Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met with Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal at the Department of State on April 21, 2011. The counterparts discussed a number of issues, including the crisis in Libya, our shared mission in Afghanistan, and our global efforts to support sustainable development and empower women and girls.
Secretary Clinton said, "It is certainly the case that the Netherlands has been and is a valued ally and trusted friend to the United States. We talked about our 400 years of history together, and our nations are part of a transatlantic community that is united by shared values and a firm commitment to work together for peace, progress and prosperity."
She continued, "...First on Libya, we agreed that carrying out the mandate of the United Nations Security Council to protect Libyan civilians remains critically important under Resolution 1973. Colonel Qadhafi's troops continue their vicious attacks, including the siege of Misrata. There are even reports that Qadhafi forces may have used cluster bombs against their own people. In the face of this inhumanity, the international community remains united in our resolve. We deeply regret the loss of all life, and we are particularly saddened today by the loss of two journalists, and we extend our condolences to their families.
"We also call for the immediate release of Americans who are being unjustly detained by Libyan authorities, including at least two reporters. I say “at least” because we do not have any accurate information coming from Libyan authorities about other inquiries that we have made regarding their continuing harassment and detention of journalists including Americans.
"I also expressed appreciation for Dutch contributions to the NATO-led no-fly zone and to the international Contact Group that met most recently in Doha and will meet again soon in Rome. We agreed that Qadhafi must step aside and a democratic transition must begin that reflects the will and aspirations of all Libyans.
"I want to thank the government and people of the Netherlands for their commitment to our mission in Afghanistan. Our troops, diplomats, and development experts continue to work side by side and stand with the Afghan people. I greatly appreciate the commitment of a new police training mission to deploy this summer to bolster the Afghan Government's ability to provide security. We are committed to the NATO transition as agreed at the Lisbon Summit to be completed in 2014, and we have a lot of work ahead of us to help facilitate greater security, political reconciliation, and a clear unambiguous stand against al-Qaida and other extremists.
"Now, we also are discussing the great commitment to sustainable global development that the Netherlands has demonstrated over so many years. And there's a new challenge. Nearly two million people, mostly women and children, die each year from breathing the toxic smoke from dirty stoves and open fires that are used overwhelmingly for the cooking of the daily meals. This is more than twice the number of people who die from malaria. So it's a very serious health hazard. It's also an environmental hazard. It contributes to black carbon which contributes to global warming. And the United States has joined the United Nations Foundation and a wide range of partners to form the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves with the goal of 100 million homes adopting clean stoves and fuels by 2020. The Government of Netherlands, the Shell Foundation, SNV, Philips have long been leaders in this effort, and we greatly appreciate the historic generosity of the Dutch people.
"In that same spirit, I'm pleased to announce that the United States and the Netherlands have agreed to deepen our cooperation aimed at empowering women and girls around the world, especially in emerging democracies. Both our nations recognize that when women and girls are accorded their rights and afforded opportunities, they drive political, economic, and social progress. And we're so pleased to be working with the Netherlands to create greater political and economic opportunities for women, particularly in the democratic transitions underway in the Middle East and North Africa.
"Minister, we have so much that we work on together. We have so much in common. Our histories and our cultures are entwined. We are your friend, we are your partner, and I appreciate your efforts."
Following their bilateral meeting, Secretary Clinton and Dutch Foreign Minister Rosenthal issued a joint statement on supporting women's political empowerment in emerging democracies. Experience shows that integrating women into transition, reconciliation and peacebuilding processes from the start helps promote long-term peace and stability by ensuring a focus on critical broader priorities and needs. Where women are oppressed and marginalized, societies become more dangerous and breed intolerance. The subjugation of women is a threat to the common security of our world, because the suffering and denial of the rights of women, and the instability of nations, go hand in hand. There is also a mountain of data that correlates investments in and inclusion of women with positive outcomes in poverty alleviation and a country's greater prosperity.
The UN Development Fund for Women found in 2010 that women comprise less than 10 percent of negotiators and less than three percent of the signatories to peace agreements. In a similar vein, we see that substantial women's participation in transitional processes is often lacking, even in situations where women have played an important role in ousting oppressive regimes.
The Netherlands and the United States share the view that the participation of women in political and economic processes is particularly urgent in the Middle East and North Africa region in these times of transition and reconciliation. We intend to work together to promote women's empowerment in the region, based on the experience of our ongoing and cooperative efforts throughout the world. We believe that working with women and civil society organizations builds capacity for good governance for all citizens, irrespective of gender, and that as the political reform process moves peacefully forward, the human rights of all, including those of women, can be protected.