I was born in 1940 (March 16) in Scheveningen, The Netherlands. My nationality is Dutch.
After having finished my study economics at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam I became research assistant of Prof. Jan Tinbergen at the same university. In the seventies I became a politician: Member of Parliament for the Social-Democratic Party (Partij van de Arbeid) and Minister for Development Cooperation. During the first half of the eighties I held the position of Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations Conference of Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Geneva.
Thereafter I returned to Dutch politics and became again Minister for Development Cooperation and later Minister of Environment. In the latter position I presided over the United Nations World Climate Negotiations in 2000 and 2001. I left Dutch politics in 2002 and was appointed as Professor at the Institute of Social Studies (ISS - www.iss.nl) in The Hague. From mid 2004 until the end of 2006 I have lived in Khartoum as the Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations in Sudan, where I was leading the UN peace keeping operation (UNMIS) See: www.unmis.org.
In 2007 I returned to The Netherlands and resumed my position at the ISS. Since my retirement I am giving lectures at various universities.
I am married to Tineke Zuurmond. We are living in The Hague. We have two children. Our daughter, Carin, has studied economics in Rotterdam. Presently she is working at the European Central Bank in Frankfurt. She is married to Paco Tur Hartmann. They have a daughter, Carolina (2004). Our son, Rochus, studied law in Utrecht and Washington. He is a diplomat and has worked in that capacity in Shanghai, Brussels, Kabul, Ramallah, Uruzgan/Afghanistan, The Hague, and presently in Ottawa. He is married to Cara Jordan. They have two sons: Jonathan (2009) and Matthew (2013)
My main professional interests are sustainable development, development cooperation, conflict and development, and international relations in general. My hobbies are fitness (running, swimming, ski-ing), reading, writing and archiving.
In 2007 I decided to run for the position of Chairman of the Dutch Labour Party. This is the Social Democratic Party in the Netherlands. www.PvdA.nl I had been a member since 1965 and served the party in different positions. The election took place in September of that year. I got 46 % of the votes, against the winner, Lilianne Ploumen, with 54%. In 2008 I have chaired the Labour Party committee drafting the program for the elections of the European Parliament in 2009. In 2013, after having been a member for nearly fifty years, I left the PvdA, because in my view the party did no longer hold social democratic values.
In June 2004 UN Secretary General Kofi Annan appointed me as his Special Representative in Sudan. In that capacity I have led the United Nations peace keeping mission in Sudan, until the end of 2006. It was established by the Security Council, first as an advance mission (UNAMIS) and in March 2005 as a full mission (UNMIS). Its objective is to monitor the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), signed between the Government of Sudan and the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Movement on 8 January 2005. This peace agreement brought an end to a civil war which had lasted more than two decades. It was the longest civil war in Africa since decolonisation, with the highest number of casualties. The mandate of the United Nations mission has been laid down in Security Council Resolution 1590, adopted by consensus in March 2005.
The mandate includes the coordination of activities beyond peace: return of refugees and displaced people, disarmament and demobilization of combatants and re-integrating them into society, de-mining, reconstruction and economic development, monitoring of human rights, preparing elections and - last but not least - a referendum six years after the peace agreement. That referendum will provide the answer to the question whether Sudan will remain one state - with a fair degree of autonomy for South Sudan - or whether the country will be divided into two states.
Since early 2003 another civil war goes on Darfur, West Sudan, between the Government and a number of rebel movements, including the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM). Darfur is also part of our mandate. This includes the coordination of humanitarian assistance to the people of Darfur, many of which are living in camps for refugees and displaced persons, and the facilitating of a peace agreement for Darfur.
The total number of refugees and displaced people is more than seven million. About five million result from the war between North and South, the others are victims of the war in Darfur. Their needs and the immense poverty in Sudan, partly due to the war, together with the size of the country and the long duration and complex character of the wars make the humanitarian and peace keeping operation in Sudan one of the largest UN missions ever.
The UN mission was expected to stay in Sudan until 1212. It will consist of 10,000 military (in addition to more than 7,000 military sent by the African Union to monitor the cease fire in Darfur) and 4,000 civilians. I have been working together with two Deputies, Taye Zerihoun (Ethiopia) and Manuel Aranda daSilva (Mozambique) and with UNMIS Force Commander General Jasbir Lidder (India).
In October 2006 the Government of Sudan declared me persona non grata. Thereupon I left the country. I stepped down as UN Special Representative on 31 December 2006
In 2002 I received an Honourable Degree at the International Institute of Social Studies in The Hague, which is affiliated to the Erasmus University in Rotterdam. This took place on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Institute (October 9, 2002). The laudatio was held by Professor Bas de Gaay Fortman. In my address I reflected on paradigm changes in development policy making. Shortly thereafter I was appointed as Professor at the same Institute. The title of my Chair is "Theory and Practice of International Development". In my Inaugural Address on 11 December 2003 ("Collateral Damage or Calculated Default") I highlighted the Millennium Development Goals - halving world poverty in 2015 - and the politics of globalisation. When I was appointed Special Representative of the Secretary General of the UN in Sudan I got special leave from the Institute until my return in January 2007. Since my retirement in 2012 I am Professor Emeritus at the Institute.
From 2008 to 2011 I was President of the Society for International Development (SID). See: www.sidint.org
In the same period I was Chairman of the Interchurch Peace Council in the Netherlands (Interkerkelijk Vredesberaad, IKV) See: www.ikvpaxchristi.nl
Since 2009 I am visiting Professor at the United Nations University for Peace in Costa Rica. www.upeace.org
Foto's: Dida Mulder