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Minister Van Leeuwen gives guest lecture on current global developments

On Monday 8 April, a high-profile guest visited Leiden Law School. Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Geoffrey van Leeuwen gave a powerful speech to students about defending our interests in all current global developments.

As an alumnus of our faculty, Van Leeuwen has a special connection to Leiden University: ‘It’s great to be back in Leiden. My time here as a student had a big impact on my life –  it was a period that shaped my worldview.’

Paying the price for freedom and prosperity

During his lecture, the minister shared his views on the complexity of today's world order. He stressed that the Netherlands has to be prepared to pay a price in order to protect its freedom and prosperity – even if it means using force to defend those interests. Van Leeuwen said, ‘We need to be equally tough – otherwise it will be difficult to defend our interests internationally.’

Support needed

At the end of the lecture, students had the opportunity to ask questions, which included: ‘What does that tough stance mean in practical terms?’ ‘Will conscription be reintroduced, meaning we’ll all have to join the army?’ The minister showed great enthusiasm in his interaction with the students. His answers were clear: ‘Conscription still exists and so it will remain in place. I can envisage us increasing our defence spending to 3% or even 4% of our gross national product, but I want to be clear: we won't be able to achieve that on our own. In order to take on our geopolitical challengerse, we need support from our NATO allies.’

More information

Read Minister Van Leeuwen’s speech (in Dutch) on the Dutch government website.

This guest lecture was given to students on the Methoden en Technieken van de Rechtswetenschap course (given in Dutch, meaning ‘Methods and Techniques in Legal Science’) offered by the Department of Jurisprudence at Leiden Law School.


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