Blog Posts tagged with "The Hague"
These days The Hague, the Netherlands' third largest city, is most often in the news as the home of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the body that has recently indicted Muammar Gadaffi for war crimes or for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) which saw last week’s appearance of the former Bosnian Serb military general Ratko Mladic. Certainly both of these courts serve a valued purpose and The Hague -- with its history of hosting the first international peace conference in 1899 -- is a well-suited site for these courts.
But I recently got to see a different side of that city. I participated in two Interagency Steering Committee meetings at the Dutch Foreign Ministry there. The committee is preparing a table top exercise, called “COMMON EFFORT”, designed to ensure that the international community responds as one to future world crises. While we did not meet at the ICC or ICTY or even the UN International Court in the Peace Palace, we were near each of these venues and it was not lost on the participants that the work we were doing was meant to better address crises -- similar to those of Libya and the Balkans -- which spring from complex origins, and which require long lasting comprehensive solutions.
COMMON EFFORT is an initiative of the 1st German/Netherlands Corps, one of NATO’s High Readiness Headquarters, located in Muenster, Germany. The Corps has been successful in attracting more than 16 international organizations, among them the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and the Development Ministries of both Germany and the Netherlands, UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency), the International Committee of the Red Cross, EUCOM’s J9 Interagency Partnering Directorate, and non-government organizations like the Germany-based Kinderberg, think- tanks such as the Dutch Klingendaal, and a number of universities.
COMMON EFFORT recognizes that governmental organizations and NGO’s work side by side in a crisis area, though they often do not work together nor have common goals. The table top exercise set for September 19-22 is an effort by all participants to come together, outline common objectives and gain a better common understanding. This effort is building a “coalition” of multinational, interagency and NGO partners. EUCOM J9, for example, will participate as a small ten-person US Government response cell during the exercise, replicating the “3D’s” of defense, diplomacy, and development with the contributions of Civil Affairs personnel and interagency partners. And while the planning and coordinating certainly is slower using this expanded method vice pure military planning, it is the right thing to be doing.
Winston Churchill once said, “the only thing worse than fighting with allies, is fighting without them.” I am convinced that this type of broadened, interagency coalition partnering is the hallmark of this century. By partnering with the entire international community, we expand our definition of security and we prepare to respond to crisis areas with the long-term firmly in mind, cognizant that after military forces have been withdrawn the humanitarian sector will likely still be on the ground for years and hence our military goals should be informed by other’s goals.
Yes, The Hague (Dutch for “the Hedge”) is the home of a number of International Criminal Courts seeking to do justice on behalf of the world community for the most atrocious of crimes. But seen more optimistically, it is also the attractive capital of the Netherlands, an important political center for centuries, and home of one of the most famous paintings in the world, “Girl with a Pearl Earring”, painted by the Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer. Seen by many as the “Mona Lisa of the north”, this beautiful portrait was a much nicer memory of The Hague than the mug shots of Mladic, Karadic, or Gadaffi; a true “Dutch treat”.
Upon leaving The Hague, I was convinced that EUCOM, with its motto of “Stronger Together”, and the 1st German/Netherlands Corps, with their motto of “Communitate Valemus” (Together Strong), are both clearly on to something. This is the way that world crises in the 21st century should be addressed: together, in a comprehensive approach, involving the voices of many actors, both governmental and non-governmental.
Interagency Partnering Directorate