met by the Ministry of Defence.
  • The AIV advocates a flexible interpretation of the 0.8 norm for development cooperation spending. It feels that the Netherlands should abandon the strict linkage to the ODA criteria where they create an obstacle to integrated security policy. The ODA norms were devised to ensure improved comparability of donor performance and hence a degree of 'peer pressure'. While the AIV feels that this aim is still valuable, it does not feel that it should outweigh the desire to pursue relevant and up-to-date policies.
  • This does not mean that the AIV advocates the complete abandonment of the 0.8 norm for the development cooperation budget. Nor does it advocate reformulating the ODA criteria to include strictly military spending by donor countries. The AIV is in favour of preserving the distinction between the specific responsibilities of development cooperation and defence so far as ODA figures are concerned.
  • The AIV believes that a broad approach of this kind is absolutely necessary to ensure the success of crisis management operations.
  • The AIV judges the establishment of the new Stability Fund to be a valuable first step in the direction of creating the necessary flexibility. Its limited size seems unlikely to be sufficient but only time will tell. The AIV also feels that the Ministry of Defence should be consulted on the allocation of resources from the Fund (with due regard for the fact that they form part of the development cooperation budget).

As already noted, the government shares the AIV's view that formulating integrated security policy and pursuing relevant and up-to-date policies are important goals. In addition, the government believes that the costs of mainstream crisis management activities should continue to be met by the Minister of Defence and that the linkage of the development budget to the 0.8 of GNP target for ODA spending, in accordance with the agreed OECD/DAC criteria, should be preserved. This basic premise of government policy is laid down in the coalition agreement. The government does not support the AIV's suggestion to already take action at national level by switching to a more flexible interpretation of the 0.8 norm. The Netherlands is working to expand the scope of the ODA criteria, but only activities in the field of peace, security and development that have been approved by the OECD/DAC will be funded from ODA resources.

The AIV correctly notes that the establishment of the Stability Fund increases the flexibility of the budgets for development cooperation. The Fund enables the government to support activities at the interface of peace, security and development in a flexible way and to deploy its instruments and resources in a more coherent and integrated manner. When the Fund is used, the first issue considered is what constitutes the most appropriate form of support. Only then does one examine whether the activity falls under the ODA criteria. Partly for reasons of efficiency and effectiveness, the Fund focuses largely - but not exclusively - on regions that are a priority for the Netherlands from the perspective of peace, security and development: the Horn of Africa, the Great Lakes region, the Western Balkans and Afghanistan. Since the establishment of the Stability Fund, the government has spent significantly more on this theme than it did in the past. Furthermore, the government has provided for an increase in coming years in the resources available in the framework of the Stability Fund for supporting activities at the interface of peace, security and development.

The size of the Stability Fund should be seen against the background of the limited financial scope in the current foreign policy budgets (ODA and non-ODA). When the performance of the Fund is evaluated after two years, it will be clear whether, and if so to what extent, it has succeeded in closing the gap in Dutch foreign policy between peace and security, on the one hand, and development, on the other. The government has resolved to reconsider the size of the Fund if necessary.

In addition, from 2004 onwards, the Ministry of Defence has financial scope within the framework of ODA (€13 million) to fund military activities that are ODA-eligible in crisis management operations. In accordance with the AIV's advisory report, the condition is that unused resources revert to the ODA budget if these activities do not meet the relevant ODA criteria.

The Ministry of Defence is closely involved - through its participation in the relevant steering committee - in decision-making concerning the use of the Stability Fund and will also be more closely involved in policy development (e.g. regional and thematic policy memorandums) affecting the Fund's spending and priorities. The Ministry will contribute manpower and military expertise to assess the operational feasibility of projects in unstable regions and where necessary will help to monitor progress. The Minister of Defence participates in the Stability Fund's decision-making in cases where the armed forces are deployed or involved in the implementation of the decisions.

  • The AIV believes that the constraints imposed by policies emphasising good governance, partner countries and ODA targets impede the development of integrated security policies.

The government does not share the AIV's view that the constraints imposed by policies emphasising good governance, partner countries and ODA targets impede the development of integrated security policies. However, it does acknowledge that peace and stability are prerequisites for political, economic and social development.

The main purposes of development resources are to reduce poverty and achieve the Millennium Development Goals. The government should enter into long-term commitments in order to achieve sustainable results. An example of this is education: results in this field are only visible in the long term. The above-mentioned criteria, such as good governance, are imposed in order to ensure that our resources are spent in a correct way and provide the framework within which the work is carried out.

