14 February 2024

Dutch Court Halts F-35 Aircraft Deliveries for Israel

In a landmark decision, the Hague Court of Appeal ordered the Dutch government on 12 February 2024 to stop supplying Israel with F-35 fighter jet parts because there was a “clear risk” that serious violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) would be committed with the aircraft in Gaza. In their unanimous decision, the three judges relied on the European Union (EU) Common Position on Arms Exports and the Arms Trade Treaty as they apply to Dutch law, which outline criteria against which military exports must be assessed to determine the risk of abuse. The judgment made important findings on the nature of these risk assessments, which may have significant implications in future litigation.

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01 February 2024

Milieudefensie v ING: Climate Breakdown and Banks’ Duty of Care

There is a trend towards climate lawsuits against companies based on their alleged duty of care not to emit more than a certain amount of greenhouse gases (GHGs). Currently, there are four such cases before courts in Germany, all of which have been unsuccessful so far. On 19 January 2024, Milieudefensie, a Dutch environmental group, initiated legal proceedings against the Dutch Bank ING, for the first time raising the issue of whether financial actors have such a duty of care. This case represents a significant milestone in the worldwide effort to transform the financial sector and curb its seemingly endless appetite for financing fossil fuels. In light of these proceedings, I argue that the German courts have adopted an imprecise understanding of what the duty of care entails and that an appropriate application of this duty can increase the accountability of financial actors.

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28 November 2023

Dutch Rule of Law Alert

It is never a good sign when Viktor Orbán celebrates the election results of another country. Last Wednesday was one of those days. For the first time in the history of Dutch politics, a far-right party became by far the biggest party in the Dutch parliament. It is bad news in many respects, and even more, because the Dutch constitutional system knows a lack of formal rule of law safeguards. In contrast to countries such as Italy or Germany, the Dutch constitutional system is not prepared for a democratic move to the anti-liberal far right.

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25 July 2023

A Scandal on AI in Administration, Again

After the infamous Dutch benefits scandal, the Netherlands are yet again the scene of wrongful application of an algorithm by the government. This time, the main actor is the Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs (DUO), the Dutch agency responsible for the allocation and payment of student loans to those enrolled in Dutch higher education. Specifically, DUO used an algorithm in their enforcement task, namely to verify whether the student loans have been rightfully allocated. In 2012, DUO commenced the use of this ‘in-house’ algorithm, which the Minister of Education – under whose responsibility DUO falls – halted on 23 June. The developments in the Netherlands epitomize the promises and pitfalls of further integrating automated decision-making (ADM) into public administration. On the one hand, ADM – sometimes labelled ‘artificial intelligence’ – is cheap and promises efficiency gains. On the other hand, ADM systems may be error-prone when facing the complex realities of societal life and legal ambiguity.

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19 April 2023
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Achmea Goes to Washington

Recently, a US District Court trashed a Dutch company's arbitral award against Spain. Why? Because investor-state arbitration within the EU violates European law. Yet, many tribunals keep issuing arbitral awards - especially under the infamous Energy Charta Treaty. Challenging those awards in domestic courts outside the EU, like here in Washington D.C., might work as corrective to the continuing illegal assumption of jurisdiction and blatant disregard for the EU Treaties by arbitral tribunals.

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10 January 2023

The Dutch Asylum Policy for Russian Draft Evaders

In a one page letter of 13 December, the Dutch state secretary for immigration Eric van der Burg explained to Dutch parliament how asylum claims made by Russian draft evaders will be dealt with. The new Dutch policy makes a distinction between Russian conscripts and Russians reservists who attempt to evade the mobilisation which the Russian president announced last September. Conscripts will continue to enjoy a form of temporary protection in the Netherlands. Asylum claims of Russians who evade mobilisation will, however, be decided on an individual basis. Importantly – and controversially – the state secretary suggests that claims of the latter category may now be denied because the Russian mobilisation has been completed.

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28 November 2022

Inequality of Harms, Inequality of Arms

On November 8th 2022 Channa Samkalden, lawyer for Esther Kiobel and three other widows of executed Nigerian community leaders, announced that her clients would be ending their lawsuit against Shell. Uncertainty about the outcome, combined with the fact that the case had already been (unsuccessfully) going on for over 20 years in multiple fora, had made the four widows decide to withdraw the appeal, “not without disappointment and frustration”. In this blog, I discuss this case's remarkable procedural history and why it, set against the particular facts of the case, illustrates the fundamental procedural unfairness between large corporations and victims trying to hold them to account.

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17 November 2022
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Picking Primacy over Procedural Autonomy

On 8 November, the Grand Chamber of the Court of Justice of the European Union (‘the Court’) decided that national courts are required to ascertain of their own motion whether detention of an illegally staying foreign national or asylum seeker is lawful. This judgment is an example of the ever-growing impact of EU law on national procedural rules, especially in the migration law area. The judgment is also noteworthy because of the difference in approach between, on the one hand, the Court and, on the other hand, the Dutch referring courts and AG Richard de la Tour.

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03 February 2022

Shifts in Historiography 

Today, there appears to be more consensus about the unjust nature of the Dutch/Indonesian war. As a scholar who has studied the evolution of the discourse on this topic, being asked to contribute to a symposium about the relation between decolonisation and human rights, is the perfect occasion to look back.

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29 January 2022

The Dutch Family Reunification Procedure

Being able to reunite with family from abroad falls under the right to family life, one of the fundamental rights every individual is entitled to. Despite this, some Dutch family reunification requirements are potentially at odds with international human rights law standards and the EU Directive 2003/86/EC on the right to family reunification. This problematic state of affairs reflects the ongoing racialization of European borders, and that of Dutch borders in particular.

