Netherlands

Nuclear-weapon endorser: hosts nuclear weapons on its territory

Hosts 20 US nuclear weapons

Has not yet joined the TPNW

Summary

The Netherlands has not yet signed or ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

 

Nuclear weapons in the Netherlands

The Netherlands is one of five members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) to host US nuclear weapons on its territory as part of a nuclear-sharing agreement. The Dutch air force is assigned approximately 20 B61 nuclear bombs, which are deployed at Volkel Air Base.

A protest is held at the Volkel Air Base, where US nuclear weapons are stationed, on 22 January 2021 – the date of the treaty’s entry into force. Photo: ICAN

 

National position

The Netherlands has consistently voted against an annual UN General Assembly resolution since 2018 that welcomes the adoption of the treaty and calls upon all states to sign, ratify, or accede to it “at the earliest possible date”.

 

Political developments

In November 2018, the Dutch parliament called on the government to re-examine the treaty and to work to increase the support for the treaty among NATO members. The parliament also sought legal advice on the legislative requirements of becoming a state party.

In response to the parliament’s request, the Dutch foreign minister, Stef Blok, and defence minister, Ank Bijleveld, wrote in January 2019 that no changes would be needed to existing Dutch legislation if the Netherlands were to adhere to the treaty, but additional implementing legislation would be needed.

Pressure is mounting on the government to work for the removal of US nuclear weapons deployed in Dutch territory and to sign the treaty. The city of Amsterdam added its voice to the cause in January 2021 as the treaty entered into force.

 

Public opinion

A public opinion poll conducted by YouGov in November 2020 found that 78 per cent of Dutch people believe that their country should join the treaty, with just 7 per cent opposed to joining. Furthermore, 68 per cent believe that the Netherlands should be among the first NATO states to join, even if it faced pressure from allies not to do so.

The poll also found that 58 per cent of Dutch people want US nuclear weapons to be removed from Dutch territory – a requirement of the treaty.

ICAN campaigners in Utrecht, the Netherlands, launch the 2016 edition of Don’t Bank on the Bomb, a report by the Dutch organisation PAX. Photo: ICAN

 

Treaty negotiations

The Netherlands participated in the negotiation of the treaty at the United Nations in New York in 2017. It was the only NATO member to do so and the only state to vote against the adoption of the treaty. 

In explaining its vote, it said: “While we cannot support this treaty, we appreciate how it has placed nuclear disarmament in the limelight and created a broad momentum for disarmament.” It also said that it considers the treaty to be “incompatible with our commitments as a NATO state”.

In its opening statement to the negotiating conference, the Netherlands said that it could “support the concept of a legally binding instrument prohibiting nuclear weapons as an element of a nuclear-weapon-free world”.

In 2016, the Netherlands abstained from voting on the UN General Assembly resolution that established the formal mandate for states to commence negotiations on “a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination”. It was the only NATO member not to vote against the resolution.

In a document sent to NATO members ahead of the vote, the United States “strongly encourage[d]” members, including the Netherlands, to vote against the resolution, “not to merely abstain”. In addition, it said that, if the treaty negotiations do commence, allies and partners should “refrain from joining them”.

Pressure from the Dutch parliament and the public appeared to have a significant bearing on the Dutch government’s decision to participate in the negotiating conference.

Karel van Oosterom, the Dutch ambassador to the United Nations, speaks during the treaty negotiations in New York in June 2017. Photo: ICAN

Nuclear-weapon endorser: hosts nuclear weapons on its territory

Hosts 20 US nuclear weapons

Has not yet joined the TPNW

[HIGHLIGHTS]

Summary

The Netherlands has not yet signed or ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

 

Nuclear weapons in the Netherlands

The Netherlands is one of five members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) to host US nuclear weapons on its territory as part of a nuclear-sharing agreement. The Dutch air force is assigned approximately 20 B61 nuclear bombs, which are deployed at Volkel Air Base.

