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Albert Gerard "Bert" Koenders (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈɑlbərt ˈɣɪːrɑrt bɛrt ˈkundərs]; born 28 May 1958) is a retired Dutch politician and diplomat of the Labour Party (PvdA).

Bert Koenders
Bert Koenders 2015 (1).jpg
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
17 October 2014 – 26 October 2017
Prime MinisterMark Rutte
Preceded byFrans Timmermans
Succeeded byHalbe Zijlstra
Special Representative for the
United Nations in Mali
In office
1 July 2013 – 17 October 2014
Secretary-GeneralBan Ki-moon
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byMongi Hamdi
Special Representative for the
United Nations in Côte d'Ivoire
In office
1 August 2011 – 1 July 2013
Secretary-GeneralBan Ki-moon
Preceded byChoi Young-jin
Succeeded byAïchatou Mindaoudou
Minister for Development Cooperation
In office
22 February 2007 – 23 February 2010
Prime MinisterJan Peter Balkenende
Preceded byAgnes van Ardenne
Succeeded byMaxime Verhagen
President of the NATO
Parliamentary Assembly
In office
17 November 2006 – 19 February 2007
Preceded byPierre Lellouche
Succeeded byJosé Lello
Member of the House of Representatives
In office
11 November 1997 – 22 February 2007
Parliamentary groupLabour Party
Personal details
Albert Gerard Koenders

(1958-05-28) 28 May 1958 (age 61)
Arnhem, Netherlands
Political partyLabour Party
Alma materVrije Universiteit Amsterdam
(Bachelor of Social Science)
University of Amsterdam
(Master of Social Science)
Johns Hopkins University
(Master of Arts)
OccupationPolitician · Diplomat · Civil servant · Political consultant · Nonprofit director · Researcher · Professor

Koenders studied political science and international relations. He was a member of the House of Representatives from 1997 to 2007 and served as Minister for Development Cooperation from 2007 until 2010. He later was the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Operation in the Ivory Coast (2011–2013), and Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (2013–2014). Koenders founded the Parliamentary Network on the World Bank/International Monetary Fund and has served as President of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Parliamentary Assembly and leader of its Socialist Group.


Early lifeEdit

Albert Gerard Koenders was born on 28 May 1958 in Arnhem in Gelderland,[1] where he grew up in a Reformed environment.[2] He was a boy scout.[2] He attended the secondary school Carolus Clusius College in Zwolle, where he completed the pre-university program.[1]

Koenders studied political science at the Free University Amsterdam (sitting his candidates examination in 1978) and political and social sciences (international relations and economics) at the University of Amsterdam (graduating in 1983).[3] He received his Master of Arts degree from Johns Hopkins University, where he studied at the School of Advanced International Studies in Bologna and Washington from 1979 to 1981.[4]

Koenders is not married.[5]


Early careerEdit

Koenders was adjunct professor at Webster University in Leiden from 1987 to 1993.[1] In 2002 he was visiting professor at Johns Hopkins University in Bologna teaching about conflict prevention and management, and post-conflict reconstruction.[4] Due to his past experience of being a professor, he occasionally participates in lectures about specific aspects of political science at various universities around the Netherlands.[citation needed]

From 1983 to 1993, Koenders worked as an aide for the Labour Party in the House of Representatives.[1] He served as an adviser to the United Nations Operation in Mozambique in the early 1990s, his first job outside the Netherlands. Between 1995 and 1997, he worked in the private office of Hans van den Broek, who was then the Dutch European commissioner and had shared responsibility for foreign policy. During that time, one of his tasks was defining the EU’s competences on foreign policy.[6]

Minister of Foreign Affairs Frans Timmermans, Rwandan general Jean Bosco Kazura, Special Representative Bert Koenders and Minister of Defence Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert in Bamako on 28 November 2013.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Bert Koenders and United States Secretary of State John Kerry at a NATO summit in Brussels on 2 December 2014.

House of RepresentativesEdit

Koenders was a member of the House of Representatives from 1997 until 2007. In 1997, he filled the vacant seat after member of parliament Maarten van Traa died in a car accident.[7] He was member of the permanent parliamentary committees on foreign affairs and on defense.[4] From 2002 until 2003 he was a member of the parliamentary hearing committee on the Srebrenica massacre.[1] From 17 November 2006 to 19 February 2007 he was president of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.

