The Netherlands have made a legal commitment to promote the development of the international legal order in Article 90 of its Constitution. As outlined above in the chapters on the mission deployment policy of KMar and the NP, this self-imposed duty is elaborated in the International Security Strategy (ISS); the dominant policy framework guiding government decisions to deploy NP or KMar-staff in international operations. In this strategy, ‘an effective international legal order’ is one of three leading strategic interests of the Netherlands, the other two being ‘defence of our own and our allies’ territory’ and ‘economic security’.[240] In the ISS and its 2014 update, these strategic interests have been translated into several more tangible policy implications.

As shown in the NP section (3.2) of this report, next to the ISS a second set of policy ambitions with regard to police deployment in missions exists. The desire to better align mission deployment with other police activities and to contribute to national security have been mentioned from the side of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (the departments of this Ministry responsible for the Police merged in 2010 with the Ministry of Justice in the Ministry for Security and Justice).[241] What should be understood by ‘contributing to national security’? Is it useful to distinguish national from international security policy goals? This suggests a contradiction that is for the most part false. The ambition to promote the international rule of law that forms part of the international security agenda in many cases also impacts the national security situation. Perhaps assisting a country in the Sahel region in building up democratic government structures will not have a direct impact on problems already dealt with by the Dutch police forces on their national territory, but it can contribute indirectly to preventing the Netherlands from future security threats.

As a logical consequence of their main responsibilities, the NP, the department of Security and Justice, mayors and public prosecutors under whose authority the NP operate, tend to focus on security problems that are taking place in real time and on national territory. Although estimates of future security developments are included in strategic policy agendas, when choosing priorities, threats and crime problems with a high actual impact dominate. Therefore, when thinking about national security objectives, the NP or the Ministry of Security and Justice tend to have another set of security issues in mind than Foreign Affairs or Defence policy makers.

Given that there is a strong interrelationship between the internal and external security situation, there should be benefits in creating or reinforcing a nexus between the programmes and the instruments used to intervene. This chapter seeks to assess what can realistically be expected of police deployment in international operations as an instrument used for the various nationally prioritised security policy goals. This focus at internal security objectives does not reflect the opinion that these objectives should dominate in deciding if and where to contribute policing capabilities to multilateral operations. As shown in chapter 2.1, the reasons for contributing can be manifold.

Since at the EU level, under pressure from the migration crisis, military and civilian actors are increasingly trying to operate in a coordinated fashion for border security, this chapter starts by discussing this development so as to lay a foundation for discussing other ways to link internal and external security objectives by way of police deployment in multilateral operations. The chapter continues with listing security issues with international links that impact the Netherlands and that can theoretically be served by police deployment in EU, UN, OSCE or NATO operations. It concludes with an exploration of the practical possibilities of using police deployment in missions for addressing these security issues.

3.1 The EU’s nexus CSDP-border security

Due to the vast increase in boat migration across the Mediterranean the EU’s border security has received attention from the highest political level in the Union. In April 2015 a European Council meeting was specifically dedicated to this issue, leading to the Council decision to launch a new military CSDP operation. Two months later, the European Union Naval Force Mediterranean (EUNAVFOR Med) operation was launched, tasked with undertaking systematic efforts to identify, capture and dispose of vessels and enabling assets used or suspected of being used by migrant smugglers or traffickers to be seized. The operation cooperates closely with Frontex, the Justice and Home Affairs agency that manages the EU’s external border cooperation.

Thus, practice has surpassed theory. While the linkage between external and internal security has been underlined since the European Security Strategy was launched in 2003, in reality the connection between CSDP activities that form part of the EU’s external security portfolio and those of the EU’s internal security actors has remained weak. The juridical and institutional separation but also different agendas – known as the dilemma between ‘gate-keeping’ and ‘state building’ – are main factors for explaining the lack of an integrated approach. EUNAVFOR-Med, which has been renamed Operation Sophia with the start of the second phase on 7 February 2016, has moved CSDP to the EU’s borders. The (military) external security instrument is now directly and visibly deployed in the context of strengthening the EU’s internal security. Conceptually both worlds are also coming together; take, for example, the EU Concept on CSDP support to Integrated Border Management, that aims to promote the EU’s concept of Integrated Border Management (IBM) abroad, which is currently being done in Libya, Rafah, Moldova and Ukraine.

From the summer of 2015 onwards, apart from the boat migration on the Mediterranean, Europe observed an enormous increase in migration from the (wider) MENA region. By the end of February 2016, the total number of irregular migrants detected in 2015 by Frontex is approximately 1.2 million. What tended to be a problem primarily for Southern European countries has now become an issue in all EU member states and serious problems have arisen in the Balkans, with migrants looking for a way to enter the EU.

