Our ideal: a world in which the democratic rights of all people are safeguarded.
What we do
We fight for fledgling democracies and for (social) democrats in countries where freedom is under pressure. The FMS supports the development of political parties by means of providing trainings for them at their request. For example, we educate young politicians in the Balkans, we support democrats in Eastern Europe and we train the new social democratic parties in Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt. We believe that human dignity, human rights and the chance to determine one’s own future must not be restricted to a select group of mostly western countries. Recurrent themes within these trainings are building a democratic party, involving the youth and women in politics, campaigning skills and the enlargement of the European Union. Hundreds of trainers and politicians have been educated in this way in the countries where we are active.
Who we are
The FMS has a small professional staff with a large group of volunteers that conduct the trainings. The trainers have relevant expertise in politics and train for the FMS out of idealism. In this way we keep the costs low and the involvement high. Our trainers have two handbooks at their disposal which are available freely online: How to become a better politician – a handbook of political skills, and The art of effective training – a trainer’s handbook.
European Forum for Democracy and Solidarity
The FMS is in charge of the office of the European Forum for Democracy and Solidarity, a platform for cooperation between social democratic parties and foundations within and beyond the EU. The European Forum’s aim is to strengthen social democracy in countries outside the EU based on the principle of international solidarity. More than 30 parties and foundations are associated with the European Forum.
Our ideal: a world where everyone has equal opportunities for development.
Lobbying for fair Dutch and European policy for developing countries
While the work for democratisation takes place primarily in the project countries themselves, lobbying for developing countries is focused mainly on Dutch and European politics. The FMS strives to ensure the voices of people in developing countries are heard in the Hague and in Brussels. This is much needed, because the interests of developing countries are too often ignored in our policies on trade, agriculture, and immigration, thereby hindering development cooperation and sustainability.
With our Fair Politics programme, we work towards an equal relationship between the European Union and countries trying to overcome poverty, like some countries in Africa. Politicians in the Netherlands and the European Union too often make decisions that harm the interests of developing countries. It happens all too regularly that we offer help with one hand and take it away with the other, for example, by wielding strict property rights in trade agreements or by allowing tax evasion to continue.
Through research, publications and influencing the policies and politicians in the Hague and Brussels, the Foundation Max van der Stoel works for fairer policy that gives developing countries a fair chance at development. We do this by cooperating with other civil society organisations in the Netherlands, Europe and Africa in search for alternative solutions and making politicians aware of unfair policies. The worldwide effort to reduce poverty, disease and hunger will not succeed without fair politics.
Our ideal: an informed society in which everyone can form an opinion based on mutual reliance.
Activities in the Netherlands
The FMS regularly organises public meetings and meetings of experts in the Netherlands on developments in countries and regions where we are active. These events provide a forum for debates about those countries, European expansion or development cooperation among representatives from politics, the civil society, science and industry. We always cooperate with social organisations, the Dutch Labour Party (PvdA) or people who originate from these countries. The big debate about Russia on the eve of the visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin in April 2013 attracted a great deal of publicity and cast a spotlight on the developments in Russia, especially because of the presence of Russian opposition leaders. Even within the PvdA, attention to international cooperation and the importance of international solidarity must continually be fought for. The FMS does so through party conferences, managing the office of the PvdA Foreign Affairs Committee and by way of extensive online communication (e.g. a free digital newsletter, Facebook and Twitter).
Africaday is the largest public event related to Africa and international cooperation in the Netherlands. In addition to an extensive cultural programme, visitors get the chance to speak directly with politicians, professionals and each other in dozens of political debates, workshops and lectures. The annual Africaday attracts some 1500 visitors and is made possible thanks to the cooperation of around 150 guest speakers from the Netherlands and abroad, and 60 cooperating organisations.
Information sur la fondation en Français.