Minister of Development CooperationEdit

Koenders was minister without portfolio for Development Cooperation (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) in the Fourth Balkenende cabinet sworn in on 22 February 2007.[8]

He came under political fire as minister in July 2007, after it became known that an event sponsored by the Ministry, Het akkoord van Schokland, was organized without a public procurement process stipulated under European Union law. Instead, the event was organized by an event bureau closely tied to the Labour Party itself. Koenders cited time shortage.[9][10]

Between 2008 and 2009, Koenders was part of a High-Level Taskforce on Innovative International Financing for Health Systems, which had been launched to help strengthen health systems in the 49 poorest countries in the world and was chaired by UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown and World Bank president Robert Zoellick.[11] In 2009, he criticized Pope Benedict XVI for his assertion that distributing condoms is not the solution to AIDS and actually makes the problem worse.[12]

United NationsEdit

Between 2011 and 2013, he served as the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Operation in the Ivory Coast.

Between 2013 and 2014, he was the Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali appointed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.[13]

Minister of Foreign AffairsEdit

On 17 October 2014, Koenders succeeded Frans Timmermans as Minister of Foreign Affairs.[14]

At the 2016 United Nations Security Council election, Koenders and his Italian counterpart Paolo Gentiloni agreed on splitting a two-year term on the United Nations Security Council after the United Nations General Assembly was deadlocked on whether to choose Italy or the Netherlands following five rounds of voting for the last remaining 2017/18 seat.[15]

In December 2016, Koenders summoned Sadık Arslan, Turkey's ambassador in the Netherlands, after the De Telegraaf newspaper reported that the Turkish embassy had sent home a list of Dutch Turks who might have sympathized with the failed coup.[16]

Other activitiesEdit


Ribbon bar Honour Country Date Comment
  Chevalier of the Legion of Honour France 2006 [18]
  Companion of the Order of the Volta Ghana 2008 [19]
  Officer of the Order of Orange-Nassau Netherlands 23 November 2010
  Grand Cordon 1st Class of the Order of the Rising Sun Japan 24 October 2014[20]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Drs. A.G. (Bert) Koenders". Parlement & Politiek (in Dutch). Leiden University. Retrieved 2014-10-14.
  2. ^ a b (in Dutch) Theo Koelé, "Bevlogen padvinder die bui ziet hangen", de Volkskrant, 2008. Retrieved on 16 October 2014.
  3. ^ Curriculum vitae Bert Koenders, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
  4. ^ a b c "Bert Koenders". (in Dutch). Labour Party. Archived from the original on 2007-01-07. Retrieved 2007-02-14.
  5. ^ "Curriculum Vitae: Bert Koenders". Government of the Netherlands. Retrieved 8 February 2016.
  6. ^ Cynthia Kroet (March 5, 2015), Bert Koenders: The alternative European Voice.
  7. ^ "Bert Koenders". (in Dutch). NOVA (VARA/NPS). 2003-09-23. Archived from the original on 2007-07-05. Retrieved 2007-02-14.
  8. ^ "Development Cooperation Minister Bert Koenders". Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Archived from the original on 2007-03-10. Retrieved 2007-02-23.
  9. ^ "Koenders overtrad EU-regel voor aanbestedingen" (in Dutch). NRC Handelsblad. 2007-07-30. Archived from the original on 2007-09-29. Retrieved 2007-08-01.
  10. ^ "Parliament upset with Koenders". Expatica. 2007-07-30.
  11. ^ More money for health, and more health for the money World Health Organization, 2009.
  12. ^ (in French) Article[permanent dead link], La Croix.
  13. ^ "Albert Gerard Koenders, Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), on Mali". UN News&Media. 16 October 2013. Retrieved 2013-10-25.
  14. ^ (in Dutch) "Koenders: internationale conflicten prioriteit", de Volkskrant, 2014. Retrieved on 17 October 2014.
  15. ^ Michelle Nichols (June 28, 2016), Italy, Netherlands propose split U.N. Security Council seat for 2017-18 Reuters.
  16. ^ Toby Sterling (December 14, 2016), Netherlands says it wary of 'long arm' of Turkish state Reuters.
  17. ^ Crisis Group Welcomes Three New Trustees to its Board International Crisis Group (ICG), press release of September 21, 2018.
  18. ^ (in French) Nomination de M. Bert Koenders au grade de chevalier dans l’Ordre national de la Légion d’Honneur, French Embassy in The Hague. Retrieved on 31 October 2014.
  19. ^ Koenders honoured with Ghanaian decoration, Government of the Netherlands, 2008. Retrieved on 31 October 2014.
  20. ^ (in Japanese) Foreign honours recipients 2014, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, 24 October 2014

External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by
Agnes van Ardenne
Minister for Development Cooperation
Succeeded by
Maxime Verhagen
Preceded by
Frans Timmermans
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Halbe Zijlstra
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Pierre Lellouche
President of the NATO
Parliamentary Assembly

Succeeded by
José Lello
Preceded by
Choi Young-jin
Special Representative for the
United Nations in Côte d'Ivoire

Succeeded by
Aïchatou Mindaoudou
Preceded by
Office established
Special Representative for the
United Nations in Mali

Succeeded by
Mongi Hamdi