One of the measures taken by the European Council in February 2016 is to reinforce Frontex and to enhance its mandate in order to develop a European Border and Coast Guard System. The importance of EU border security is likely to increase even further in the future, taking into account the future security risks and challenges in Europe’s neighbourhood. As military assets (and personnel) will be required to beef up the instruments required to deal with border security on a much larger scale than in the past, the old distinction between external CSDP crisis management missions and internal Frontex security operations will become outdated under the pressure of practical needs.

The European migration crisis might well change the different policy agendas and help to solve the problem of contradictory policy goals of the EU’s internal and external security actors. It might lead to more coherence between internal and external policy agendas on the national level as well. The call for upstream activities in order to stop the influx of irregular migrants in the Dutch political debate seems to indicate this. Police deployment in the EU’s external and internal security missions, which so far have been quite different, might in the near future increasingly become of a hybrid character in this respect, serving internal and external interests at the same time.

In fact civilian CSDP missions already contributed to internal security long before EUNAVFOR-Med was launched. By strengthening the rule of law and contributing to security sector reform and the capacity building of criminal justice structures in countries in the Balkans, the Middle East and Africa, CSDP civilian missions have helped to counter the risk potential of spill-over effects of instability and conflicts to Europe. They are linked by the same overall objective of “protecting the EU’s ‘safe’ internal space from an ‘unsafe’ external environment.” Since the area of security issues with (a potential) impact on the Netherlands that can theoretically be served by police deployment in missions is broader than the issue of migration, the next section seeks to take stock of the most prominent issues, based on national security policy documents.

3.2 Dutch policy goals and security issues

Deciding to deploy police officers to specific missions is up to the Dutch national government. Such decisions are prepared in the interdepartmental Steering Group Missions and Operations.[242] It is at these weekly Steering Group meetings, that are presided over by rotation between the MFA and Defence, that the different security policy interests that can potentially be served by police deployment abroad come together. Permanent members of the Steering Group are high-level officials from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Defence, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, General Affairs (the Prime Minister’s department) and Security and Justice. In this section the security policy priorities that determine the agenda(s) for these different stakeholders are discussed: the International Security Strategy, the National Security Strategy, the National Cyber Security Strategy and the Security Agenda.


Unlike in the case of military contributions to conflicts abroad,[243] there has not been a dedicated policy framework formulated for police deployment in international operations. However, as mentioned earlier, all direct stakeholders agree that the International Security Strategy (ISS) offers the dominant policy goals and motivations for deployment decisions. The leading strategic interests that the ISS formulates, being defence of our own and our allies’ territory, an effective international legal order and economic security, are translated into six policy implications:

The EU should become an even stronger actor in the area of security

Involvement in unstable regions near Europe


Disarmament and arms control

Integrated approach

Cooperation with the private sector[244]

With regard to mission deployment, the most important notions related to these policy approaches are:

The leading role of the EU in the area of security: ‘With its special representatives, its missions and operations, and its development cooperation programmes in the field of security, police services and criminal justice, the EU makes an important contribution to stability and security in other countries. (…) The Netherlands intends to contribute by supporting missions and by pressing for greater coherence in the activities of the different EU institutions.’

Although in formulating the main strategic interests, the interest of national security – apart from territorial and economic security - remains implicit in the ISS, the focus on unstable regions near Europe is justified as follows: ‘Events on the edge of the European Union have a direct impact on our own security and prosperity. The Netherlands has decided to step up its involvement in the Arab region in the knowledge that a number of countries there are in a crucial transitional phase will determine the stability of Europe’s external borders over the next few decades. Contributing to democratisation and, therefore, stabilisation in the neighbouring region to the south will enable us to contain the risk of illegal migration and reduce the threat of terrorism.’

Under ‘prevention’ a whole variety of activities and security issues are bundled, ranging from the prevention of organised crime, issues of cyber insecurity and (nuclear) terrorism, to preventing environmental change and conflict prevention. Prevention activities in these areas lean on an extensive set of measures, initiatives and instruments, mission deployment being only one of them. But if the ISS is the dominant policy framework for deciding on mission deployment, potential contributions of (police deployment in) missions to preventing these forms of insecurity will probably be considered as an asset.

