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Looking back to look forward: CHM recommendations to the MoD

PAX, together with its civil society partners, is putting forward 16 recommendations to the Netherlands Ministry of Defence to further improve Dutch policy and practice in preventing, minimizing and addressing civilian harm caused by its military operations. The recommendations are the result of a years-long engagement between our civil society consortium – consisting of Airwars, Center for Civilians in Conflict, Utrecht University, and PAX – and the MoD on this topic.

Our engagement with the MoD began in 2020, shortly after the news broke that the Netherlands was responsible for two 2015 airstrikes on Mosul and Hawija, Iraq, which caused respectively 4 and at least 85 civilian casualties and resulted in widespread material damages and other (long-term) negative impacts. In both cases, it took the Netherlands over four years to acknowledge responsibility, which indicated significant shortcomings regarding transparency and accountability. As a result, the then-Minister of Defense ordered a review of the MoD’s civilian harm mitigation policies and practices, which also marked the start of our engagement (the so-called ‘Roadmap Process’).

Following a previous series of recommendations by us, the MoD in 2022 announced its ‘ten-step policy plan’ regarding civilian casualties and their mitigation. While this represented a significant step forward and has led to several concrete results, various gaps have since remained. PAX is, for instance, particularly concerned about the lack of a standing policy to meaningfully – from the perspective of civilians – address civilian harm caused by Dutch military use of force. Of further concern has been the Netherlands’ limited transparency regarding potential civilian harm risks related to Dutch military contributions currently not covered by Article 100 of the Dutch Constitution. After the Netherlands signed the Political Declaration on Strengthening the Protection of Civilians from the Humanitarian Consequences Arising from the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas in November 2022, our engagement also focused on the interpretation and implementation of this declaration. To further strengthen the MoD’s policies on civilian harm mitigation, we have therefore formulated 16 recommendations, which we hope the MoD will swiftly translate into corresponding policy changes.

For the Dutch-language version of our recommendations, see this report.

About this report

Date of publication:

May 23, 2024


PAX, Airwars, CIVIC, Utrecht University


May 2024

Looking back to look forward: CHM recommendations to the MoD

May 23, 2024, PAX, Airwars, CIVIC, Utrecht University

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