Lousewies van der Laan

Louse Wies Sija Anne Lilly Berthe "Lousewies" van der Laan (born 18 February 1966) is a retired Dutch politician of the Democrats 66 (D66) party and jurist.

Lousewies van der Laan
Lousewies van der Laan (26472979804).jpg
Lousewies van der Laan in 2016
Parliamentary leader in the
House of Representatives
In office
3 February 2006 – 30 November 2006
Preceded byBoris Dittrich
Succeeded byAlexander Pechtold
Parliamentary groupDemocrats 66
Member of the House of Representatives
In office
30 January 2003 – 30 November 2006
Parliamentary groupDemocrats 66
Member of the European Parliament
In office
20 July 1999 – 30 January 2003
Parliamentary groupEuropean Liberal Democrat
and Reform Party Group
Personal details
Louse Wies Sija Anne Lilly Berte van der Laan

(1966-02-18) 18 February 1966 (age 55)
Rotterdam, Netherlands
Political partyDemocrats 66
Children1 son and 1 daughter
ResidenceAmsterdam, Netherlands
Alma materLeiden University
(Bachelor of Laws, Master of Laws)
Johns Hopkins University
(Bachelor of Social Science)
OccupationPolitician · Civil servant · Jurist · Political consultant · Nonprofit director · Lobbyist

Life before politicsEdit

In her youth, Van der Laan lived in Belgium, Germany, and the United States.

She finished high school at the German School in Washington, DC. She obtained the International Baccalaureate at Armand Hammer United World College of the American West (In Montezuma, New Mexico). After graduating in 1984, Van der Laan moved to the Netherlands to study law at the University of Leiden. She specialized in International and European Law and graduated in 1990. Between 1990 and 1991 she studied international relations at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University at Bologna. After an internship at Greenpeace in Brussels, she became an intern at the cabinet of Dutch European Commissioner Frans Andriessen.[1]

Between 1991 and 1994 she worked for TACIS of the European Commission, where she was responsible for environmental projects. In 1995 she worked as an environmental specialist for the EBRD in London. Between 1995 and 1997 she worked for the Cabinet of Dutch European Commissioner for External Relations, Hans van den Broek. In 1997 she became his spokesperson.[1]

Political lifeEdit

In 1999 she became head of the D66 list for the European elections. She became chairwoman of the parliamentary party and member of the parliamentary party board of the ELDR. In the European Parliament she was active on a range of issue focusing on civil liberties, environmental affairs, budget and international relations. In the European Parliament she was vice-chairwoman of the Committee on Budget Control between 1999 and 2002, vice-chairwoman of the Committee on Liberties and Civil Rights, Justice and Home Affairs between 2002 and 2003. She was member of the Committee on the Rights of the Woman and Equal Chances between 1999 and 2003, the delegation for relations with the Palestinian Authority between 1999 and 2002. Between 1999 and 2002 she was a substitute for the Committee on Environmental Protection, Public Health and Consumers' Policy and a substitute for the delegation for relations with Slovakia. Between 2002 and 2003 she was a substitute for the Budget Committee. She founded the Intergroup on Food Safety, the Campaign for Parliamentary Reform.[1]

In 2003 she switched to the Dutch Parliament. She was the spokeswoman of her party on foreign policy, higher education, justice, technology, European affairs and gay rights. She was the vice-chairwoman of the parliamentary party and the chairwoman of the parliamentary committee on technology policy and vice-chairwoman of the committee on European affairs. In 2004, she and her husband, Dennis Hesseling,[2] a mathematician,[3] had a son that they named "Helix".[4] Van der Laan, who speaks English and Dutch fluently, is raising her son bilingually.