Somewhat more in detail, the ‘prevention of organised crime’ is translated into objectives such as safeguarding the integrity of governments, an adequate international anti-money laundering regime and solid border control. Spill-over effects from drugs and weapons trafficking and illegal migration coming from the Caribbean region are to be prevented by active involvement in this region. The priority of disarmament and arms control focuses mainly on banning weapons of mass destruction and on nuclear disarmament through active participation in the relevant international structures and platforms. Since the integrated approach and cooperation with the private sector are in fact instrumental to the actual policy goals, they will not be further discussed here.

Policy Paper on International Security[245]

Reacting to increasing instability on both the Eastern and Southern borders of the European Union and in the Levant, the ISS was re-estimated by a policy paper in 2014, that in fact reconfirms all of the six policy lines articulated in the ISS. The focus on unstable regions in the EU’s immediate neighbourhood and the key role of the EU as a security actor are stressed as having gained importance. New in this policy paper is an emphasis on long-term investments and commitments in relation to crises that are foreseen to endure. A good balance should be found between ‘fast security’, i.e. tackling the acute symptoms of crises, and ‘slow security’, as in developing multiannual, strategic approaches to address the underlying causes of instability. Also, the paper highlights the importance of the OSCE as a security and political actor contributing to a solution of the Ukraine Crisis.

Other than in the ISS, the 2014 paper expresses the need to focus on organised crime in relation to mission deployment: “When undertaking UN and EU missions – and deciding on how the Netherlands is going to contribute to them – account should be taken of the impact of emerging transnational organised crime, whether aimed directly or indirectly at the Netherlands or Western Europe. Strengthening local and regional rule of law structures should therefore be explicitly included in the missions’ mandates.”[246]

In the policy paper, the interconnectedness of internal and external security is acknowledged. It calls for good coordination ‘between the various government bodies concerned with national and international security’. Therefore, the policy letter is ‘tied in’ with the national security strategy, the national counterterrorism strategy and the national cyber security strategy.[247] However, this paper does not ‘translate’ the linkages between these strategies into coordinated priorities, neither does it stipulate how to implement these in an integrated manner. Also, the National Priorities for the Netherlands Police are formulated in the Security Agenda, discussed below, that is not ‘tied in’ with the ISS and its follow-up police paper. Since there are no policy documents that provide for these gaps, the interpretation and implementation of security priorities continues to be a stove-piped exercise.

National security strategy

The National Security Strategy dates from 2007. It focuses on the protection of society and population on Dutch territory; the strategy also speaks of the ‘vital interests of the state’ against internal and external threats. The strategy defines national security as being jeopardised when vital interests of the state and/or society are threatened to an extent that might lead to social disruption.[248] Five vital interests are discerned: territorial safety, economic security, ecological safety, physical safety and social and political safety. In 2007 the NSS identified the following threats that are of potential relevance in decision making regarding Dutch contributions to missions:

Violations of international peace and security
Proliferation of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons
International organised crime
Digital insecurity
Economic insecurity

Since 2007, as part of the methodology of the National Security Strategy, each year a small number of scenarios have been elaborated. These scenarios add up to the National Risk Assessment. They have formed the basis for the measures taken by the government in order to adequately react to, counter or identify threats. A new, overarching assessment of national security threats, the first one since 2007, is planned to be published in 2016. The NSS is currently not designed in such a way that it can easily be plugged into the decision-making framework for (police) mission deployment abroad, since it lacks a recent overall analysis of threats to Dutch vital interests. Since the National Security Strategy and the underlying National Risk Assessments have already been taken into account by the International Security Strategy, no additional policy goals for mission deployment derive from these documents.

National counterterrorism strategy[249]

The National counterterrorism strategy 2011-2015 was sent to Parliament in 2011 by the Minister of Security & Justice. Since 2007 counterterrorism interventions by the Dutch government have been centrally coordinated by the National Terrorism and Security Coordinator who acts under the authority of the department of S&J. This strategy promotes a comprehensive approach. Its overall objective is ‘to reduce the risk and the fear of terrorist attacks and to limit the possible damage following any attack’ (p. 7).

The prime terrorist threat identified in this document is jihadism (p. 110). The strategy to counter this and other terrorist threats, such as non-religious extremist groups and non-jihadi international terrorist groups, is organised in 4 clusters:

International jihadism

Migration and travel movements

Technology and innovation

Continued development of the surveillance and protection systems.

