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Max van der Stoel Foundation looks back on 2023

This week, the Max van der Stoel Foundation team looks back on 2023 - an eventful year in which democracy, human rights and international cooperation were under great pressure.

Autocracy reigns supreme worldwide. In Serbia, autocrats remained in the saddle despite a combative opposition, in Tunisia, President Saied suppressed the opposition and population, and in West Africa, the democratically elected president was deposed in Niger, followed a few weeks later by a coup in Gabon. In contrast, Poland's elections finally brought an end to the radical-right government after eight years and a return to its pro-European course.

The year 2023 brought no end in sight to Ukraine's terrible war against Russian aggression. This year, support from the West - indispensable for this - began to falter for the first time, with election results in the Netherlands also causing concern. In the shadow of the war in Ukraine, ethnic cleansing took place in Nagorno-Karabakh and a war between warlords in Sudan. Moreover, on 7 October, the world was deeply shaken by Hamas' horrific attack and the subsequent horrific Israeli bombing of Gaza, where civilians have nowhere to go.

Our staff and volunteers worked continuously in 2023 to draw attention to these developments, and to make the voices of people from abroad fighting for justice, democracy and a fair future heard. By organising events and writing articles, we involved as many people as possible in our work again this year. To share knowledge and encourage dialogue. Below, we list the articles and moments from this year that we are proud of.

Our best-read articles of 2023:

We are proud of these moments from 2023:

The Africa Day

On Saturday, November 18, the annual Africa Day again hundreds of people on their feet, this year for the first time at Pakhuis de Zwijger in Amsterdam. The day consisted of workshops, lectures, talks, films, and music. The event offered activists and thinkers from the African continent a platform to engage with Dutch citizens, politicians, policymakers and NGOs to discuss a new cooperation between Africa and Europe based on equality and climate justice. Moreover, this year we organised for the first time the Africa Day youth think tank: 30 young people, from diverse educational and personal backgrounds, have spent the past few months working on dilemmas surrounding the Dutch Africa Strategy, sharing their findings at the Africa Day and with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The 10th anniversary of the FMS!

June marked the 10th anniversary of the Max van der Stoel Foundation! On 21 June 2013, the Alfred Mozerstichting and the Evert Vermeerstichting merged into a new foundation, named after the prominent PvdA politician and human rights defender Max van der Stoel. Ten years after our founding, we are still committed to the same ideal: make people stronger and politically fairer. This is still desperately needed. To celebrate, we organised a beautiful anniversary in the summer of 2023, with special guests such as Lilianne Ploumen, Thijs Reuten and Bert Koenders and Max van der Stoel's grandson.

The political café on Iran

People in Iran took to the streets en masse this year for the largest Iranian protests since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The FMS organised a political cafe about. With a passionate and engaged audience, experts, politicians Kati Piri and Thijs Reuten, and representatives of the Iranian diaspora stressed the importance of continued support for the "young, fiery and strong" Iranian protesters.

Training in Odessa, Ukraine

Despite the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the war now raging in the country for more than a year, the struggle for fair and social politics in Ukraine remains as important as ever. In 2023, the FMS together with the SD Platform Ukraine organised a three-day training in Odessa, Ukraine for some 30 young social democrats. Particularly now that the post-war reconstruction of Ukraine is a topic of conversation, the SD Platform, together with the FMS, is putting fair and social politics on the agenda - so that reconstruction funds are not limited to a certain section of the population.

The Summit for Democracy

On 28-30 March, the world held its second summit on the international state of democracy: The Summit For Democracy. The Netherlands acted as host country. The summit, which brought together world leaders, civil society and the private sector, revolved around an enlarged commitment to democracy worldwide. As part of the Democracy Under Pressure coalition, the Max van der Stoel Foundation attended the summit, together with NIMD, More Democracy, Netherlands Helsinki Committee, PAX, The Hague Academy for Local Governance and Transparency International Netherlands. In a joint opinion piece expressed our hope that the commitment to democracy extends beyond the summit and translates into real action.

Support us!

Also in 2024, the Max van der Stoel Foundation (FMS) will continue to work for democracy and human rights worldwide, for fairer and more just Dutch dealings with other countries, and for public debate on these issues in the Netherlands. We cannot do this without your help! Would you like to help us in our work for solidarity, democracy and human rights? Then take a look at this page How you can contribute.