Using these resources, the government devotes ample attention to specific issues in the field of peace and security. Annexe 2 of the letter on the outcome of the High Level Meeting in Paris that was recently sent to the House of Representatives (10 May 2004) points out that a very large sum from the development cooperation budget is spent on security-related activities.

Incidentally, the government wishes to emphasise that, in emergencies, resources can be found for integrated crisis management policies, including ODA resources. For example, the initial contributions for the reconstruction of Afghanistan had not been included in the budget in advance, and additional resources were made available for reconstruction in Sudan. In addition, the government is pursuing integrated policies - at national and international level - in the field of reconstruction (political, economic, defence-related and development cooperation). You can look forward to receiving a policy memorandum on reconstruction that will devote attention to the relationship between the military element, the civil element and economic reconstruction.

In addition to these bilateral resources, there is, as already mentioned, the Stability Fund (29 200 V, no. 10), which can be used to deploy resources at the interface of peace, security and development in a swift and flexible manner. The aforementioned regional concentration need not stand in the way of drawing on the fund: it may be used in countries like Afghanistan and Bosnia, but its scope explicitly includes countries outside the aforementioned regions. It is precisely the fund's high degree of flexibility that ensures the feasibility of integrated security policies.

Incidentally, the government believes that, at the present time, the greatest obstacle to an integrated security policy is not a shortage of resources but rather the complexity of, and a certain amount of ignorance concerning, the concept and its implementation.

Concluding observations

In conclusion, the AIV makes the following two observations in relation to 'integrated security policies'.

  • Firstly, decision-making on the deployment of military personnel could take explicit account of the extent to which deployment is consistent with the concept of 'integrated security policy'. This consideration could be added to the current ones listed in the Frame of Reference and discussed in section 3.

In the aforementioned policy memorandum of 8 April 2004 (29 521, no. 1), the government noted as follows: 'The reason a military operation is the most appropriate course of action under the circumstances is explained, in an analysis of the conflict and the instruments that the international community has at its disposal to put an end to it. In that analysis, other aspects of the integrated approach, including plans for the post-conflict phase, are also considered. This is because, as a rule, it will only be possible to leave the region after power has been successfully transferred to reconstructed civil institutions and the economy has been kick-started. In the context of this exit strategy, an adequate follow-up after military intervention, focusing on reconstruction, is indispensable.' In the government's opinion, the Frame of Reference already provides enough jumping-off points for dealing with this issue.

  • Secondly, the AIV would point out that whereas the level of ambition in relation to crisis management operations can be adjusted downwards without much discussion (see section 2), flexible application of the criteria in the development cooperation field seems to be a far more politically controversial issue (see section 4). This is a reality of political life in the Netherlands, but is still astonishing. It is inevitable that frictions will arise between two areas of policy in which budgets are set in such different ways (in development cooperation as a set percentage of Gross National Product, in Defence on the basis of political criteria which are easy to change). The AIV stresses that this fundamental point needs to be resolved at political level: choices must be made at that level and financial resources tailored to policy priorities in order to achieve a closer alignment of government ambitions in these two areas.

The government acknowledges that the objectives relating to crisis management and those relating to certain aspects of development cooperation overlap in certain areas. However, it does not believe that the different origins of the budgets act as a source of friction between these two policy areas. Consequently, the harmonisation of government ambitions is possible where the interface of peace, security and development is concerned. The establishment of the Stability Fund and current Dutch efforts within the OECD/DAC to expand the scope of the DAC criteria for development, peace and security form an initial step in this direction.
 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Abbreviations

AIV     Advisory Council on International Affairs
APF     African Peace Facility
CMBA     civil-military administrative agreements
DAC     Development Assistance Committee
EU     European Union
ISAF     International Security Assistance Force (Afghanistan)
NAC     North Atlantic Council
NATO     North Atlantic Treaty Organisation
NRF     NATO Response Force
ODA     Official Development Assistance
OECD     Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development
PRT     Provincial Reconstruction Team
SACEUR     Supreme Allied Commander Europe
SHIRBRIG     Standing High Readiness Brigade
UN     United Nations
UNAMA     United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan
UNFICYP     United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus
UNMEE     United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea
UNMIL     United Nations Mission in Liberia
Press releases

Press release related to this report has not been translated.