Measures that can be linked to Dutch contributions to international missions can be found in the first cluster. The strategy stresses that the ‘terrorist threat is first and foremost international in nature and (partly as a result) largely unpredictable and changeable’( 7). Direct reference to Dutch counterterrorism activities abroad is the recognition that transnational jihadist networks’ ability to act is fuelled by developments in conflict areas abroad. This leads to the Dutch aim to contribute ‘internationally to preventing and neutralising any further escalation in the jihadist conflict areas. It is essential to have an insight into the developments in these regions and the resulting risks. The cohesion between foreign policy, the armed forces, intelligence and national counterterrorism policy aimed at the respective regions will be further encouraged, both at policy level and locally where possible’ (111). Although it is conceivable that mission deployment can also contribute to the strategic cluster of ‘migration and travel movements’, the focus here is on preventing Dutch migration policy being misused for terrorist aims, preventing travel movements to and from training camps and terrorist conflict areas and at improving border surveillance. Although cooperation with international partners is mentioned, the Strategy does not directly make a link with foreign policy here (111).

National cyber security strategy[250]

The second national cyber security strategy, issued in 2013, is more focused than the first version on international capacity building. Also, cyber security is a domain where civil-military cooperation is considered of vital importance, as a reflection of the increasingly hybrid civil/military background of the sources of cyber threats. Digital capacities of Defence are active in preventing and countering cyber-attacks on Dutch civil infrastructures. The international agenda regarding cyber security focuses on harmonising legislation and on international cooperation on platforms such as Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre. There is no reference to the possibility of police deployment in international missions for the purpose of cyber security. Therefore, this National Cyber Security Strategy will not be further discussed here. In case of a future demand for the contribution of police expertise in this field to international missions, however, as shown in chapter 3, the Netherlands can offer a relatively high level of expertise in this niche of policing.

Security Agenda 2015-2018[251]

While it is the International Security Strategy that serves as the main policy framework in relation to the deployment of Dutch military or police forces in international missions, in deploying staff of the NP there is also the ambition to coordinate this with police activities on national territory. The national priorities for the NP are negotiated in a four–year cycle by the mayors of ten Dutch security regions, the president of the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the Minister of Security and Justice.

In setting priorities for the NP, the Security Agenda is complementary to local and regional Security Agendas that deal with local and regional issues. National policy objectives for the NP are formulated in the Security Agenda when there is added value in a nationally coordinated strategy or interventions. In the Security Agenda 2015-2018 this has been the case for forms of crime with an undermining impact on society, horizontal fraud (fraud between citizens), child pornography and high-impact crimes, such as armed robberies. So-called ‘undermining crime’ is not strictly defined, but includes activities on drug markets or in the (sexual) exploitation of human beings that are profitable to the extent that they result in a certain economic power for the offenders. In many government documents ‘undermining’ is used as a synonym to organised crime. Activities to counter undermining crime are based on a multi-agency, comprehensive approach, that can include inter alia health care agencies, fiscal and administrative authorities.

The Security Agenda 2015-2108 tasks the department of Security and Justice to reinforce international efforts in countering undermining crime and cybercrime and to harmonise the activities of the NP and their national partners with other departments. This harmonisation of activities can be based on strategy documents that elaborate in detail the chosen approach to undermining and other forms of crime and strategic country programmes that combine and coordinate international police activities with a list of prioritised countries and regions.

After the centralisation of the Dutch Police had started, in 2013 strategic country programmes (SCPs) were drafted for seventeen countries that were selected based on the intensity of their criminal ties with the Netherlands. The need for cooperation and/or long-term partnerships with countries like the USA and China formed a second ground for inclusion in the list of SCPs. Since 2013 the NP and the Ministry of S&J have formulated SCPs for the following countries: Belgium, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Morocco, Australia, China, Colombia, Suriname, and the USA.[252] Russia was added at a later stage. Although the system of strategic country programmes is currently subject to evaluation and will perhaps be altered in the near future, the policy objectives that led to their installation are still in place: focusing the dedication of resources to a select set of countries; a comprehensive approach to the different forms of crime and criminal cooperation related to these countries, in order to maximise the security effect for the Netherlands and be a reliable partner in international police cooperation.[253]

Migration policy agenda

Where above some international security issues that can lead to spill-over effects in Europe or the Netherlands have been discussed, migration is a spill-over effect in itself. Chapter 2 showed an increasing demand for border control expertise to be deployed in CSDP and Frontex operations. The Ministry of Security and Justice is responsible for the border protection tasks of KMar and also for their deployment in Frontex operations. National migration policy is to a large extent interlinked with European policymaking. In May 2015 the European Commission published the European Agenda on Migration that was positively received by the Dutch government.[254] This Agenda partly deals with the immediate action that is necessary in order to prevent humanitarian tragedies. One of the measures proposed is adding border management components to CSDP missions in countries like Niger and Mali. Another measure potentially involving the KMar or NP is the deployment of the European Asylum Support Office, Frontex and Europol to hotspots for migration to assist frontline member states in swiftly identifying, registering and fingerprinting incoming migrants. In order to ‘manage migration better’ the Agenda inter alia elaborates measures aimed at reducing the incentives for irregular migration and border management measures focused on saving lives and securing external borders.[255]

