The Hague

20 April 2016

Remarks to Members of Parliamentary Committees of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

Ban Ki-moon

Thank you for your welcome.

I am honoured to meet with the members of the Dutch parliament today.

This is my sixth visit to the Netherlands as Secretary-General.

Every time I come I am heartened by the Dutch people’s commitment to inclusiveness, diversity, international cooperation and civil liberties.

The contribution of the Netherlands to the work of the United Nations touches on all aspects of the Organization’s work: peace and security, development, human rights and humanitarian assistance.

The Netherlands is a key partner of UN peacekeeping.

It is one of the most important actors in international efforts to stabilize Mali.

You are also active in South Sudan and the Middle East.

I also appreciate the work of the Netherlands on counter-terrorism and your support for the Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism.

I look forward to continued cooperation with the Netherlands to counter this rapidly growing threat.

Parliaments have a key role to play in implementing the recommendations of the Plan of Action.

As I have stressed on many occasions, the UN is emphasizing conflict prevention and mediation.

I deeply appreciate the Netherlands’ membership in the Group of Friends of Mediation.

Also, through your vital support for the International Court of Justice, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, The Netherlands promotes peaceful means to resolve international disputes and promote the rule of law.

Access to justice and a fair justice system are fundamental components of human rights.

In that sense, The Hague has become a symbol of the international community’s efforts to protect human rights.

I congratulate you on the opening of the permanent premises of the International Criminal Court, and thank the Netherlands for hosting this essential pillar of international justice.

Genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes represent the most serious violations of human rights.

I will continue to urge Member States that are not Party to the Rome Statute to show their commitment to accountability for such crimes by ratifying or acceding to it.

Honourable Members of Parliament,

This Friday, many Heads of State and Government will travel to New York to sign the Paris Agreement on climate change.

I again thank the Netherlands for its leadership and support leading up to this landmark accomplishment.

Countering climate change is a key component of sustainable development.

The Netherlands has been a key player in the post-2015 development process, including the Royal Family, which has been active in promoting water and sanitation issues and inclusive financing for development.

In the area of humanitarian action, I thank the Netherlands for its generous support to Syria announced at the London Conference in February.

This placed your country among the top ten donors in terms of pledged amount.

Holding the Presidency of the European Union, the Netherlands has an important role to play in ensuring collective action on the challenges related to the large movements of refugees and migrants towards Europe.

I count on the leadership of the Netherlands to craft a solution that is sustainable and practical and in line with international human rights and humanitarian law.

In particular, I urge the Netherlands to engage other European nations in constructing a comprehensive strategy to successfully integrate refugees and migrants, which would allow them to make a positive contribution to the communities that have given them protection.

Governments should address refugees and migrants’ need for access to employment and livelihoods, language and skills training, education and other essential services, as well as a more permanent legal status.

In this regard, the role of parliaments is crucial.

I and many others are concerned about the rise of xenophobic nationalism and rhetoric against “the other” in Europe.

Successful integration would prove such rhetoric to be false.

On the other hand, statements, policies and practices that promote intolerance and fear put integration efforts at risk.

Leaders – and parliamentary representatives – need to keep in mind that they serve as examples in setting the tone and terms of public discourse.

The UN is doing its utmost to address, in an integrated manner, the various aspects of the impact of the large movement of migrants and refugees.

I count on the support of the Netherlands for the UN’s efforts to bring world leaders together to discuss the way forward, including at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul next month and at the High-Level Plenary of the General Assembly on Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants in September.

When faced with challenges, it is easy to look inward.

I count on the Netherlands to continue to build on its long tradition of international cooperation and respect for international law and human rights to guide Europe.

Let us transform challenges into opportunities in our quest for a sustainable future of peace dignity and opportunity for all.

Thank you.