Partners under Pressure? The Future of Civil Society in Dutch Human Rights Policy

Photograph: University of Essex

Human rights have since long been a cornerstone of Dutch foreign policy. The Dutch government has over the past years aimed to cooperate with civil society actors to improve human rights conditions worldwide. It has not gone unnoticed, however, that civil society is facing growing pressure in many countries. Civil society space and critical voices are being restricted. In this research project, LeidenAsiaCentre aimed at investigating what the implications are of this development for the Dutch efforts to include civil society actors in its human rights policy.


The research project consists of three individual but connected case studies: China, Russia and Saudi Arabia. In each case, recent developments within the respective civil societies are discussed and their impact investigated. Subsequently, the policy of cooperation with civil society actors in each country by the Dutch government is mapped, followed by an analysis of the implications of recent developments regarding civil society for this cooperation. Finally, the three individual cases are brought together in a comparative discussion. Ultimately, the aim of this project was to facilitate a public discussion and to provide concrete policy recommendations.


On March 12, 2018, the report “Partners under pressure-” was published. 


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Published On: January, 2018