She assumed the parliamentary leadership of D66 in the House of Representatives on 3 February 2006, succeeding Boris Dittrich. Dittrich stepped down after the debate on sending Dutch troops to the Afghan province of Uruzgan.[1]

Lousewies van der Laan lost out to Alexander Pechtold in the June 2006 D66 leadership election.[1]

Van der Laan played a significant role in the downfall of the Second Balkenende cabinet by supporting a motion of no confidence against Minister Rita Verdonk regarding Verdonk's behavior in the matter of Ayaan Hirsi Ali's citizenship. On 4 August 2006, she announced that she would retire from the House of Representatives after the 2006 elections.[1] She describes herself as an agnostic.[5]

Life after politicsEdit

After leaving elected office, Lousewies van der Laan ran an international consultancy business, LW International, which included clients like the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster reduction. From January 2009 until 2015 she was employed as the Chef de Cabinet working for the Presidency of the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Lousewies van der Laan remains active in promoting democracy, inter alia, by working with the National Democratic Institute, including as election observer at the 2007 elections in Morocco and 2009 elections in Lebanon. Since 2008 she has chaired the Dutch National Committee of United World Colleges, which selects students to attend one of the 12 United World Colleges around the world. She is a member of Women on Top, which advocates for more women in high level positions and works against the feminisation of poverty. She sits on various Advisory boards, including the Getu Foundation, the Rainbow Tree Foundation (Stichting De Regenboogboom) and the International Democratic Initiative. She has been a member of the Steering Board of the "Apeldoorn Conference", the bilateral conference between the UK and The Netherlands since 2004. She is a guest lecturer at the University of Maastricht, the Clingendael Institute for International Relations and the Nyenrode Business University.

In 2015 she was appointed to the Board of Directors of ICANN, for a three-year term starting in October 2015.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Parliamentary Documentation Centre, Biography of L.W.S.A.L.B. van der Laan (in Dutch)
  2. ^ NRC Handelsblad newspaper(Zaterdags Bijvoegsel) Hollands Dagboek
    "Lousewies van der Laan (39) is Tweede-Kamerlid voor D66. Samen met haar man Dennis Hesseling heeft ze een zoon van 1, Helix."/"Lousewies van der Laan (39) is member of the parliament for D66. Together with her husband Dennis Hesseling, she has a son of one years old, called Helix" (Retrieved February 2006) available online on the website of D66 Archived 2006-01-12 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Bus, Evelien Drs. Dennis Hesseling:Wiskunde alleen was te saai geweest/Dennis Hesseling: Only mathematics would have been too boring on the "Kennislink" website (21 July 2004) , financed by the Dutch government
    "Dennis Hesseling studeerde wiskunde in Utrecht en Kopenhagen van 1988 tot 1994."/"Dennis Hesseling studied mathematics in Utrecht and Copenhagen from 1988 until 1994."[1](Retrieved Feb. 2006)
  4. ^ Dohmen, Jean and Sandra Donker, Interview with Lousewies van der Laan: God is gekaapt/God has been hijacked in the Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad
    "Mijn zoon is nu acht maanden, hij heet Helix. [..] De dubbele helix is de structuur van het menselijk DNA. "/"My son is now 8 months old. His name is Helix [..]The double helix is the structure of the human DNA" "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-02-19. Retrieved 2006-02-07.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) (Retrieved Feb. 2006)
  5. ^ "Lousewies van der Laan: interview" (in Dutch). Atheisme.eu. 2006-12-11. Retrieved 2008-05-11. Quote: (Translation) “Believers see the antichrist in her. Is Lousewies van der Laan on atheistic crusade against the Christian Netherlands?” [..] [Q: Do you believe in God?] “I have accepted that I can never be completely sure. Doubtless faith seems so consoling to me, knowing there's an afterlife waiting for you if you keep some rules in mind. It would really calm things down. I am open to divine revelations, always think: Come on, I only need a small miracle and I'm yours. I don't know, I have a feeling there could be something.” (Dutch) “Gelovigen zien in haar de antichrist. Is Lousewies van der Laan bezig met een atheïstische kruistocht tegen christelijk Nederland?” [..] [V: Gelooft u in God?] “Ik heb aanvaard dat ik daar nooit echt uit zal komen. Het lijkt me heerlijk als je vol vertrouwen gelooft, en weet dat er een hiernamaals is waar je naar toe gaat als je je aan wat afspraken houdt. Dat geeft ongelofelijk veel rust. Ik sta heel erg open voor goddelijke ervaringen, denk altijd: kom maar op, ik heb maar een klein wondertje nodig en I'm yours. Ik weet het niet, ik heb wel het gevoel dat er iets is.”
  6. ^ ICANN 2015 Nominating Committee Announces Selections

External linksEdit

Party political offices
Preceded by
Boris Dittrich
Parliamentary leader of the
Democrats 66 in the
House of Representatives

Succeeded by
Alexander Pechtold