On the national level, four priorities in the area of migration and development that were first outlined in a policy paper sent to Parliament in November 2014 by the Directorate General of the Ministry of Security and Justice dealing with immigration issues, were reconfirmed by the relevant Ministers in November 2015:[256]

Enhance migration management;
Co-operation with governments and host communities in relation to the facilities for refugees;
Involving diaspora in the development of its country of origin;
Promoting volunteer return and sustainable reintegration.

The KMar has been referred to as a provider of expertise in setting up effective migration management systems, and in countering people smuggling and human trafficking.[257]

In conclusion, the variety of strategies and policy agendas discussed here shows that the Netherlands lacks an integrated (international) security agenda. Although the stakeholders agree on the dominance of the ISS, in reality several other agendas exist and play a role. The section on the European Union shows that stove-piped trajectories of internal and external security policy making are not an exclusively feature of Dutch policymaking, although in the EU in 2015 important steps forward have been taken. As the European migration crisis is seen as both an internal and an external security issue, the instruments to tackle it have increasingly converged. In the Netherlands, security agendas diverge: the NP, National Prosecutions office and Ministry of Security and Justice concentrate on the most pressing security issues that take place in the actual situation within national borders, while the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defence focus on conflicts or crises abroad and their (future) effects in the Netherlands.

Though not harmonised to a full degree, an overlap does exist between the agendas. The different security policy lines find each other in themes like the prevention of cyber insecurity, organised crime and terrorism. Also, there seems to be a consensus in the focus on unstable regions in the EU’s neighbouring areas in the South, the East (the updated policy letter also mentions IS) and the relatively unstable areas within Europe (although strategic country programmes also prioritise regions in the Americas). Cyber security and foreign terrorist fighters have been selected as topics (niches) which have been prioritised for the prevention of future conflicts with a direct effect on Dutch security interests. Also, these are considered to be fields where the Netherlands is able to strongly operate/contribute internationally. A shared aim is to optimise Dutch (police) contributions to missions and, through mission contribution and by means of other influencing channels, the working and effectiveness of missions themselves. Derived from the different policy documents, a set of transnational threats that can potentially be served by the deployment of the KMar or NP abroad should at least include:

Terrorism, especially jihadism and foreign terrorist fighters

Transnational organised crime

Cyber insecurity

Economic insecurity

Irregular Migration, including people smuggling and trafficking in human beings

The next section takes stock of the possible ways to serve these Dutch security interests by deploying police in missions abroad.

3.3 Contribution of police deployment abroad to Dutch security policy goals

This section aims to map ways to counter national security threats (that can have international causes or other links) by deploying police officers, that is Police or KMar-staff in operations of the EU, UN, NATO and OSCE. The section does not provide full evaluations of past mission deployments in the light of internal security effects, nor does it result in an exhaustive listing of possible future gains. It should be seen as a starting point for further discussion and study. As stressed before, the justification for contributing to international missions abroad can be manifold. The fact that this section focuses at internal security objectives is no reflection of any opinion that these objectives should dominate.

As shown above, security is a broad term. The National Security Strategy defines national security as being jeopardised when one of the five vital interests of the State, being territorial safety, economic security, ecologic safety, physical safety or social and political safety is threatened to an extent that might lead to social disruption.[258] This section focuses on the security issues potentially dealt with by the NP or KMar. These issues include organised crime forms like trafficking in illicit drugs and weapons, money laundering, terrorism, cybercrime (cyber insecurity), high impact crimes, fraud and mobile banditry, migration and migration-related issues such as trafficking in human beings, labour exploitation and people smuggling, but also social unrest and public disorder.

