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Jan Pronk

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Jan Pronk

Jan Pronk
Minister of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment
In office
August 3, 1998 – July 22, 2002
Prime Minister Wim Kok
Preceded by Margreeth de Boer
Succeeded by Henk Kamp
Member of the House of Representatives
In office
May 19, 1998 – August 3, 1998
Member of the House of Representatives
In office
May 18, 1994 – August 22, 1994
Minister for Development Cooperation
In office
November 7, 1989 – August 3, 1998
Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers (1989-1994)
Wim Kok (1994-1998)
Preceded by Piet Bukman
Succeeded by Eveline Herfkens
Member of the House of Representatives
In office
June 3, 1986 – November 7, 1989
Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
In office
August 18, 1980 – June 3, 1986
Member of the House of Representatives
In office
January 16, 1978 – August 18, 1980
Minister for Development Cooperation
In office
May 11, 1973 – December 19, 1977
Prime Minister Joop den Uyl
Preceded by Kees Boertien
Succeeded by Jan de Koning
Member of the House of Representatives
In office
June 8, 1977 – September 8, 1977
Member of the European Parliament
for the Netherlands
In office
March 13, 1973 – May 11, 1973
Member of the House of Representatives
In office
May 11, 1971 – May 11, 1973
Personal details
Born Johannes Pieter Pronk
(1940-03-16) March 16, 1940
Scheveningen, Netherlands
Nationality Dutch
Political party Labour Party
Spouse(s) Tineke Zuurmond (since 1966)
Residence The Hague, Netherlands
Alma mater Erasmus University Rotterdam (M.A.)
Occupation Politician
Civil servant
Religion Protestant Church in the Netherlands

Johannes Pieter "Jan" Pronk (Dutch pronunciation: ; born 16 March 1940) is a Dutch politician, diplomat, and professor. He has been visiting professor at the United Nations University for Peace in Ciudad Colón, Costa Rica, since 2009.

Pronk was a member of the Labour Party (PvdA) from 1965 to 2013, serving three terms as Minister for Development Cooperation and one as Minister of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment in government cabinets between 1973 and 2002. He was the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of Mission for the United Nations Mission in Sudan from 2004 until 2006.


  • Early life 1
  • Politics 2
    • Netherlands (1971–1977) 2.1
    • United Nations (1977–1986) 2.2
    • Return to the Netherlands (1986–2002) 2.3
    • Return to the United Nations (2002–2006) 2.4
    • Labour Party (2007–2013) 2.5
  • Public perception 3
    • Honours 3.1
  • Other positions 4
  • Private life 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Early life

Jan Pronk was born in Scheveningen in the Netherlands on March 16, 1940.[1] He is the son of Johannes Pronk (1909–2005) and Elisabeth Hendrika van Geel, who were both school teachers at the Protestant elementary school Koningin Emmaschool in Scheveningen.[2] Jan Pronk attended the Koningin Emmaschool for three years. He attended the Protestant secondary school Zandvliet Lyceum in the Hague, where he graduated the gymnasium in 1958 with a curriculum that focused on exact sciences.[1]

Jan Pronk continued to study Christian Historical Union party and president of the Protestant fraternity S.S.R.[1]

In 1965 Pronk became research-assistant of professor Jan Tinbergen, the future Nobel Prize laureate, at the Centre for Development Planning and later he became associate professor at the Dutch Economic Institute.[1] In this period he also became an active member of the social-democratic PvdA, between 1966 and 1971 he was chairman of the Krimpen aan de Lek-branch of the party. He became active in the development cooperation-movement, serving as chairman of the "X-Y"-movement: an alternative Dutch development cooperation fund.[1]


Netherlands (1971–1977)

Jan Pronk (center) in 1973

In World Bank.[4] Because of his many international travels, he often fell asleep at Cabinet meetings, which lasted until very late in the night.[1]

United Nations (1977–1986)

