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CEA sends lobby letter to Members of Parliament

Publicatiedatum: 22/01/2018

Recently Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Sigrid Kaag published the policy document for the coming 4 years of governance 'Investing in Global Prospects'. The CEA lobby team in the Netherlands responded via a letter to the members of the Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation Committee to increase attention to the importance of civic space.

On June 28 the Minister will debate with the Committee on the content of the policy letter. In order to stress the importance of continued attention for civic space, the CEA lobby team in the Netherlands wrote a letter to all members of the Committee, underlining missing items and areas that demand more attention from the Minister than they received now in the policy letter. Thic Committee can adress these issues during the debate. A summary of the most important points of the CEA letter is provided below; for the full Dutch version see the download section below.

Civil society

  • More attention for the roles that religion, religious organizations and religious leaders can play in sustainable development, peace building and human rights. CEA aims for a strong cooperation between the Netherlands’ government and Faith Based Organizations in the Netherlands, because of their expertise and network of Southern FBO’s.
  • A more prominent role for Dutch embassies to signal violations of trade union rights and to exercise diplomatic pressure on countries in which these violations take place. CEA sees a clear relation between civic space in developing countries and the development of a private sector that does responsible business. In the policy paper, not enough attention was given to the potential downside(s) of Dutch business activities abroad.

Food Security and Agriculture

  • More attention to the position and strengthening of subsistence farmers, specifically women and youth, who are also central in SDG 2 and 8. In line with the recent evaluation of the Dutch Food Security Policy ‘Food for Thought’, CEA recommends to clearly differentiate the various instruments for the different groups of producers in order to mitigate the risk of subsistence farmers missing out on development.
  • The food security policy evaluation showed that the Netherlands has been relatively successful in increasing agricultural productivity, but this does not necessarily lead to less malnutrition. CEA advocates for better monitoring of the Dutch impact on decreasing malnutrition, focusing especially on women and children.
  • Regarding the importance of agriculture, food security and nutrition (also within the SDGs) CEA finds it important that the Dutch policy is developed further in cooperation and in coherence with the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality.

Corporate Social Responsibility

  • CEA deems it important that Corporate Social Responsibility is not limited to covenants, but that the government addresses all companies that do business internationally on the principles for responsible business, including companies that operate in sectors without covenant.
  • Corporate social responsibility and human rights need a visible place across the board of Netherlands’ diplomacy. Only companies that are in paper and in practice committed to the OECD guidelines and UNGP should be allowed to participate in trade missions organized by the Dutch government. The government should monitor this actively, and this should have been included more explicitly in the policy note.
  • In line with the strong focus in the policy note on gender and SDG 5, we expect the Dutch government to have a positive attitude towards an ILO convention on prevention and termination of violence against women and girls at the workplace. The Netherlands should pursue this convention on the international level.
  • The policy note focuses specifically on private sector development and an improved business climate, and thereby loses sight of political space for civic organizations and human rights. Civic organizations play a crucial role in signaling human rights-, environment- and biodiversity violations in which companies are involved. Recent cases in Honduras and Brazil demonstrate this; and this work deserves the support of the Dutch Government.

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