In order to assess the internal security outcomes of mission deployment, it seems useful to discern direct from indirect effects. Direct effects can be witnessed where mission activities affect issues that play a role in the Dutch internal security situation at, or shortly after the time of intervention. For example: the mission impedes the activities of a human trafficking network in the country of deployment and thereby also of its activities in the Netherlands. Mission activities that have an indirect effect prevent the occurrence of future security problems in the Netherlands. E.g.: by helping to establish the rule of law in a country, it becomes less permissive for transnational organised crime. And hence there is less possibility of the spill-over of criminal activities to the Netherlands. Apart from having a direct or indirect effect, deployment to missions can have a positive effect on policing skills and other personal competencies. Also, it may contribute to a good network of international relations for the NP or KMar. These human resources and network effects are assets that the Australian police refer to as ‘reverse capacity building’.

In the so-called Article 100 letters[259], that motivate individual deployments of Dutch military, KMar or the NP, examples can be found of national security motivations for mission deployment. The deployment of a large contingent of foremost military, but also KMar and NP staff to the UN MINUSMA Mission to Mali has been justified starting with the articulation of Dutch interests. This accent on internal security benefits of the Dutch contribution to MINUSMA, and the fact that at the time of writing it is the largest deployment of Dutch troops, make it an interesting case to start this section with. In the box text, the deployment of Dutch troops and police to MINUSMA serves to illustrate internal/external security motivations, aims and results.


‘Contributing to this UN-mission serves several Dutch interests. The Netherlands benefits from international security, stability and a well-functioning rule of law. In the recently published International Security Strategy (ISS), the government has declared that it will focus on instable regions near Europe in realising these strategic goals. The Sahel region in Africa is such a region. (…) It is of importance to tackle problems in their source countries and not to wait until they spill over to Europe and the Netherlands.’[260]


In interviews held with mission experts, policy makers, managers and NP and KMar staff with mission experience, some potential and realised effects from mission deployment on national security have been identified. Although, in general, most respondents warned that expectations are often unrealistic. The first challenge of peacekeeping operations or other missions is being effective at all. As seen in chapter 2, this is not always the case. If an impact on national security in the donor countries of police staff should occur, it is mostly of an indirect nature: if a mission succeeds to a certain degree in stabilising a conflict, or in building up governmental structures, potential spill-over effects caused by the conflict or by inadequate governmental control over security may be reduced.

Below, possible opportunities to optimise the impact of the deployment in police missions on national security are identified, distinguishing several phases of (deployment in) a mission. The proactive phase and the debriefing phase refer to the organisation of mission deployment in the Netherlands. The design phase and operational phase refer to the mission as such.

Proactive phase

Assuming that there is a possible impact on the (future) national security situation, a first opportunity to realise this lies in the proactive phase of selecting missions to contribute to. Based on a solid insight into the ongoing and planned police activities of IOs, missions with aims and mandates that fit national security objectives can be proactively selected. In general, from the internal security perspective, the EU and OSCE, both focusing on European security, offer good potential fits. The EU explicitly aims to harmonise its internal and external security agenda and, in doing so, it develops channels for information exchange between CDSP and agencies such as Europol and Frontex. It also tries to involve its internal security agencies in developing mandates for CSDP missions, see in the box text below. The OSCE offers the advantage of an extensive stable law enforcement network on (both sides of) the Eastern and South-Eastern EU borders. Looking at the OSCE field activities, countering organised crime and human trafficking have been a steady focus.

At the Ministry of Security and Justice EU missions are perceived to be more effective, and have shorter communication channels. The ISS makes this preference explicit and justifies it by stressing the primary role of the EU as a security provider in Europe and in its vicinity. However, the list of Strategic Country Programmes of the Netherlands Police that has been referred to, and the locations where the NP and KMar have liaison officers installed[267], show that the need for international cooperation from an internal (police) security perspective goes far beyond the immediate vicinity of Europe. People smuggling and drug trafficking routes run as far as South America (cocaine, human trafficking), China (people smuggling, precursors for synthetic drugs), South Africa (a hot spot for several drug trafficking routes) and the Middle and Far East (source countries for heroin, human trafficking). For security and budgetary reasons, these international networks do not cover all countries where the NP and KMar have interests. Participating in a mission, should there be one in a relevant region, can be used as a vehicle to build up networks in countries or in administrations that are not covered by direct bilateral police networks.

In proactively selecting missions that fit national security aims, a good knowledge of the demand for police deployment and the geopolitical situation is mandatory, next to a well-analysed international programme of security interests for both the NP and KMar.

Design phase

In the early stage of mission organisation, when mandates are being designed and key roles appointed, national security goals can be taken into account in the political process of initiating and approving missions. Also, in this phase, occupying high strategic functions from the start increases national influence on the mission’s activities and mandate. The precondition of having an insight into the IOs’ demand for police and in the relevant national security interests that are to be served, already mentioned in relation to the proactive phase, is just as relevant in order to be effective in the design phase.

