Max van der Stoel

Max van der Stoel
Max van der Stoel in 1973
High Commissioner on National
of the Organization
for Security and Co-operation in Europe
In office
1 January 1993  1 July 2001
Preceded by Office created
Succeeded by Rolf Ekeus
Member of the Council of State
In office
1 August 1986  1 January 1993
Permanent Representative of the
Netherlands to the United Nations
In office
1 July 1983  1 August 1986
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
11 September 1981  29 May 1982
Prime Minister Dries van Agt
Preceded by Chris van der Klaauw
Succeeded by Dries van Agt
In office
11 May 1973  19 December 1977
Prime Minister Joop den Uyl
Preceded by Norbert Schmelzer
Succeeded by Chris van der Klaauw
Member of the European Parliament
for the Netherlands
In office
22 September 1971  11 May 1973
State Secretary for Foreign Affairs
In office
22 July 1965  22 November 1966
Serving with Leo de Block
Prime Minister Jo Cals
Preceded by Isaäc Nicolaas Diepenhorst
Succeeded by Leo de Block
Member of the House of Representatives
In office
16 January 1978  11 September 1981
In office
8 June 1977  8 September 1977
In office
23 February 1967  11 May 1973
In office
5 June 1963  22 July 1965
Parliamentary group Labour Party
Member of the Senate
In office
27 September 1960  5 June 1963
Parliamentary group Labour Party
Personal details
Born Maximilianus van der Stoel
(1924-08-03)3 August 1924
Voorschoten, Netherlands
Died 23 April 2011(2011-04-23) (aged 86)
The Hague, Netherlands
Nationality Dutch
Political party Labour Party
Spouse(s) Maria Johanna Aritia de Kanter
(m. 1953–1976; divorced)
Children 4 daughters and 1 son
Alma mater Leiden University
(Bachelor of Laws, Master of Laws)
Occupation Politician · Diplomat · Civil servant · Jurist · Professor

Maximilianus "Max" van der Stoel (Dutch pronunciation: [ˌmɑksimiliˈjaːnɵs ˈmɑks fɑn dɛr ˈstul];[note 1] 3 August 1924 – 23 April 2011) was a Dutch politician and former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands. He served as the first High Commissioner on National Minorities of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

On 17 May 1991, he was granted the honorary title of Minister of State.[1]


Van der Stoel studied law at Leiden University where he obtained an LL.M. degree. From 1953 to 1958 he worked for the Wiardi Beckman Stichting, the scientific bureau of the Partij van de Arbeid (PvdA, the Dutch labour party) and became international secretary for the PvdA in 1963. From 1973 to 1977 and 1981 to 1982 he was the Netherlands Minister of Foreign Affairs. In 1977, during his visit to communist Czechoslovakia, he met with philosopher and dissident Jan Patočka, and they discussed Charter 77 and human rights in Czechoslovakia.[2][3] This provoked harsh criticism by the Czechoslovak authorities and president Gustáv Husák cancelled scheduled meeting with van der Stoel.[2]

He was appointed as the first High Commissioner on National Minorities of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe in December 1992 and took up his functions in January 1993. He remained in office until 2000. Max van der Stoel was a member of the Bilderberg Group.

In 2001, following his intervention as High Commissioner in the ongoing problem of equitable access to higher education by members of the Albanian ethnic group in the Republic of Macedonia, he became the founding President of the International Foundation for the South East European University, raising some 35m Euros from the international community. He later served as President of the University Board until 2004. He was awarded the University's first honorary Doctorate and the University named its Library in his honour.

Van der Stoel was a member of the Advisory Board of the European Association of History Educators (EUROCLIO).

Honours and awards

Honours of the Netherlands

Foreign honours

Freedom awards

  • Freedom of Speech of the Four Freedoms Award (1982)
  • Helène de Montigny award (December 1991)
  • Dr. J.P. van Praag award (1 June 1993, Netherlands)
  • Geuzenpenning (1993, Netherlands)
  • Wateler Peace award (30 oktober 1996)

Honorary appointments

Honorary degrees


  • In 2014, a new park in Prague (in Jan Patočka street) was named in van der Stoel's honour.[3] In 2017, forty years after his meeting with Jan Patočka, Van der Stoel's memorial created by Dominik Lang was unveiled in the park.[7]


  1. In isolation, van is pronounced [vɑn].


  1. (in Dutch) Mr. M. van der Stoel
  2. 1 2 Tůma, Oldřich (2008). "Snídaně s Mitterandem" [Breakfast with Mitterand]. Dějiny a současnost. Nakladatelství Lidové noviny (2). Retrieved 27 January 2015.
  3. 1 2 "Park for Everybody". 2014-09-29. Archived from the original on 2015-12-22. Retrieved 2015-01-27.
  4. "State decorations - Tomas Garrigue Masaryk Order - List". Office of the President of the Republic. Retrieved 2015-01-27.
  5. Slovak republic website, State honours Archived 2016-04-13 at the Wayback Machine. : 1st Class in 2001 (click on "Holders of the Order of the 1st Class White Double Cross" to see the holders' table)
  6. Decree of the President of Ukraine No. 885/2001
  7. "Dominik Lang vytvořil památník Maxe van der Stoela – prvního západního politika, který potvrdil význam Charty 77" (in Czech). 2014-09-29.
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