Justitia et Pax Nederland

Visiting Address:Riviervismarkt 5 (Nutshuis)
2513 AM
Mailing Address:P.O. Box 16334 NL-2501LM DEN HAAG
Phone number:+ 31 (0)70 7631499
Telefax:0031 - 70 3136 801
President of the Commission and of the Foundation:

Prof. Dr. Peter Tak
appointed by the Bishops’ Conference in 2009

Director of the Foundation and Secretary-General:

Sebastiaan van der Zwaan

Profile of the Commission
Justitia et Pax Netherlands was established by the Dutch Bishop’s conference in 1968. The commission is a platform, with representatives of catholic organisations and with experts. At the same time, the commission has a legal status according to civil law: the foundation Justitia et Pax Netherlands.
Justitia et Pax Netherlands stands up for human rights and social justice, worldwide and in The Netherlands. We are inspired by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church.
Today our activities are structured in a five years programme (2011-2015), prepared and executed by a professional staff of 8. Our legal status as foundation according to civil law gives us opportunities to fundraise and to establish strategic alliances with partners in the Netherlands and abroad.
Justitia et Pax cooperates with national and diocesan Justice and Peace commissions, human rights and other civil society organisations, and religious groups and institutions. We support them with training, exchange of knowledge and policy advocacy so they can voice their concerns with governments and international institutions (European Union, Council of Europe, United Nations).

Our fields of activity:
Justice and reconciliation In post war countries, legal and other structures are often functioning poorly. Corruption, violence and human rights violations take place on a large scale. Impunity further increases the sense of insecurity. Programmes in Burundi, DRCongo, South Sudan.
Equal access to justice Also in constitutional states equal access to justice may be compromised. Certain groups and minorities may suffer from discrimination, impunity, exclusion and suppression. Programmes with partners in Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, India, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda and Surinam.
In The Netherlands Justitia et Pax promotes social teaching of the Church, advises the Bishops’ Conference and pleads with policy makers and politicians to respect human rights, in particular of asylum seekers and undocumented migrants


Justice and Peace Nederland began in 1968 with the establishment of the Commission Justitia et Pax, with the aim of promoting human rights and social justice in The Netherlands and elsewhere in the world. Since 1972, Justice and Peace was developed into a professional organization with the implementation of its first policy strategy. This was also the year a small secretariat was established.

The 1980s saw Justice and Peace become more active in denouncing human rights violations. For example, specific focus was placed on Central America, South Africa, Irian Jaya and East Timor during this period. Furthermore, the political, military and economic support from the United States to the dictatorships in Chili, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala provoked protests within the Netherlands, in which Justice and Peace was often involved.

In the 1990s, Justice and Peace emphasized a focus on The Netherlands: refugee policy, poverty, economic justice, racism and xenophobia, and undocumented migrants. Moreover, the death penalty, freedom of religion, the international debt crisis, reconciliation and solidarity in Europe were also items on the agenda. Together with partners in the Balkans, the Great Lakes region (Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo in particular), Sudan, Liberia, Mexico, Colombia and Pakistan, Justice and Peace worked to improve human rights at the local level.

In the new millennium, Justice and Peace established working relationships with 20 partners from around the world to reveal various forms of human rights violations. Additionally, in the Netherlands itself, Justice and Peace continued to actively advocate for pardons for asylum seekers. The first world conference on the rights of Dalit women was held in The Hague for which Justice and Peace implemented effective lobby in The Hague, Brussels, Geneva and New York together with its Southern partners. In September 2008, Justice and Peace celebrated its fortieth anniversary.

In 2010, Justice and Peace organized an international workshop with human rights defenders. It was argued strenuously that the Dutch government was to provide temporary refuge for human rights defenders in danger because of their work. From this point onwards, Justice and Peace enabled several initiatives to realize a safe haven for human rights defenders in the Netherlands, such as The Hague Shelter City initiative and the The Hague Training Course on Human Rights defenders. In July 2013 Justice and Peace Netherlands was granted Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC). Recently, Justice and Peace has seen the need to independently identify and develop clear choices in the thematic focuses of the organization. From 2016 onwards, projects will focus on the security and human rights defenders, environment and human rights, and migration and human rights.


JPeople can and should transform their societies themselves. It is thus also essential that the capacity, knowledge and skills for such transformation are developed. Justice and Peace helps with this process through the facilitation of training, knowledge exchange and policy influencing. In doing so, peoples’ voices can be heard by both regional and national governments, the European Union, the Council of Europe and the United Nations.

In the Netherlands Justice and Peace continuously advocates to influence policy makers and politicians to address both systematic human rights violations worldwide as well as the rights of certain specific groups in the Netherlands.

On the international level Justice and Peace works together with national and regional Justice and Peace commissions, with religious groups and institutions, as well as with human rights organizations and other civil society organizations. We are able to assist these partner organizations in other continents in strengthening their own capacities with workshops and trainings on human rights, catholic social thought, justice and reconciliation, security and human rights and policy advocacy.

Governing structure

The Commission (established in 1968, currently 14 members) consists of representatives of catholic organizations, experts and advisors. Justice and Peace historically has always been and still is a lay organization. The composition and the structure was adapted several times in order to respond to new challenges and developments in Church and society. By decree of 24 January 2012, the Bishops' Conference decided to establish the Ecclesiastical Institution Episcopal Advisory Commission Justitia et Pax Nederland. At the same time, the bishops approved the new statutes of the Foundation Justitia et Pax Nederland, a foundation under civil law. This is the foundation responsible for personnel, finance and organization.

The members of the Commission form the board of the Ecclesiastical Institution Commission Justitia et Pax Nederland. They oversee the substantive policy. From among its members, the Commission appoints the board of the Foundation Justitia et Pax Nederland / Justice and Peace Netherlands. Number of paid staff in 2016: 10.

IPresident of the Commission and of the Foundation: Prof. Peter Tak
Director of the Foundation and General-Secretary of the Commission: Sebastiaan van der Zwaan