Highlighted results

10,807,683 m2 land cleared of explosive remnants of war

286,086 people gained access to justice

679 trained mediators and negotiators in peace processes

Additional sources

Theory of Change

Download PDF document with the Theory of Change

Pathways for Peace

Report by the UN and World Bank on conflict prevention


One of the main goals of current Dutch policy on foreign trade and development cooperation is preventing violent conflict and instability. Activities on the theme of Security and the Rule of Law make a major contribution to pursuing this goal. The guiding framework for these activities is SDG 16 (just, inclusive and peaceful societies). Security and the rule of law are preconditions for sustainable peace and development. Instability and (the risk of) armed conflict make it more difficult to achieve the SDGs.

The Netherlands focuses on:

human security;

expanding access to justice;

promoting inclusive peace processes and building inclusive institutions.

The goal of the Netherlands’ activities in the field of security and the rule of law is to achieve ‘legitimate stability’, a situation in which people feel represented and safe. People are at the heart of this approach. By promoting human security, rule of law, peace processes and political governance, the Netherlands contributed to peaceful, just and inclusive societies, especially in the focus regions of the Sahel, the Horn of Africa, the Great Lakes, the Middle East and North Africa, and Afghanistan.

Results 2019

Human security

With the aim of enhancing human security, the Netherlands funded the demining of 10.8 million m2 of land, so that people can live and work safely. Dutch partner organisations also worked with the police and other security services to give the public better protection.

Rule of law

The Netherlands promoted access to justice internationally and organised an international conference in The Hague in February 2019. The conference culminated in the adoption of the Hague Declaration on Equal Access to Justice for All. A total of 39 countries committed themselves to the Declaration, or to other declarations based on it. With Dutch support, 286,086 people gained access to justice. The Netherlands also supported various transitional justice processes and innovative legal reforms.

Peace processes and political governance

The Netherlands helped make political decision-making and peace processes more inclusive. Efforts included setting up inclusive peace dialogues. 219 students graduated from Democracy Schools established with Dutch support and almost 700 mediators and negotiators were trained to play a constructive role in peace processes.

Result areas

Human security Rule of law Peace processes and political governance

Featured project security and rule of law

UN Peacebuilding Fund cross-border project (Burundi/Tanzania)

The Netherlands supports the UN Peacebuilding Fund, which works on peacebuilding and conflict prevention in some 40 fragile countries. To this end, the fund promotes political dialogue, reconciliation between ethnic and religious groups in conflict, and strengthening the capacity of state institutions. This project is carried out on the border between Burundi and Tanzania to reduce tensions between refugees, returning migrants and host populations. Its aim is to prevent future conflicts and build peaceful societies. The project is being implemented jointly by a number of UN agencies, which enhances the efficacy of the UN system.

UN Peacebuilding Fund cross-border project (Burundi/Tanzania)

Read more about the UN Peacebuilding Fund

Human security

Deminer from the HALO Trust in Afghanistan. Photo: HALO Trust.

Human security

This result area is aimed at enhancing human security. To this end, the Netherlands supports the reform of security institutions, for example to improve their relations with local communities. The Netherlands has supported the demining of 10.8 million m2 of land, so that people can live and work safely. The Netherlands also help to prevent violent extremism among vulnerable young people.

This work often takes place in unsecure conditions. Partners in countries like Mali, Libya and Syria sometimes had to suspend operations. In other cases, however, better results are achieved than expected. For example, more women than anticipated have been trained as deminers.

Open result area

Deminer from the HALO Trust in Afghanistan. Photo: HALO Trust.

People have an essential right to physical and mental integrity. This result area aims to enhance human security by reducing violence and fear. This contrasts with definitions of security that focus on the security of the state.

If a state can create and maintain security, it strengthens its relationship with its people. Mistreatment by the police and army increases the risk of radicalisation and violent extremism. A good relationship between the state and its people is therefore a key component of sustainable peace.

People can only work on their own future and the sustainable development of their communities if they feel safe. Human security is therefore the starting point of all our activities, from reform of national and local security institutions to demining land.



Number of square metres of land demined


On track

Dutch financial aid has helped demine more than 10.8 million m2 of land worldwide. The reduced threat has directly contributed to improving the lives of at least 513,864 people, a result that exceeded the target value by 55%.

