Speech by Princess Máxima

The Hague, 22 June 2007

at the opening of the symposium to celebrate the fifth chair holder of the Prince Claus Chair on Development and Equity, Noordeinde Palace.

Your Majesty, Professor Fresco, Dear Chair holders, Ladies and gentlemen,

It is with great pleasure that I now open this symposium to celebrate the fifth chair holder of the Prince Claus Chair on Development and Equity, on behalf of its Curatorium. A very special welcome to prof. Louise Fresco, who will deliver the key note lecture, and to our five Chair Holders, professors Mansoob Murshed, Amina Mama, Gaspar Rivera-Salgado, Rema Hammami, and Nasira Jabeen. A very special word of thanks to Her Majesty, for her incredible hospitality. It is amazing to be able to celebrate this in your Palace and with your presence. Thank you!

Five years already, time flies. After the passing away of my father in law, Prince Claus, the idea of this Chair arose. Prince Claus was strongly committed to development and equity in North-South relations. Through his work, his travels and his contacts he gained a deep understanding of the opportunities for equitable development. But also a deep understanding of the obstacles to it. His views, and above all his attitude towards people in the developing world became a source of inspiration to many, and still is.

In commemoration and respect for his work, the Utrecht University and the Institute of Social Studies together shaped this chair. The Chair aims to stimulate research and teaching in development and equity by establishing a rotating professorship. The two participating institutions will alternately appoint an outstanding young academic from Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean or the Pacific to the Chair.

The Prince Claus Chair was launched in a special academic ceremony in the Dom Church in Utrecht on March 2003. In this same ceremony and in view of the 50th anniversary of ISS, Utrecht University awarded an honorary doctorate to the then President of the Inter-American Development Bank, dr. Enrique V. Iglesias. His work has always focused on the relation between economy and administration on one side and civil society on the other. A person Prins Claus was very fond of

From the very beginning, we have been very fortunate with excellent candidates. We started with dr. Mansoob Murshed, an economist from Bangladesh, who works in the field of trade and freedom as well as that of peace and conflict management. We then had the honour of having dr. Amina Mama, from Nigerian/South African background, who was appointed for her contribution to the academic field of African Culture and its relationship to development. In 2004-2005 we had dr. Gaspar Rivera-Salgado with us, a sociologist from Mexico, who had contributed already significantly to academic research on indigenous rights and migration, particularly in Latin America and the United States. Last year dr. Rema Hammami, from Palestinian background, was our Chairholder. She was appointed for her contribution to peace and co-existence in the Palestinian Territories. And this year we have the pleasure to have in our midst dr. Nasira Jabeen, from Pakistan, who is an expert on the possibilities and constraints of good governance as a concept in the developing world.

To all five we say 'Thank you', thank you for being such excellent representatives of the Prince Claus Chair in Development and Equity. You have been willing to leave your own country, your university, your family and friends to come to the Netherlands. You have engaged in education and research and you have participated in publications, lectures, seminars, etc. And you have also contributed to outreach activities. To take one example, dr. Rivera-Salgado was involved in a project on Human Rights and Migration, in which pupils from secondary schools studied the theme from different angles, and presented the results to experts and to each other at a concluding seminar in Utrecht.

Ladies and gentlemen, the variety in backgrounds and academic expertise reflects the complexity of development and equity. It also reflects the necessity of contributions from different disciplines to gain a more profound insight into ways and means through which development and equity can be encouraged. The Curatorium hopes that the activities of the Prince Claus Chair contribute to this goal.

Personally, I am delighted to be part of this process. To be able to give a platform to these talented people in Europe means more opportunity for us to learn from them and their ideas. I hope in consequence that our Chairholders will therefore become stronger voices in their regions of origin. As Prins Claus said in one of his 23 statements at the ISS 'freedom of speech as an essential element in any form of democracy and therefore a prerequisite for true development'. With all my heart, I wish that we continue to support these academics as just one way for us to contribute to development in the strong belief that people develop themselves within their own cultural environment.