In 1977 he returned to Parliament. He combined this period in Parliament with several posts in the world of development cooperation: in 1979 he also became Professor of International Development at the Institute of Social Studies; he was a member of the committee "Church Participation in Development" of the World Council of Churches and of the Councils Commission of Advisors on Economic Affairs; he was a member of the International Commission for the Study of Communication Problems of UNESCO; and in the Netherlands he was member of the Council for Government and Social Affairs of the Dutch Reformed Church.[4] In 1978 he became Knight in the Order of the Netherlands Lion.[1] In 1980 he left Parliament to become Assistant Secretary-General of the UNCTAD.[4] In 1985 he was Assistant UN Secretary-General.[4]

Return to the Netherlands (1986–2002)

Pronk was re-elected to Parliament in 1986. In 1987 he was elected vice-chair of the PvdA, after first considering running for chair.[1] In 1987 he was co-writer of the report "Moving Panels" in which the PvdA moderated its policies.[1] In 1989 he combined his work as MP with a position as professor at the University of Amsterdam, where he occupied the Joop den Uyl chair, created by the scientific foundation of the PvdA.[1] Although he was originally asked to become Minister of Defence, he returned to the post of development cooperation in the third Lubbers cabinet in 1989.[1] During his period as Minister for Development Cooperation he sought to combine economic and social development, with environmental protection. As Minister for Development Cooperation he again became deputy governor of the World Bank. In 1992 his criticism of Indonesian government's record on human rights, caused the Indonesian government to refuse development aid from the Netherlands ever since.[1] In 1993 he was asked to become Deputy UN Secretary-General, but he declined.[1] After the 1994 elections he remained Minister for Development Cooperation, now in the first Kok cabinet.

In 1998 he again became a minister in the second cabinet Kok but he switched to Minister of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment.[1] During this period he focused on sustainable development. In 2000 a fire works depot exploded in the neighbourhood of Enschede. As minister he was responsible for this event, although there was considerable controversy surrounding the disaster he did not step down.[1] In 2000 he was the Dutch candidate for the post of High Commissioner for Refugees, a post which was taken by another Dutchman, former prime minister Ruud Lubbers.[1] In 2000 and 2001 he chaired the UN climate conference, where parties agreed upon a compliance mechanism for the Kyoto protocol for the reduction of greenhouse gases.[1] In 2002 when the report on the Dutch involvement in the Srebrenica massacre was published, it became clear that the Dutchbat peacekeeping force had been unable to prevent the massacre. On April 10, Pronk announced that he would step down as minister because he felt politically responsible.[1] On April 16, the entire Kok second Cabinet stepped down. In 2002 the Labour Party lost half its seats; Pronk was re-elected to Parliament, but he refused the position because he wanted new faces to enter Parliament.[1] In December 2002, he became Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau.[4]

Return to the United Nations (2002–2006)

Since 2002 Pronk has held several positions in the United Nations.

In 2002 he came Special UN envoy to the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Tokyo. He moderated discussions on water, hygiene, the environment and biodiversity. In 2003 he chaired the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council.

In 2003 he returned to the Institute of Social Studies as professor theory and practice of development cooperation. Pronk still holds several posts in Dutch civil society. In 2004 he came into conflict with minister Verdonk (Migration & Integration), because he characterized the way she sent asylum-seekers out of the country as "deportation".

Jan Pronk (left) with Robert Zoellick in 2005

In June 2004 Pronk was appointed UN Special Representative for Sudan by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan

On September 21, 2006, Pronk asked the warring parties in Darfur, including President Omar al-Bashir and the seven rebel movements, to observe a "month of tranquility" during Ramadan, which would begin September 23, 2006. His implicit call for a ceasefire in the western region of Sudan came after the Khartoum government withdrew its ultimatum for African Union peacekeepers to pull out. Other African states then agreed to extend their mandate until the end of 2006. By Pronk's request, they would finish the collision course, which would mean no fighting, no bombing, no changes of heart. Such a lull would help "create an atmosphere" for a new round of negotiations. The peace deal was "in a coma": not dead but dying. In addition the rejectionist factions should end the quarrel to start talking about everything related to the Darfur peace agreement to improve it.[5]

