About the Netherlands Helsinki Committee
The Netherlands Helsinki Committee (NHC) is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that aims to promote the rule of law and full compliance with international human right standards, in particular within the societies of OSCE member States. The NHC seeks to reinforce and support the activities of governmental and non-governmental organisations.
The Netherlands Helsinki Committee was founded in 1987, counting among its founders Max van der Stoel (Dutch diplomat and later best known as OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities) and Arie Bloed (Currently editor-in-chief of the NHC's quarterly journal, "Security and Human Rights".)
The NHC finds its roots in the historic conclusion of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE), signed in Helsinki in 1975 by 35 nations of the two Cold War blocs, as the process of détente gradually appeased relations between East and West. Inspired by Principle VII of the Helsinki Act, by which the signatory States pledged to respect international Human Rights commitments, a number of courageous dissidents and intellectuals founded the Moscow Helsinki Group in 1976, which played a crucial role in holding the USSR to its Human Rights obligations. Citizens outside the Soviet Union followed this example and set up similar watchdog organisations, based on the principles of the Helsinki Act, in numerous signatory States.
The NHC focuses its activity around the work of the OSCE, the follow-up organisation of the 1975 Helsinki conference. The OSCE has developed an impressive array of commitments and activities on conflict prevention and the promotion of Human Rights, the rule of law and democratic values, in an area covering all of North America, Europe and the former Soviet Union. The NHC is active from "Vancouver to Vladivostok", with a strong focus on Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.
The NHC aims to develop both short- and long-term projects with a view to strengthen legal protections and improve public policies aimed at vulnerable or disadvantaged groups such as women, immigrants, economically marginalised people, convicts, ethnic minorities and human rights activists. In addition, the NHC actively engages in coalition-building to push for a more forceful implementation of the human dimension commitments of the OSCE. Besides its traditional focus on the OSCE, the NHC works towards improving the implementation of judgements of the European Court of Human Rights, which covers almost all countries in the OSCE region. It also works to promote a higher standard of Human Rights protection by the European Union in both its internal and external policies.
In addition to organising various international projects in partnership with governments and civil society partners, the NHC also publishes Security and Human Rights, a quarterly academic journal formerly known as the Helsinki Monitor, and maintains on this website a news section devoted to OSCE-related information and analysis.
Civil society coalitions
The NHC takes part in various civil society coalitions. It is a founding member of the OSCE-wide Civic Solidarity Platform, established in December 2010, and is also a member of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum, as well as participating in the Fundamental Rights Platform of the European Union. The NHC was also an active member of the coalition of organisations that organised the 2010 and 2011 civil society ‘parallel conferences,' held on the eve of the annual OSCE Head of Government and ministerial conferences.
Within the Netherlands, the NHC strives to stimulate discussion and awareness of recent developments concerning Human Rights in the OSCE area by organising debates and conferences. The Netherlands Helsinki Committee is also a member of the Dutch platform for Human Rights NGOs, which co-ordinates advocacy directed towards Dutch foreign policy-makers with regards to Human Rights issues.
For over 25 years the NHC has committed itself to promoting and protecting human rights and the rule of law in Europe.
Click here to support the work of the NHC.