The Netherlands is the eighth-largest donor in the field of humanitarian demining worldwide. 71% of mine victims in 2018 were civilians, 54% of them children. Humanitarian demining removes physical risks and reduces the number of victims of landmines and explosive remnants of war. This ultimately encourages a sense of safety among civilians, making humanitarian demining a precondition for the safe return of IDPs and for socioeconomic reconstruction activities to begin after a conflict has ended. Demining of critical infrastructure also improves access to basic services and increases safe access for humanitarian aid organisations and peace missions. Men and women from affected areas have been recruited and trained to perform demining activities. In addition to providing them with a source of income, this also guarantees the sustainability of the Netherlands’ efforts.


Number of professionals trained


On track

11,557 professionals trained

This indicator shows the combined number of professionals trained in the themes of this result area. The figure includes, for example, the number of trained peacekeepers, police officers, experts in security sector reform, civil servants, journalists, prison staff, members of women’s organisations, demining experts and teachers.

Professionals are trained worldwide as part of the projects the Netherlands support. Attending the training enables them to do their work better to protect local communities. The courses thus have a long-term positive impact on the local security situation.

A total of 11,557 people were trained in this reporting period. UN Women trained 37 female military personnel, giving them a greater chance of taking part in UN peace operations. The participation of female personnel contributes to the success of missions, as a more diverse team is better able to make contact with local communities. This strengthens the mission’s access to information and its local support.

With Dutch financial support, the White Helmets, officially known as Syria Civil Defence (SCD), have continued their mission to protect the civilian population. During the reporting period the SCD conducted 2,950 rescue operations in the war-torn country. It trained 484 volunteers to enable rescue operations to be carried out.

Progress in result area Human security

The Netherlands helps in various ways to reduce violence and fear among people. We helped demine 10.8 million m2 of land, so that people can once again live safely in these areas. Additionally, professionals have received training, including women who are future UN peacekeepers, police officers and deminers. The training enabled them to make a greater contribution to human security.

The Netherlands also helps improve the performance of formal and informal security institutions at both national and local level. These institutions must be effective, accountable (for example to parliament) and transparent, and listen to the public. The Netherlands’ partners were active in this area in Mali, Lebanon and Libya. People in South Sudan, Burundi and elsewhere indicated that they feel safer due to the work of our partners in the reporting period.

The deteriorating security situation and political developments in Mali, Libya, Syria and elsewhere made the work of our partners more difficult. Some partners had to leave Libya because of the violence in the country. The White Helmets in Syria, too, had to leave areas that had been captured by Syrian government forces.

Saving lives and enhancing community resilience through humanitarian demining in Afghanistan

In 2018 (the project’s reporting period) explosive remnants of war claimed an average of 111 civilian victims a month in Afghanistan, particularly children. The presence of landmines and improvised explosive devices has severe and sustained economic, social and psychological consequences for victims and their families. With Dutch support, the HALO Trust, cleared mines from 1,191,053 m2 of land in the north of Afghanistan. A total of 184 mines were found and destroyed, preventing 184 potential casualties and improving access to agricultural and residential land. With this project, HALO made a direct contribution to improving the lives of 6,912 people, including 1,016 internationally displaced people. A further 16,228 people can benefit from the cleared land. 136 local deminers are helping to make their communities safe. Lastly, HALO provided 9,742 children and adults with information on the risks posed by mines.

HALO Trust Afghanistan

Read more about the HALO Trust Afghanistan here

UNDP project: preventing violent extremism

UNDP project: preventing violent extremism

UNDP’s regional programme for Africa supports initiatives aimed at tackling the breeding ground for extremist ideologies, radicalisation and violence.

In the Lake Chad region, UNDP is helping communities reintegrate former Boko Haram fighters to prevent their re-joining violent militias.

UNDP is also organising training courses for police officers and traditional leaders in Somalia and providing people with legal advice in regions from which the Al-Shabaab terror group has been expelled, to help them gain access to justice.

UNDP regional Africa programme

Read more about UNDP’s work here

Rule of law

The International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) launched an interactive exhibition entitled ‘Voices of Memory’. The exhibition was made possible by the efforts of nine Tunisian women of various generations and from different regions.

Strengthening the rule of law

Promoting SDG 16.3 (access to justice) is a priority. Internationally, the Netherlands has contributed to achieving this goal as co-chair of the Task Force on Justice. The 2019 Justice for All report indicates that 1.5 billion people are unable to solve their legal problems. 253 million people live in situations, for example in conflict areas, in which they cannot rely on the rule of law. The Netherlands support access to justice for all, on the basis of human needs. In 2018/2019, 286,086 people, at least 63,860 of whom were women (22%), gained access to justice with Dutch support. The actual number of women is higher, given that the data for 133,076 people did not specify whether they were men or women.