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The Racialized Borders of the Netherlands

The principal function of borders in immigration law is to distinguish between persons and goods which are permitted to enter a territory and those which are not. I call this the filtering function of the border. In this short contribution, I enquire into how this filtering function of the border operates in the context of border controls in the Netherlands. More specifically, I argue that the way border controls are performed in the Netherlands structurally produces racialized subjects.

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28 January 2022
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Postcolonial Migration and Citizenship in the Netherlands

Can formerly colonized subjects and their descendants be full and equal citizens of the former metropoles – and if so, what would that look like? In this blogpost, we explore these politics of belonging in European postcolonial polities by looking at different conceptualizations of the relationship between the Dutch state and Surinamese-Dutch citizens and immigrants. While Dutch government discourses tend to represent Surinamese-Dutch as too different to belong to the Dutch Nation, Surinamese-Dutch organisations claimed postcolonial citizenship as different and equal.

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27 January 2022

Rights for Others, Firing Back?

Colonialism and decolonization have importantly shaped the constitutional trajectories of not only the colonized states, but also those of the colonizers. For the Netherlands, decolonization did not only dictate the pace of various constitutional reforms in the mid-20th century that were ‘needed’ to erase Indonesia (1948) and New Guinea (1963) from the text of the constitution, but also introduced new constitutional documents, such as the 1949 Dutch-Indonesian Union Charter and the 1954 Charter of the Kingdom. While it is necessary to critically analyze the impact of these postcolonial arrangements on former colonies, it is equally urgent to fill the profound gap in knowledge about the impact of colonialism and decolonization on domestic constitutional arrangements.

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26 January 2022

The European Convention of Human Rights’ Colonial Clause and the End of Empire

In this post, I would like to shed light on an important, yet generally overlooked aspect of the European Convention of Human Rights, namely that it was drafted at a time when many of the member states of the Council of Europe were still important colonial powers. While European empires in Asia were in decline and the Netherlands was in the process of withdrawing from Indonesia, this was not the case in what was then called New Guinea, Surinam or the Antilles. Colonial empires in Africa, for their part, were still well established and the question of the territorial application of the Convention was hotly debated in the drafting process. What were the implications of this link between human rights and empire?

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25 January 2022

Aggression, War Crimes, and the Indonesian Revolution

The specter of the Indonesian Revolution is still haunting our understanding of Dutch imperial violence. In this blog post, I want to highlight two central issues regarding the conflict’s legal history – one involving the alleged non-application of the laws of war to the conflict which has been a mainstay argument in Dutch official narratives, and the other regarding the ways in which we delineate today our legal-moral reasoning with respect to Dutch transgression.

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The Grotian Myth and Dutch Modern Imperialism

The self-image of The Netherlands as a nation with a legalist (or Grotian) approach to international affairs has turned a blind eye to how Grotian legal reasonings and arguments have been used to legitimize Dutch colonialism and to shape the post-colonial structure of international law.

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24 January 2022
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Decolonization and Human Rights: The Dutch Case

Human rights and decolonization have a complicated relationship. From their inception in the mid-20th century as normative features of the nation-state, human rights co-existed with imperial colonial systems. As aspirational values molded on the Western philosophical tradition, human rights also served as empowering tools in the moment of decolonization while simultaneously hampering claims to national independence. This is why, in the engagement with the ongoing legacies of colonialism, we have embarked on this symposium to examine human rights both as a language of critique and as a constitutive part of the imperial legacy.

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23 November 2021

Das Cannabis-Dilemma

Die zukünftige deutsche Bundesregierung will Cannabis legalisieren. Wie das alles konkret umgesetzt werden soll, wird sich zeigen. Worüber erstaunlich wenig diskutiert wird, ist die Frage, ob die Legalisierung rechtlich überhaupt realisierbar ist. Europa- und völkerrechtlich bestehen hohe Hürden, die eine vollständige Legalisierung von Cannabis sehr schwierig, wenn nicht sogar unmöglich machen.

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02 November 2021

Grinding the Orange Axe

On October 18th, 2021, the Venice Commission adopted its opinion on the Dutch childcare benefit scandal and highlighted, albeit reluctantly, several shortcomings regarding the Netherlands’ adherence to the rule of law: A lack of parliamentary scrutiny, a disrupted flow of information in bureaucratic bodies and the need for constitutional review. Despite the opinion’s inherent potential to provide a thorough substantive addition to the rule of law conversation, it fails at doing so due to its evasiveness and its hesitance to address complicated Dutch customs, such as the current caretaker cabinet.

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25 October 2021

Constitutional Review in Sight?

On 18 October, the Venice Commission published its first ever opinion on the Netherlands dealing with the Childcare Allowance Scandal. It includes a list of rather detailed recommendations for the legislator, the executive and the judicial branch, also pointing at the prohibition of constitutional review which is one of the hallmarks of the Dutch Constitution. While its conclusions are not groundbreaking, the opinion of the Venice Commission must be welcomed for highlighting the crucial connection between individual justice, proportionality and fundamental rights.

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15 June 2021

The Courts Strike Back

The Shell case, decided by the Hague District Court on 26 May 2021, is part of a growing body of climate cases. What the Shell case does is that it liberates the political-decision maker from the suffocating grip of investor state dispute settlement mechanisms, in particular the mechanism under the Energy Charter Treaty.

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