In mid-October 2006, the army of Sudan accused Pronk of "waging psychological warfare on the armed forces" and demanded his deportation after Pronk published thoughts on army military defeats in his weblog.[6] On 22 October, the Sudanese government gave Pronk three days' notice to leave the country.[7] He left Sudan the next day (October 23) when UN Secretary General Kofi Annan recalled him to New York for consultations.[8] On October 27 the UN Security Council and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan announce that Pronk will serve out his last months as Special Representative of the Secretary-general in Sudan.[9]

Pronk's story roughly parallels that of Mukesh Kapila, a previous UN employee who was forced to leave Sudan after making critical comments about the Darfur conflict.

Labour Party (2007–2013)

Jan Pronk in 2010

Jan Pronk was a candidate for the election of the chairman of the Dutch Labour Party (PvdA). As a candidate he wanted the party to return to a more leftwing course. He lost the election, between September 16 and September 23, 2007, to Lilianne Ploumen.[10]

On 28 May 2013, Jan Pronk publicly announced he is ending his membership of the Labour Party.[11]

Public perception

During his political life, Pronk was known as principled politician. Prime Minister Kok called him the "Minister for the national conscience".[12] Because he was minister for over 17 years, he came to be known as "minister by profession".


Jan Pronk has two honorary degrees and he is member of five chivalric orders. A full list of all his honorary decorations:[4]

The International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) awarded its Honorary Doctorate to Jan Pronk in 2002.

Other positions

Pronk is a member of the Governing Council of

Government offices
Preceded by
Kees Boertien
Piet Bukman
Minister of Development Cooperation
Succeeded by
Jan de Koning
Eveline Herfkens
Preceded by
Margreeth de Boer
Minister of Housing, Spatial Planning, and Environment
Succeeded by
Henk Kamp
Diplomatic posts
First Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations for the Sudan
Succeeded by
Jan Eliasson
  • Jan Pronk, official website
  • Jan Pronk, HARDtalk interview about Sudan, 2006
  • Profile at The International Institute of Social Studies (ISS)

External links

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab Drs. J.P. Pronk. Retrieved on August 20, 2007.
  2. ^ Bij het Overlijden van Mijn Vader. Retrieved on August 20, 2007.
  3. ^ Jan Pronk: Special Representative for the world's conscience. Retrieved on August 20, 2007.
  4. ^ a b c d e f CV on
  5. ^ Steele, Jonathan (2006-09-22). "UN envoy calls for peace in Darfur during Ramadan".  
  6. ^ "Expel UN envoy, Sudan army says", BBC News, 20 October 2006
  7. ^ "UN envoy is told to leave Sudan", BBC News, 22 October 2006
  8. ^ "UN envoy leaves after Sudan row". BBC NEWS (BBC). October 23, 2006. Retrieved 2006-10-24. 
  9. ^ "Annan confirms Pronk will serve out his term as top envoy for Sudan". UN News Centre (UN). October 27, 2006. Retrieved 2006-10-28. 
  10. ^ Pronk: PvdA moet weer 'echt linkse' partij zijn. Retrieved on August 20, 2007.
  11. ^ (Dutch) Afscheid van de PvdA, Labour Party, 2013. Retrieved on 2013-05-28.
  12. ^ profile as guest speaker on www,
  13. ^ Interpeace "Governing Council" Retrieved on 7 February 2012
  14. ^ Welcome. Retrieved on August 22, 2007.
  15. ^ Lijstjes Liegen Niet Column van Pronk uit 2004


Pronk is married to Tineke Zuurmond. They have two grown children, a daughter Carin and a son Rochus.[14] In 1984 Pronk gave up alcohol in one day and became an avid runner.[15]

Private life


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