In Memoriam: Max van der Stoel
It was with great sadness that IQd learned of the passing of H.E. Dr. Max van der Stoel on 23 April 2011. His long and distinguished career in Dutch politics and in international affairs was defined by tireless commitment, the highest standard of integrity, courage and remarkable humility.
Van der Stoel was a long-standing member of the Dutch Parliament and of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, was twice Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, and was granted the honorary title of Minister of State of the Netherlands in 1991. He played important roles in a number of situations often at critical points in both contemporary Dutch political history and Euro-Atlantic relations (notably the Helsinki process). After representing his country at the United Nations in the 1980s, he served as Special Rapporteur on Iraq for the United Nations Commission on Human Rights from 1991-1999. In 1992, he was appointed the first High Commissioner on National Minorities (HCNM) of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe. In nearly a decade as HCNM, he defined the position and developed a pioneering approach to preventing violent inter-communal conflict by discreetly assisting parties to find common cause and resolve the sensitive and complex issues underlying tensions. He became known as ‘the quiet diplomat’.
Following his service as HCNM, van der Stoel and John Packer, IQd Senior Adviser and former Director of the Office of the HCNM, established IQd to stimulate the development of multilateral institutions with the function of preventing violent conflict, using the quiet diplomatic approach. Van der Stoel served as Special Adviser to IQd and Chair of IQd’s international Advisory Board. His persistence, creativity and unique ability to bridge differences and find an acceptable modus vivendi in situations of seemingly intractable problems continue to inform our work.
Max van der Stoel had a great influence on the world – for many who never knew him or will even know of him. We are privileged to have worked with him and to help advance his approach to peace and justice in the world. He remains an inspiration to us all.