Friday, September 12, 2008

Let the Dutch Government Know How You Feel

Any readers of this blog should already know the depressing news--that a Dutch civil court sided with the Dutch state and dismissed the case against the Netherlands for their failure to prevent Srebrenica genocide in 1995 (see this article from Srebrenica Genocide Blog).

I urge any and all readers of this blog to contact the Dutch embassy in your country to express your dismay at this terrible, cowardly decision. For my readers in the United States and Canada, here is the link for Dutch embassys and consulates in both countries.

Websites for embassys are part of a state's presence in a foreign country--what a state chooses to include, highlight--and yes, exclude--in its embassy website reflects very careful and deliberate decisions in terms of public relations and diplomacy. In case you're wondering if the Dutch acknowledged this issue in their "virtual embassy"; well, the answer is no. However, the issue of human rights was not completely absent from the day's headlines: The very day the court handed down its decision, the embassy's website proudly announced that the Dutch Foreign Minister had just (the day before--September 9) created a new award for "Human Rights Defenders". No, I'm not making that up.

The award--a small statue of a tulip, with a cash prize as well--will be awarded annually to "an individual who has shown exceptional moral courage in protecting and promoting the rights of his or her fellow citizens." Perhaps the soldiers of Dutchbat should be nominated, since they pulled out all stops in their single-minded determination to preserve the lives of their fellow Dutch soldiers, most notably by meeting every demand, explicit and implicit, Mladic's troops made of them.

The first "Human Rights Tulip" will be presented later this year:

"‘The award will honour people who fight a difficult battle, often at great personal risk, and will lift them out of anonymity,’ said Mr Verhagen. The Human Rights Defenders Tulip has been created to highlight the prominence of human rights in Dutch foreign policy. It will be presented for the first time on 10 December this year, at a ceremony in the Ridderzaal (‘Knights’ Hall’) in The Hague."

I have no doubt that it will be a very touching ceremony. I doubt it will receive much coverage in Bosnia, however.


Anonymous said...

Sadly nominations for the award closed at the end of August. Breathtaking timing, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

Count me in. I am going to contact them immediately.

Anonymous said...

In the circumstances the following sounds a little anomalous:

"International Legal Order

A strong, effective international legal order is essential for a more equitable, peaceful and prosperous world and therefore for achieving the other objectives of Dutch foreign policy. Strengthening the international legal order means not only establishing standards, but also ensuring that they are complied with. It also means, if necessary, acting against transgressors. Access to the law and the dispensation of justice are indispensable instruments in doing so. Due legal process, at both national and international level, is still far from guaranteed everywhere. ...",international-legal-order

Anonymous said...

"Due legal process, at both national and international level, is still far from guaranteed everywhere..."


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