16 April 2012 - ‘Democracy in Europe was hard-earned by previous generations. It is our duty to watch over that democracy and pass it on to future generations. It is vital for development. But at the same time, we also have to take account of the local context.’ These observations were made by Minister for European Affairs and International Cooperation Ben Knapen in a speech delivered at the Partnership Days of the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD).
The NIMD works to bolster political parties, improve the ties between civil society and the political sphere, and strengthen international networks. According to the minster, ‘These objectives are a perfect fit with those of our development cooperation policy.’
Knapen’s aim is to achieve maximum efficiency and impact, and for that reason he is focusing on areas in which the Netherlands has proven expertise: food security, water, sexual heath and legal certainty in fragile states. ‘Obviously, promoting democracy is an element of our efforts,’ said the minister. ‘That’s the reason we will continue to support the NIMD in the years ahead.’
Mr Knapen praised the NIMD for its work with other international players and for encouraging countries to work together, citing the example of Indonesia and Egypt, which have been cooperating in establishing Schools for Democracy. The NIMD recently underwent a reorganisation and now has a new director, along with a Supervisory Board and an Advisory Council. Mr Knapen expressed his strong preference for an independent Supervisory Board, noting that, ‘Representatives of political parties are welcome in the Advisory Council, which advises the NIMD on its long-term strategy.’