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About us

The Netherlands Helsinki Committee is a growing non-governmental organization that promotes human rights, the rule of law and justice in all countries of wider Europe, including Eastern Europe, Western Balkans, Caucasus and Central Asia as well as the European Union. Building on our track record of 35 years, we consider it to be our mission to inspire, engage and support catalysts of change in building just and rights-respecting societies.

We believe that everybody can be a catalyst of change, and we are ready to support them by strengthening their capacities and by amplifying their voices through advocacy and campaigns. Our networks reach out to civil society, governments as well as the justice chain. We are able to mobilise the right peer-to-peer expertise and build bridges to bring about the change we need.


The Netherlands Helsinki Committee was founded in 1987 by Max van der Stoel (Dutch diplomat, Minister of Foreign Affairs and first OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities), Peter Baehr (professor of human rights at Utrecht University), Arie Bloed (former Editor-in-Chief of Security and Human Rights journal), and Pieter van Dijk (member of the Council of State of the Netherlands).

The name of the NHC refers to the Helsinki Final Act of 1975. The Final Act was the conclusion of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe, held as the relations between East and West were gradually thawing. Soon after the signing of the agreement, civil society groups emerged claiming that human rights should be complied with, one of the principles contained in the Final Act.

From 1982 to 2007, the International Helsinki Federation was the official umbrella organisation of Helsinki committees in a large number of countries. In 2011, a new network was formalised, the Civic Solidarity Platform, of which the NHC became a founding member.


Our oldest continuing activity is the publication of the journal Security and Human Rights (SHR), formerly known as Helsinki Monitor. The journal actively monitors and analyses aspects of the Helsinki process and the work of the OSCE with a particular focus on the intersection between security and human rights issues. In addition to the academic articles, the NHC also publishes policy, interview, and news pieces on the Security and Human Rights Monitor.


The work of the NHC takes place in all countries of wider Europe, including Eastern Europe, Western Balkans, Caucasus and Central Asia as well as the European Union. On occasion, on specific request from partners, the NHC expertise, or project management capacity, has been employed also outside the region.

Max van der Stoel in Vukovar, Croatia (Photo credit: OSCE)