Foreign policy in a VUCA world

Recent interviews with leaders from both the public and private sectors paint a picture of a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world (Gowing and Langdon, 2015). In such a world, leadership is mainly about how to deal with uncertainties: the keywords in the interviews were coping and adapting. It is quite a challenge to show leadership in that kind of world, while at the same time convincing the electorate. A similar challenge confronts the Dutch Ministers of Foreign A airs and Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation. They are tasked with no less than nine objectives between them, including the promotion of the international rule of law and human rights, security, European collaboration, fair trade and development. These are not just ambitious objectives; they are also di cult to make tangible. The only clearly defined ministerial responsibilities are those concerning consular representation1. The rest are all goals the Netherlands could possibly contribute to, but actually achieving them greatly depends on others, and on developments beyond their control.

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