Utrecht, the Netherlands—With the Netherlands joining the UN Security Council in 2018, UPF organized a discussion of the nation’s greater role in international affairs and worldwide security issues.
UPF-Netherlands Secretary General Wim Koetsier opened the meeting, which was held at the Dr. Beelaerts Library on October 19, 2017, with a few words from UPF founder Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon and warmly welcomed the 27 guests who had come from diverse organizations and backgrounds. A video introducing the Peace Road project proposal was shown, which set the tone for global thinking.
The meeting was chaired by Mr. Berend Stuit, a former submarine captain of the Royal Dutch Navy. He gave a brief explanation of the background of the topic and provided great moderatorship. The first speaker, Professor Nico Schrijver of the Faculty of Law of Leiden University, gave a concise narrative of the last century and the approaches and roles of the Netherlands in international affairs.
The selection of countries for the Security Council has various criteria, but in the end, Professor Schrijver argued, the main criterion should be what is best for the UN and its goals of peacekeeping and security, rather than what is convenient for any individual nation. He urged that we must focus on what we can do for the sake of peace and security, working together to make that happen.
The second speaker, Mr. Willem van Eekelen, a former minister of defense and former European diplomat, offered insights from his rich political and diplomatic career. As France is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, he suggested that the French could take on a broader European position to ensure EU representation. Ultimately, no country in the EU can do things alone—we must do things together with others.
Mr. van Eekelen also posited that we shouldn’t let UN mandates limit us. Whenever possible, he said, we should stay in line with the UN goals and interests; yet when the EU is blocked by a veto from one of the permanent Security Council members (particularly Russia or China), we must find different ways to be involved—for example, under the international rule of law, to be able to act on the right of self-defense. Another suggestion is to introduce a double-veto right, by which a minimum of two vetoes are needed to block a decision, instead of merely one.
After the talks, the members of the audience joined in the discussion. Some questions concerned the composition and representation of the UN Security Council, as well as the issue of the proliferation of nuclear weapons. It was agreed that although the Security Council still is faced with many challenges and diverse interests of the different countries involved, there is hope and progress, when cooperation and integration are put first for the sake of world peace and security.
At the end, Mr. Koetsier presented Professor Schrijver with a certificate as Ambassador for Peace for his continued efforts to promote the international rule of law and to advocate for human rights.
With the serving of refreshments, the meeting reached the scheduled closing time with warm and cordial togetherness. All the guests said they were looking forward to the next invitation.
Mr. Koetsier closed the meeting with the advice to focus on quality of conversation as well as the diversity in voices. In these times of overwhelming negativity in the news and online media, he said, it is important to remain positive and focus on what we can do for each other and for the greater good.