A protest is held at the Volkel Air Base, where US nuclear weapons are stationed, on 22 January 2021 – the date of the treaty’s entry into force. Photo: ICAN

 

National position

The Netherlands has consistently voted against an annual UN General Assembly resolution since 2018 that welcomes the adoption of the treaty and calls upon all states to sign, ratify, or accede to it “at the earliest possible date”.

 

Political developments

In November 2018, the Dutch parliament called on the government to re-examine the treaty and to work to increase the support for the treaty among NATO members. The parliament also sought legal advice on the legislative requirements of becoming a state party.

In response to the parliament’s request, the Dutch foreign minister, Stef Blok, and defence minister, Ank Bijleveld, wrote in January 2019 that no changes would be needed to existing Dutch legislation if the Netherlands were to adhere to the treaty, but additional implementing legislation would be needed.

Pressure is mounting on the government to work for the removal of US nuclear weapons deployed in Dutch territory and to sign the treaty. The city of Amsterdam added its voice to the cause in January 2021 as the treaty entered into force.

 

Public opinion

A public opinion poll conducted by YouGov in November 2020 found that 78 per cent of Dutch people believe that their country should join the treaty, with just 7 per cent opposed to joining. Furthermore, 68 per cent believe that the Netherlands should be among the first NATO states to join, even if it faced pressure from allies not to do so.

The poll also found that 58 per cent of Dutch people want US nuclear weapons to be removed from Dutch territory – a requirement of the treaty.

ICAN campaigners in Utrecht, the Netherlands, launch the 2016 edition of Don’t Bank on the Bomb, a report by the Dutch organisation PAX. Photo: ICAN

 

Treaty negotiations

The Netherlands participated in the negotiation of the treaty at the United Nations in New York in 2017. It was the only NATO member to do so and the only state to vote against the adoption of the treaty. 

In explaining its vote, it said: “While we cannot support this treaty, we appreciate how it has placed nuclear disarmament in the limelight and created a broad momentum for disarmament.” It also said that it considers the treaty to be “incompatible with our commitments as a NATO state”.

In its opening statement to the negotiating conference, the Netherlands said that it could “support the concept of a legally binding instrument prohibiting nuclear weapons as an element of a nuclear-weapon-free world”.

In 2016, the Netherlands abstained from voting on the UN General Assembly resolution that established the formal mandate for states to commence negotiations on “a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination”. It was the only NATO member not to vote against the resolution.

In a document sent to NATO members ahead of the vote, the United States “strongly encourage[d]” members, including the Netherlands, to vote against the resolution, “not to merely abstain”. In addition, it said that, if the treaty negotiations do commence, allies and partners should “refrain from joining them”.

Pressure from the Dutch parliament and the public appeared to have a significant bearing on the Dutch government’s decision to participate in the negotiating conference.

Karel van Oosterom, the Dutch ambassador to the United Nations, speaks during the treaty negotiations in New York in June 2017. Photo: ICAN

[PARTNERS]

Pax

website


Dutch Medical Association for Peace Research

website


Campagne Tegen Wapenhandel

website


Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (Netherlands)

website


NVMP 

Pugwash

website


Tribunaal voor de Vrede

website


Vrouwen voor Vrede

website


Burgemeesters voor Vrede 

website


Atheïstisch Verbond 

website

[LOCALSUPPORT]

Local support Get involved with ICAN in the Netherlands ›

Support in the Netherlands for the ICAN Parliamentary Pledge >

Support in the Netherlands for the ICAN Cities Appeal >

No events yet

Local support Get involved with ICAN in the Netherlands ›

Support in the Netherlands for the ICAN Parliamentary Pledge >

Support in the Netherlands for the ICAN Cities Appeal >

Find a local ICAN partner to get active Become an ICAN Partner Organization ›

  • Pax

    website

  • Dutch Medical Association for Peace Research

    website

  • Campagne Tegen Wapenhandel

    website

  • Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (Netherlands)

    website

  • NVMP 
  • Pugwash

    website

  • Tribunaal voor de Vrede

    website

  • Vrouwen voor Vrede

    website

  • Burgemeesters voor Vrede 

    website

  • Atheïstisch Verbond 

    website