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Evert Alkema: In Memoriam

13 June 2022

Evert Albert Alkema (18 January 1939 – 12 June 2022) was a Dutch jurist and professor of international law at the University of Leiden, who served on the European Commission of Human Rights from 1996 to 1999. Professor Alkema was also a prominent former member of the Netherlands Helsinki Committee. He passed away on 12 June 2022. The NHC would like to take this opportunity to offer condolences to his family and friends, and express gratitude for the mark he left on our organisation. With thanks to former and current Chairs Chair of the NHC’s Supervisory Board, Ian de Jong and Piet de Klerk, for their contributions.

As a prominent early member of the NHC, professor Alkema accomplished a great deal, promoting important reforms and legislation in the field of human rights and the rule of law in many Central and Eastern European countries. During his most active years in the Committee, between 1999 and 2011, professor Alkema was an important contributor towards the transition of our organization to an internationally recognised bastion in human rights defense across the OSCE area.

Professor Alkema was an International Law and Human Rights professor at Leiden University, from 1985-2003, where he played a key role in educating and influencing a whole generation of future legal experts and government officials. Alongside these key responsibilities, professor Alkema was also influential in Dutch legislation and policies. He published a number of books on subjects such as European basic human rights, the human dimensions of the OSCE and on the work of the European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg. From 2003-2017 he held the Van Asbeck chair on the relationship between national and international law. Moreover, from 2000 – 2004 he was a member in extraordinary capacity of the Netherlands Council of State.

Ernst Alkema was deeply involved in the dynamics of international organizations, and was a part of many discussions at the EU and the United Nations. As the Dutch ambassador to the UN in Geneva and head of The Netherlands delegation to the Human Rights Commission from 2002-2006, he showed outstanding resilience and perseverance to make international standards accepted and respected in practice, showing a great deal of commitment to the values he defended.