Open result area

The International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) launched an interactive exhibition entitled ‘Voices of Memory’. The exhibition was made possible by the efforts of nine Tunisian women of various generations and from different regions.

Unsolved disputes are a cause of insecurity and conflict (UN/World Bank Pathways for Peace report, 2018). The Netherlands is an active partner in the international effort to promote access to justice and, as co-chair of the Task Force on Justice, organised an international conference on this topic in 2019. The conference resulted in The Hague Declaration (endorsed by the 18 participating countries), which emphasised the importance of more people-centred and innovative approaches based on data. The Netherlands also hosted a meeting of ten ministers of the g7+ group of countries that deal with violence and conflict. The meeting closed by adopting a Joint Action Plan based on The Hague Declaration.

The international Task Force on Justice described the scale of the justice gap in its 2019 report Justice for All. The report was used for the evaluation of SDG 16 at the 2019 UN High Level Political Forum. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres referred to figures in the report and emphasised the importance of access to justice as a basis for development.

Besides these international efforts, the Netherlands also works on increasing access to justice through its embassies and centrally funded programmes. These include programmes to provide legal information and legal aid and improve the performance of institutions in the sector. These activities focus on poorer and fragile countries that are experiencing or have experienced conflict. Supporting the victims of massive human rights violations and addressing these violations (‘transitional justice’) are a priority. Examples are support for the Peace Tribunal in Colombia and the Lausanne process on Syria. In the Lausanne process, the focus is on victims and strengthening the cooperation between UN and Syrian documentation and victims’ organisations. The Netherlands also pays special attention to women and other groups that experience difficulties in gaining access to justice.



Number of men and women with access to justice


On track

This indicator measures the number of people who have gained access to justice through a legal institution (formal or informal), to protect basic rights, try criminal offenses, and settle disputes.

We speak of access to justice when people have approached an institution to seek a solution for a legal issue or problem.

People’s justice needs are the main priority for the Netherlands. We call this a people-centred approach to access to justice. We contribute to increased access to justice for people in multiple countries, including Afghanistan, Burundi, Ethiopia, Jordan, Kenya, Mali, Pakistan, the Palestinian Territories, Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda.

To make this approach possible, the Netherlands focuses on data and innovation. Besides the formal legal sector, it also supports providing legal advice to people on low incomes. Innovative solutions supported by the Netherlands include a special court for sexual violence in South Sudan and the development of call centres, apps and websites for legal aid in Rwanda and elsewhere. A one-stop centre has also been established in the Palestinian Territories where a number of legal problems can be addressed at the same time.

The programmes are being implemented in fragile or conflict-affected countries and focus on those furthest behind, such as people in remote areas, women and children, IDPs and refugees, and victims of massive human rights violations (transitional justice).


Stronger formal and informal judicial institutions and inclusive reform initiatives


On track

Judicial institutions include formal state institutions (such as courts and police forces) and informal institutions that are not part of the state (such as alternative mechanisms for resolving disputes within communities).

Inclusive reform initiatives are initiatives that make judicial institutions fairer, more effective, more independent and more responsible. Their main focus is on helping institutions respond better to people’s needs and respect human rights.

Stronger formal and informal judicial institutions

1,251 judicial institutions, both formal and informal, were strengthened through partnerships. Key partners include the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Development Law Organization (IDLO). Through UNDP the Netherlands helps national authorities provide public services and strengthen trust between government and people. In Burundi, for example, UNDP set up an monitoring mechanism for victims of sexual violence. In Rwanda, IDLO strengthened the capacity of lawyers in court cases relating to the genocide.

Inclusive reform initiatives

It is essential to encourage institutions to respond to people’s needs. In this reporting period, the Netherlands supported 76 inclusive judicial reform initiatives. UNDP, for example, organised consultations in Afghanistan where local communities could exercise influence on the law on mediation in civil procedures.

Progress in result area Rule of law

We are expanding our international activities on SDG 16.3 in 2020 by

implementing The Hague Declaration in at least five countries;

starting programmes focused on those furthest behind, for example through UN Women;

continuation of our efforts to influence international policy.

Task Force on Justice

Promoting SDG 16.3 (access to justice) is a priority for the Netherlands on the international policy agenda. As co-chair of the international Task Force on Justice the Netherlands has taken an active role in promoting this SDG.

Task Force on Justice

Read more on the Task Force on Justice on the website

ICT for legal aid in Rwanda

ICT for legal aid in Rwanda

The Netherlands has funded a programme for the Legal Aid Forum in Rwanda, to make legal aid available to the people of the country. They can, for example, call *845# for free information and advice on various legal issues, such as sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and land rights. In this way, the programme also makes it possible for people in remote areas of Rwanda to obtain information on their rights to answer their justice needs. Most of the questions asked on *845# are about SGBV, and more than 40% of the callers are women.

