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HET PAROOL

Dutch Animal Rights Law Could Make Leashing Dogs Illegal

Pushed by a small but influential animal rights party in the Netherlands, the law could also ban keeping birds in cages and force farmers to widen pig pens and grazing areas.

Like a dog on a leash
Like a dog on a leash
Meike Eijsberg

THE HAGUE Rabbits and birds may no longer be kept in a pen or cage, while dog owners may have to forego a leash in the Netherlands from 2023 onwards. This is the result of a proposed new animal protection law that aims to reorient the debate about animal rights, which was approved by the Dutch Senate late last month with virtually no media attention at the time.

The Amsterdam-based Het Parool daily reports that the new law, introduced by the small but influential Party for the Animals, updates previous legislation to require that animals are able to exhibit "natural behavior," and must no longer suffer pain or discomfort when kept in stables, pens or cages. It is primarily aimed at owners of livestock who must ensure that pigs, for example, have enough room to roll around in the mud.

Dutch farmers, who have previously protested against a government plan to combat nitrogen emissions, are strongly opposed to the new bill that they fear will undermine their businesses and put an end to intensive livestock farming. The Netherlands Minister of Agriculture, Carola Schouten, is currently analyzing the law to determine what it would mean in practice. "It's very openly formulated," she said according to Het Parool. The new law would go into effect on January 1, 2023.

Whether the law will also apply to pet owners is not yet clear. After it was first introduced in April, it was met with raised eyebrows by many questioning its feasibility. It will be difficult to enforce, according to Bas Rodenburg, Professor of Animal Welfare at the University of Utrecht and cited by the Dutch broadcaster, NOS. "There are millions of pet owners. How are you going to check them all?"

The law was proposed by the Party for the Animals, a left-leaning party founded in 2002, that is believed to be the only animal rights party with national legislative power. It currently occupies 3 out of 75 seats in the Senate and 6 out of 150 seats in the House of Representatives. It advocates for animal rights and welfare, as well as for action to reverse global warming.

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Geopolitics

Smaller Allies Matter: Afghanistan Offers Hard Lessons For Ukraine's Future

Despite controversies at home, Nordic countries were heavily involved in the NATO-led war in Afghanistan. As the Ukraine war grinds on, lessons from that conflict are more relevant than ever.

Photo of Finnish Defence Forces in Afghanistan

Finnish Defence Forces in Afghanistan

Johannes Jauhiainen

-Analysis-

HELSINKI — In May 2021, the Taliban took back power in Afghanistan after 20 years of international presence, astronomical sums of development aid and casualties on all warring sides.

As Kabul fell, a chaotic evacuation prompted comparisons to the fall of Saigon — and most of the attention was on the U.S., which had led the original war to unseat the Taliban after 9/11 and remained by far the largest foreign force on the ground. Yet, the fall of Kabul was also a tumultuous and troubling experience for a number of other smaller foreign countries who had been presented for years in Afghanistan.

In an interview at the time, Antti Kaikkonen, the Finnish Minister of Defense, tried to explain what went wrong during the evacuation.

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“Originally we anticipated that the smaller countries would withdraw before the Americans. Then it became clear that getting people to the airport had become more difficult," Kaikkonen said. "So we decided last night to bring home our last soldiers who were helping with the evacuation.”

During the 20-year-long Afghan war, the foreign troop presence included many countries:Finland committed around 2,500 soldiers,Sweden 8,000,Denmark 12,000 and Norway 9,000. And in the nearly two years since the end of the war, Finland,Belgium and theNetherlands have commissioned investigations into their engagements in Afghanistan.

As the number of fragile or failed states around the world increases, it’s important to understand how to best organize international development aid and the security of such countries. Twenty years of international engagement in Afghanistan offers valuable lessons.

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