Steps are being taken to increase the role of Europol in designing mandates for CSDP-missions. Since a MOU has been signed between Europol and EEAS in December 2014, there are few formal obstacles standing in the way of using Europol’s intelligence position when formulating the objectives for CSDP activities in crisis situations that affect the EU’s internal security. Europol’s involvement in the EU’s SSR activities in Ukraine may serve as an example. See the box text below.

Operational phase

After having selected or co-created a mission that corresponds with national security objectives, operating in such a mission is the moment to harvest results, in terms of direct or indirect effects, or of contributing intelligence to or increasing knowledge of national security actors. Sometimes the result of a mission is a one on one fit to the desired security intervention from a national perspective. An example of this are the efforts of KMar airport security experts in Kosovo that led to bringing the main airport up to international security standards. A result that perfectly matches the NCTV counterterrorism strategy that calls for an intensified monitoring of migration flows.

In some cases the possible impact on national security is evidently larger than a national initiative could have had. The phenomenon of piracy may serve as a showcase example, since it is a phenomenon that takes place far from Dutch national territory, but it clearly affects the safety of Dutch shipping and Dutch economic interests.

Interviewees state that by aiming at deploying officers at a high strategic management level increases the ability to influence the operations or even mandates. Besides this, in order to be optimally and recognisably effective, it is advisable to deploy three or four persons as a group. The UN’s deployment concept of Specialised Police Teams offers a possibility for securing grip on the tasks performed. A good integration of the Dutch (civil) contingent that functions in a mission can also help to increase the national influence on and therefore the national outcomes of a mission. Clear instructions to the officers that are to be deployed prior to their departure and solid communication about the specific reasons and objectives for each particular deployment from the side of the Dutch sending organisation can be brought to a higher level. Also, contact during the mission and a solid and mandatory reporting schedule for the deployed staff, related to these objectives, can be a considerable improvement in this respect.

An important side-effect of mission deployment in the operational phase can in theory be the exchange of operational or strategic information that is of relevance to Dutch security or policing agencies. In most cases, dependent on the mission’s mandate, intelligence is only for the mission’s own security purposes and it is explicitly forbidden to share it with parties outside the mission or IO’s administration. Sometimes, the sharing of strategic information and unclassified intelligence with donor countries is permitted. To a growing extent, CSDP missions can offer a framework that allows for sharing intelligence with internal security actors. In 2011 the European Commission, its member states and the EEAS adopted the strategic Road Map “Strengthening Ties between CSDP and FSJ”,[268] which included a number of suggestions to improve cooperation between Europol and CSDP police missions. In Europol’s External Strategy 2010-2014,[269] possible solutions allowing for the direct sharing of information between Europol and CSDP police missions have been examined, see the box text.

Cooperation between Europol/EEAS

In 2014 a new administrative arrangement between the EEAS and Europol entered into force, providing a framework for interinstitutional cooperation. Cooperation and information exchange has already been possible since 2005, based on an agreement signed in 2005 by Javier Solana and Europol. This took place before the establishment of the EEAS, hence additional arrangements were necessary.


As result of the Roadmap, similar interaction initiatives are taken between CSDP missions and Frontex and Eurojust. Also, Europol and NATO are taking the first steps in exploring possibilities to cooperate.

Debriefing phase

A return of investment from mission deployment cannot only be found in serving national security policy goals. In an article on the ‘influence of peacekeeping missions on the police organisation’ the researcher Henk Sollie introduces the term of ‘dividend’ in relation to sending police officers abroad. This dividend refers to positive human resource effects from having been deployed in a mission. Policing and personal competencies gained abroad flow back to the donor organisations. Next to these human resource effects, theoretically, a return of investment from mission deployment can materialise in building up a useful network abroad (future intelligence or information exchange or operational cooperation) and in gained insight into security problems.

According to Sollie, the NP - Sollie does not focus on the KMar in this article - fails to benefit from this mission dividend. Sollie warns that the organisation of the NP shows a lack of functional debriefing after a return from a mission, leading to inadequate use of experience, country information and useful contacts gained from mission deployments by the organisation of the NP.[271] This lack of a structured functional debriefing has been confirmed by interviewees who have recently taken part in missions on behalf of the NP. However, new efforts have been made by the NP to find relevant re-employment for police officers after their return, for example by employing them in policing asylum seekers’ and refugees’ facilities.


