Netherlands supports reconstruction of South Sudan
Over the past few years the Netherlands has been closely involved in the peace process in Sudan and intends to play a major role in the reconstruction of South Sudan. This commitment was reaffirmed yesterday by Minister for European Affairs and International Cooperation Ben Knapen in a speech at a high-level conference on the future of South Sudan in Washington, DC.
The new state of South Sudan, which became independent on 9 July, is facing enormous challenges. In addition to security, stability, and social and economic development, the minister highlighted the need for a functioning, multiparty democracy that respects the rule of law and human rights.
In a brief meeting with South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir, Mr Knapen said that South Sudan can continue to count on Dutch support for his country’s development. The minister stressed the need for good governance and respect for the rule of law in this process. In this light, the minister is pleased that South Sudan will participate in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. He also urged that relations between North and South Sudan be normalised by settling outstanding issues from the peace agreement.
South Sudan is one of the Netherlands’ 15 development partners. Through bilateral and multilateral channels and via non-governmental organisations, the Dutch contribute €75 million to the country each year. Over the next three years €45 million of that amount will be spent annually on water management, food security, and security and the legal order. The Netherlands has considerable expertise in these areas and works closely with other donors. It has even assumed a coordinating role in the areas of water management and security. The Netherlands also provided approximately €14 million in humanitarian aid in 2011 and has pledged to make up to 30 experts available for the United Nations Mission in South Sudan. The Dutch government has also pressed for coordinated EU programming for the years ahead. From now through 2013 the European Union will spend a total of €900 million on development in South Sudan.
Along with development South Sudan needs investments and international trade. In October, a month after the Dutch embassy was opened in the new capital of Juba, a large trade mission took place, with the participation of Dutch businesses in the agriculture, financial services and transport sectors.
The International Engagement Conference for South Sudan ends on 15 December. Speakers included President Salva Kiir of South Sudan, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, President Robert Zoellick of the World Bank and UNDP Administrator Helen Clark. Representatives of friendly governments, the private sector and NGOs spoke on a variety of subjects, including the management of oil income, social services (such as education and health care), strengthening state institutions and investment opportunities.