Are current developments in Dutch Restitution Policy for the better?

Linkedin 4 October 2021
By Tabitha Oost

Things regarding Dutch restitution policy are indeed on the move, but the question is, are current developments for the better?

This 4 October a new chairman of the Dutch RC has been appointed: the former chair of the advisory committee on the Dutch Restitution policy, Jacob Kohnstamm. In light of the institutional criticism on the Dutch Restitution policy, which became known to the general public after the so-called Berenschot report (2016), this appointment is surprising to say the least. “Blind spots “ in the set up of the Dutch RC and a (said) lack of transparency for one, in terms of the appointment of the RC’s members, leading to doubts on the RC’s impartiality in individual recommendations, had to be prevented at all costs. And now the chair of the government installed advisory committee that was so critical on the Dutch policy and RC is to chair the RC itself.

Proceeding on moral grounds does not necessarily mean that constitutional principles such as the separation of powers can be let go, regardless of “good” intentions. Impartiality seems difficult to maintain when the new chair responsible for the execution of the policy is the same person as the one who drafted the rules in the first place.

For those who would like to know more about the origins of this (institutional) criticism on the Dutch Restitutions policy and committee, see my two articles published in the International Journal of Cultural Property (Cambridge Publishers) in 2018 and 2021. For the latest article see,

Tabitha I. Oost, LLM (Constitutional and Administrative Law, Utrecht University) and MA (Holocaust and Genocide Studies, University of Amsterdam) is a lecturer and researcher in Constitutional and Administrative Law and Fundamental Rights Law at the University of Amsterdam. As a research fellow, she is also conducting doctoral research on restitution policies on Nazi-looted art in The Netherlands, Austria and the UK. She is the 2019 LaliveMerryman Fellow, a fellowship which was awarded to her on the basis of her article ‘Restitution Policies on Nazi-Looted Art in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom: A Change from a Legal to a Moral Paradigm?’ International Journal of Cultural Property (Cambridge University Press, 2018).
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