Legal information and support

In Ethiopia the Netherlands supports the NGO Justice for All. The NGO works on various issues, including human rights, policy dialogue with government, press freedom and women’s rights.

Central to the work of Justice for All is training of police officers, prosecutors and prison staff. By providing legal information to prisoners and legal staff, facilitating pardons and clearing backlogs, the organisation expanded access to justice for 99,574 people (of which 25,000 with Dutch support).

Ethiopian NGO Justice for All

Read more about Ethiopian NGO Justice for All

Justice for All report

Link to the Justice for All report of the international Task Force on Justice.

Peace processes and political governance

Interpeace and the Malian Institute for Research–Action for Peace (IMRAP) are working to increase women’s participation in the police and other security services. This is a key factor in building people’s trust, which is essential for lasting peace.

Promoting inclusive peace and legitimate political governance

The Netherlands aims to make political processes more inclusive, to promote stability and to achieve sustainable peace. We do this by, for example, strengthening political parties and parliaments and encouraging more groups, for example young people and women, to participate in political decision-making. In 2018/2019, with support from the Dutch government, VNG International (the international cooperation agency of the Association of Netherlands Municipalities) trained people on issues like gender awareness and local governance. We also support inclusive peace processes: the Clingendael Mediation Facility has trained mediators and negotiators to play a constructive role in peace processes worldwide.

Open result area

Interpeace and the Malian Institute for Research–Action for Peace (IMRAP) are working to increase women’s participation in the police and other security services. This is a key factor in building people’s trust, which is essential for lasting peace.

The Netherlands promotes peace processes and inclusive and responsible governance. In doing so, we focus on strengthening and increasing the roles, voices and involvement of women and youth. We work in fragile and complex situations, which entails risks. Achieving and maintaining peace, preventing the recurrence of violence, and promoting social cohesion require a long-term commitment. Conflict sensitivity is the guiding principle of our involvement, to ensure that our interventions do not have unforeseen negative consequences.

Political governance

To contribute to open, inclusive and legitimate political systems, the Netherlands supported organisations like VNG International and the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD). In 2018, VNG trained more than 5,600 people in seven countries on themes like gender awareness, decentralisation, conflict sensitivity and local governance. NIMD organised educational activities, workshops and dialogues in which 5,201 people took part, including 2,432 women. In addition NIMD established special Democracy Schools in six countries, which focus on developing knowledge, skills, trust and mutual understanding between political and civil society actors. 219 people graduated from these schools in the reporting period. In South Sudan, under the leadership of the Ministry of Federal Affairs, the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) organised dialogues on federalism between actors in the peace process, including the government, the opposition and civil society. These dialogues gave women and youth the opportunity to take part in and exert influence on important political governance and policy issues.

Peace processes

To promote sustainable peace in fragile situations, the Netherlands supported third parties in facilitating inclusive peace agreements. For example, we supported mediation expertise to assist the UN Special Envoy for Yemen. In addition, the Clingendael Mediation Facility trained 344 mediators and 335 negotiators to play a constructive role in peace processes worldwide. In Niger the UN Peacebuilding Fund established 21 youth associations that focus on conflict mediation and strengthen the position of youth in their communities.

The Netherlands also supported activities to maintain peace and strengthen social cohesion. International Alert, for example, initiated peacebuilding activities in Lebanon, Mali, Nigeria, Rwanda and elsewhere. Through its network of local partners, the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) generated dialogues on peace processes in various conflict regions, including Uganda and the DRC. The World Bank’s State and Peacebuilding Fund is active in almost 60 fragile states. In Libya the fund organised a series of consultations on needs and priorities in the peace process and a strategy to implement them. At international level, the Netherlands is working to increase the effectiveness of large multilateral and regional organisations.

Progress in result area Peace processes and political governance

Political governance

Substantial results have been achieved, especially with training and coaching programmes aimed at national and local government officials. The challenging conditions in which we work, characterised by political instability and insecurity, sometimes lead to delays or adjustments to programmes. Our implementing partners constantly follow these developments and adapt themselves to these circumstances so as to achieve the desired results and implement lessons learned. Research and monitoring have shown, for example, that the legitimacy of government is strengthened more by actual participation in decision-making by increasing access to basic services.