On the down side, some important pitfalls have to be highlighted: National agendas can harm the relationship with host countries and other stakeholders in missions and even the realisation of a mission. The case of the EUCAP Sahel Libya has shown a negative result in launching a mission with a strong internal security signature. The hosting state in question refused further collaboration as it felt that its own security interests were not being sufficiently prioritised. Also, too detailed national wish lists that are to be included in missions’ mandates or designs can be counterproductive in the actual theatre. The Dutch efforts to train police officers in Afghanistan within the framework of EUPOL may serve as an example. A final point of consideration is that there might be other roads to Rome that are more direct and effective: bilateral initiatives, installing liaison officers or Joint Investigation Teams will in some cases be the best way to go forward.

3.4 Sub-conclusion

In this section ways to counter national security threats by deploying NP or KMar staff in operations of the EU, UN, NATO and OSCE, have been mapped. Reference has been made to the fact that national security threats that form the workload of both the KMar and NP in many cases have international links. Based on interviews and literature, examples have been presented of what in reality can be done, what has been done (and with what result) and what more could be done.

In countering phenomena such as drug trafficking, weapons smuggling, money laundering, terrorism and cybercrime the chance of sorting direct operational effects by the deployment of the NP and KMar in missions should not be overestimated. Probably in most cases, when a particular kind of intelligence is needed for national security reasons or when certain security interventions have to be carried out, bilateral police cooperation, intelligence sharing via the existing multilateral channels, or multilateral police cooperation in dedicated Joint Investigation Teams is probably the more effective route to be taken. Migration and migration-related issues such as trafficking in human beings, labour exploitation and people smuggling, are different to the extent that the EU has recently launched missions that have particularly focussed on these issues, with an approach that has its roots in the recognition of the nexus between internal and external security and that brings together internal and external security instruments. Participation in these missions therefore explicitly aims at direct effects on national security. Indirect effects of mission deployment, where future spill-over effects from crises or conflicts are to be countered, can be found when efforts in creating stability in countries in, for example, Europe’s neighbouring regions succeed.

Several ways to optimise the impact of the deployment in police missions on national security have been mentioned. This section discussed these means and opportunities, distinguishing several phases of (deployment in) a mission. All these phases bring their own opportunities to increase internal security effects. The best occasions for increasing harmony between the goals of missions to contribute to and the national security effects are to be found in the proactive phase where missions can be selected that might be interesting from a national security perspective. Also in the early phases of preparing missions, active Dutch involvement can increase the influence on mandate and mission design and enhance the chances of acquiring leading positions in these missions. The operational phase is the moment when security and reverse capacity-building effects should be realised. Improvements can be made in briefing and debriefing between the sending authorities and deployed staff. It is worthwhile to assess the growing practice of information exchange between the EU’s CSDP and the EU’s internal security agencies, in order to learn what possibilities this offers for direct operational effects from police deployment in missions. After their return, the deployed NP and KMar staff can enrich their organisations with valuable experience, gained personal competencies and an enhanced international network and, possibly, with valuable knowledge about the security situation in the region of deployment.

To make full use of the opportunities to influence the organisation of missions and the Dutch role in these missions, close ties with the key organisational structures of missions and police deployment at the IOs’ headquarters are essential. In order to fully benefit from the reverse capacity-building effect, personal and functional debriefing procedures for the sending organisations should be of a high professional standard.

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Inzet Nederlandse politie en Koninklijke Marechaussee bij internationale civiele politie-operaties, Document 27476 nr 14, Netherlands Minister of Internal Affairs and Kingdom Relations, The Hague, 5 November 2008
Stuurgroep Missies en Operaties, abbreviated as SMO.
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International Security Strategy – A Secure Netherlands in a Secure World, Government of the Netherlands, The Hague, June 2013
Beleidsbrief Internationale Veiligheid – Turbulente Tijden in een Instabiele Omgeving, Netherlands Minister of Foreign Affairs, The Hague, 2014
Id., p. 2
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Article 100 refers to the Dutch Constitution, where it provides the legal basis and democratic procedures for government decisions to enforce and promote the international rule of law.
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Operation Barkhane started in February 2014 as an anti-terror initiative of a coalition of France and the Sahel-5: Burkina-Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Chad. In Mali, Barkhane is a follow-up to the French operation Serval, launched in 2013. See: here
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European Union Naval Force - Mediterranean Operation Sophia, EEAS, Brussels, October 2015, p. 1
Sollie, H., ‘Agenten met een vredesmissie. Ervaringen van Nederlandse politiefunctionarissen’, Justitiële Verkenningen (WODC), 36(4), 2010, p.54-66.