As I don't speak/read Dutch, the most detailed article I found about this is in Der Spiegel. In summary (from there), the Dutch law commission found

  • that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was illegal
  • that the political support that the Dutch government gave to the aforementioned was "to some extent disingenuous" (due to them repeating US' WMD claims)

But the catch is that the Dutch contingent that went into Iraq in 2003 followed a similar pattern as the Italian and Spanish ones, meaning it only went in a few months after the US had deposed Saddam. (To reinforce that point, the Dutch force was called SFIR -- Stabilization Force Iraq.) So, given these additional circumstances, what did the Dutch law commission find about their own military (SFIR) participation. Was that illegal or not?

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    Basically, if some 3rd country illegally deposes a foreign government, and your troops show up the next day to "stabilize" the situation [which involves nothing like restoring the deposed government], how legal is that--in view of the commission? Commented Aug 19, 2022 at 4:07

1 Answer 1


Dutch public broadcaster NOS has a summary about the report listing its main findings. I'll cite their summary (in Dutch) and provide my own translation below.

Geen adequaat volkenrechtelijk mandaat voor de inval in Irak Anders dan het kabinet heeft gedaan, kan de tekst van de VN-resolutie 1441 redelijkerwijs niet worden uitgelegd als een vrijbrief om zonder nadere besluiten door de Veiligheidsraad militair in te grijpen, zegt Davids.

Geen bewijs voor actieve Nederlandse militaire bijdrage aan inval Irak Er zijn altijd geruchten geweest dat Defensie actief was tijdens de oorlog. Bewijzen zijn er niet, zegt Davids.

Balkenende gaf weinig of geen leiding aan debatten over Irak De premier liet het Irakdossier geheel over aan de minister van Buitenlandse Zaken. Pas na januari 2003 begon hij zich intensief te bemoeien met het dossier, zegt Davids.

AIVD en MIVD genuanceerder dan de buitenlandse rapporten over Irak Deze nuanceringen werden niet door betrokken ministers en departementen overgenomen. Uit de rapporten werden slechts die uitspraken gedestilleerd die pasten in het reeds ingenomen standpunt, zegt Davids.

Geen volledige openheid van zaken tegenover het parlement over Amerikaans steunverzoek voor militaire opbouw Op 15 november 2002 kreeg Nederland een verzoek van de Verenigde Staten om mee te werken aan de planning van de opbouw van een militaire macht die Irak tot toegeven aan de VR-resolutie 1441 moest dwingen, zegt Davids. De Kamer wist dit niet.

De benoeming van De Hoop Scheffer als NAVO-chef geen rol gespeeld bij besluit Lang is gedacht dat de minister van Buitenlandse Zaken De Hoop Scheffer de prestigieuze baan van secretaris-generaal van de Navo kreeg als dank voor de Nederlandse steun. Dit klopt niet, zegt Davids.

My translation:

No adequate international law mandate for the invasion of Iraq Contrary to the government's explanation, the text of UN resolution 1441 cannot reasonably be explained as a justification for military intervention without further decision by the UN Security Council, according to Davids [president of the Supreme Court of the Netherlands from 2004 till 2008, he headed the commission Davids]

No proof for active military participation by the Dutch in the Iraqi invasion There have always been rumors that the Dutch military was active during the war. There is no proof for this, says Davids.

[PM] Balkenende did not or only to a small extent lead the debates on Iraq The prime minister left the Iraq dossier to the minister of foreign affairs. Only after January 2003 he started to involve himself with the dossier, says Davids.

The Dutch intelligence services AIVD and MIVD provided more nuanced reports on Iraq compared to their foreign counterparts These nuances were not adopted by the involved ministers and departments. Only those quotes supporting the already taken position were distilled from the reports, says Davids.

There was no full disclosure to parliament regarding the American support request for military build-up On 15 November 2002, the US requested the Dutch to cooperate in the planning for building up a military power to force Iraq to give in to UN resolution 1441, according to Davids. Parliament was not made aware of this [request], says Davids.

De Hoop Scheffer's nomination to NATO Secretary General did not play a role in this decision It was long thought that the minister of Foreign Affairs De Hoop Scheffer was appointed the prestigious role of NATO SG as a reward for Dutch support. That is not true, says Davids.

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    I found the full report here, I will try to elaborate more on some of these points, maybe later though.
    – JJJ
    Commented Aug 19, 2022 at 4:19
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    Thanks, but this longer summary also seems to avoid discussing whether "stabilizing" the result of an illegal invasion is legally problematic (or not). I'm suspecting now they avoided on purpose getting to that kind of dilemma. Commented Aug 19, 2022 at 4:22
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    @Fizz that topic is discussed in section 8.9 of the main report. I scanned through it, but it doesn't seem to go into the finer details of whether and how that stabilizing aspect is problematic. It does refer to UN resolution 1483 which only names the US and the UK as the occupying powers (together referred to as the "Authority") while other states work "under the Authority". Maybe the report reflects on this more in 8.11 but I haven't read that (yet).
    – JJJ
    Commented Aug 19, 2022 at 4:34
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    @Fizz Okay, I think it does pass more of a value judgement in 8.11. In my own understanding, I'd summarize it as follows: the UK attorney general defended UK actions in answers to parliament on 17 March. His controversial justification is that invading was warranted because of Iraqi violations of UN resolutions. The Dutch justification basically copied that reasoning and that's what the commission calls out criticizes. That's based on my reading of "De ‘corpustheorie’ en (...) op 8 november 2002." (pages 271-273).
    – JJJ
    Commented Aug 19, 2022 at 4:47

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