Peace processes

It is difficult to assess progress made by peace processes, as it is not linear and they often take a long time. The risks are high and results can easily be undone by (geo)political changes. Peacebuilding and conflict prevention efforts supported by the Netherlands have achieved significant results, at times in the spotlight and at others behind the scenes, by promoting dialogue at all levels and creating the right preconditions for peace in a country. At the same time we have to be realistic about the extent to which our programmes can contribute to lasting peace worldwide. The Netherlands does not only aim to see substantial efforts on conflict prevention and peacebuilding, but also to ensure that they are as effective as possible. For that reason, in the coming year the Netherlands will continue to emphasise the importance of cooperation between international and multilateral organisations, in line with the UN reform agenda.

Nonviolent Peaceforce: Women's Role in Peacebuilding and Gender-Based Violence Prevention

This Nonviolent Peaceforce programme clearly shows how the various topics within the theme of Security and the Rule of Law are interrelated. It focuses on promoting the role of women in peacebuilding and in preventing gender-based violence in South Sudan. Community groups and 26 Women Protection Teams with more than 1,000 members have been set up as part of the programme, in cooperation with local and national authorities, to protect women, solve security problems, support victims, conduct awareness-raising campaigns and facilitate peace dialogues. These activities are even being carried out in remote rural communities. They have resulted in a better living environment for people in local communities and a sharp reduction in everyday violence. The rights of women are better respected and their participation in decision-making on peacebuilding, protection and security issues is being promoted.

Afghanistan Urban Safety and Security Programme (AUSSP)

Together with Switzerland, the Netherlands supports the Afghanistan Urban Safety and Security Programme (AUSSP). UN-Habitat is implementing the programme in close cooperation with the Afghan government in eight strategic cities: Kabul, Herat, Mazar-e Sharif, Jalalabad, Kunduz, Farah, Bamyan and Nili. The AUSSP’s aim is to involve women and men, and girls and boys in particular, in these urban areas in local decision-making processes, so as to restore trust in government. As part of the project, 41 Community Development Councils in these cities have started conducting security assessments and training and drawing up action plans.

Afghanistan Urban Safety and Security Programme (AUSSP)

Programme page on the UN-Habitat website

Building Constituencies for Peaceful Change in Sudan

In this Addressing Root Causes (ARC) project, people share information on security risks by telephone. The information can be discussed within the community or shared with others. That enables prompt action to be taken, which can prevent violence.

Background information theme security and rule of law


Our work on the theme of Security and the Rule of Law often takes place in fragile countries that score low on the Global Peace Index. Violent conflict increasingly occurs within states, with greater involvement of non-state armed groups and interference from foreign actors. The world has become less peaceful in the past ten years, though the situation did improve slightly worldwide in 2019. The 2019 Global Peace Index ranks the countries where the Netherlands has programmes on security and the rule of law as follows (from more to less unsafe): Afghanistan, Syria, South Sudan, Yemen, Somalia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, the Palestinian Territories, Burundi, Ethiopia and Kenya. Uganda, Rwanda and Indonesia are somewhat more peaceful.

Glimpse into the future

People remain at the centre of Dutch policy on security and the rule of law: we call this a people-centred approach. The Netherlands will further strengthen the role of vulnerable groups like women and young people in peace and political processes. Agreements with partners will be made to ensure that at least 50% of people with access to justice are women and girls. To increase the number of women and girls we reach, a new partnership with UN Women was started in 2019.

It is crucial to continue to underscore the importance of gender in programmes on security and the rule of law. It is also important to determine how the Netherlands can help reduce the risks of armed conflict, by taking a conflict-sensitive approach. Our embassy staff receive training on making their programmes more conflict-sensitive.

Monitoring, evaluation and learning

In 2019, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Policy and Operations Evaluation Department (IOB) published an evaluation of the Reconstruction programme and the Strategic Partnerships in Chronic Crises programme. The evaluation sheds light on the challenges of working in fragile areas and presents recommendations for improving the implementation of development policy. In the coming period, the Netherlands will invest in improving policy implementation by setting realistic goals, sharpening the focus of the portfolio and strengthening monitoring, evaluation and learning.

Additional sources

You can find exactly how the budget was allocated in 2019 and which projects were funded on our budget website.

  1. Visit the website
    Programme budget Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation
  2. Select financial year 2019
Knowledge Platform on Security and the Rule of Law

Knowledge Platform on Security and the Rule of Law, supported by the ministry

Facebook page

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Results overview

Download PDF document with all results

Expenditure by channel


The budget in this figure is for the year 2019 and does not completely correspond with the results on this page, which have been collected between Oct 2018 and Oct 2019. More information on this can be found on the 'About the results report' page.