The Netherlands on Combating Xenophobia and Racism

Traditionally, the Kingdom of the Netherlands is seen as a very open and welcoming society to immigrants. However, due to the increase in the flow of immigrants, right-winged politicians and the terror threats and attacks, the Kingdom of the Netherlands is becoming increasingly xenophobic. Beginning in the 16th and 17th century the Netherlands began accepting immigrants from other colonies. After World War two, the Kingdom of the Netherlands was left in ruins. The country needed a lot of rebuilding and industrialization. The Netherlands needed more workers than they could supply so they began recruiting laborers from different countries to help rebuild. Fifteen years later in 1960, after the Kingdom of the Netherlands experienced an economic boom many Turkish, Moroccan and Indonesian people were invited to work in the Netherlands. Between 1945 and 1965 around 300,000, Indonesian people left Indonesia for the Netherlands. This heightened immigration in the Netherlands. In 2000 the Netherlands accepted about 40,000 asylum seekers into the country. However, recently there has been heated political debate in society and increased influence of far-right politicians. These influences resulted in more fear-based xenophobia.

This has caused much social debate in one of Europes traditionally most progressive countries. The Kingdom of the Netherlands has taken many initiatives to combat the issue both socially and legally. Firstly, on the legal side in 1983 the General Act on Equal Treatment was established, which prohibits discrimination on grounds of race and religion, among other things. In 2004 the Netherlands amended the General Act on Equal Treatment (AWGB) on the basis of the European ‘Race Directive 2000/43/ EC’. Since the 19070s, there has been a visible shift from multiculturalism to trying to assimilate immigrants into Dutch society. This idea was shown through the publication of the Contourennota Integratiebeleid Etnische Minderheden (Ethnic Minorities Integration Policy Outline), an important document by the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations. The policy document declared that immigration would henceforth be built around “integration,” the goal of which was to “improve the socio-economic position of disadvantaged ethnic minorities.” This also means that the government is obligated to offer opportunities to immigrants. Recently, however, the poor security situation in some parts of the world has caused an increase in the number of refugees in Europe. The Netherlands among other EU member states have agreed to receive more asylum seekers. Language classes are also provided and required so that immigrants can learn Dutch and better integrate into Dutch society.

Finally, all foreigners who live and work in the Netherlands are in exchange for paying Dutch social security, are eligible to claim various government benefits, including family benefits, maternity and paternity leave, unemployment benefits, long-term care, sick leave, and disability benefits. The Kingdom of the Netherlands has come to a solution. In order to integrate and combat xenophobia citizens need to feel that immigrants contribute to their societies. They need to feel that they follow the rule of law and are not a threat to security. The Kingdom of the Netherlands suggests that in order to do this there needs to be more global education on immigration. It is also suggested to encourage media to emphasize positive images of diversity and of migration to eliminate negative stereotyping. There needs to be more civility in the social discourse. The Kingdom of the Netherlands also encourages strengthening laws focussed on recognizing and protecting the rights of non-nationals, and intensifying punishments of racially or ethnically motivated hate crimes. These solutions would help combat xenophobia and racism in Global Crises.

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