Dr. B.R. (Bernard) Bot

foto Dr. B.R. (Bernard) Bot
Naar de grotere foto (verschijnt in een nieuw venster)
bron: Bernard Bot
Source: Parlement.com.

Bernard Bot (1937) is an experienced diplomat who became minister of foreign affairs in 2003 in the Balkenende II cabinet. He is the son of civil servant, diplomat and former minister Theo Bot. In his childhood Ben Bot was imprisoned in a Japanese internment camp during World War II. As a diplomat Bot occupied various posts, including serving as the permanent representative at the EU for over a decade. He was also secretary-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

He possesses extensive international connections and acquired great authority as a minister. After the Dutch no-vote in the referendum on the European Constitution, Bot made an effort for the restoration of the position of The Netherlands within the EU.


Personal data

Name and surname

Bernard Rudof (Ben) Bot

Date of birth

November 21st 1937

Place of birth

Batavia (current Jakarta), Dutch East Indies (current Indonesia)


Theodorus Hendrikus Bot (father, former minister)

Elisabeth .W. van Hal (mother)

Three children


Roman Catholic

Selected honours and distinctions

Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau, April 29th 1985

Knight in the Order of the Dutch Lion, April 29th 1993



Secondary school

Gymnasium, R.K. “Aloysius College”


Dutch Law, Leiden University, to July 1961

Law, Academy for International Law in the Hague


Law, Leiden University, June 27th 1968 (Cum Laude)

Post-Academic and courses

Law, Harvard Law School, Cambridge Massachusetts

Education for Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Foreign affairs, to October 22nd 1963


Political affiliation

CDA (Christian Democratic Appeal)

Party-political functions

Member of the Strategic Commission (the commission investigated the dramatic loss of CDA at the 1994 elections)



  • civil servant Service Foreign Affairs, 1963 to 1964
  • second secretary at the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of the Netherlands at the European Community, 1964 to 1970
  • first councillor of the Dutch Embassy in Buenos Aires (Argentina and Paraguay), 1970 to 1973
  • first councillor of the Dutch Embassy and head of consular services in East-Berlin, 1973-1976
  • civil servant at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 1976 to 1982
  • deputy permanent representative at the North-Atlantic Council, 1982 to 1986
  • ambassador in Ankara, 1986 to January 1st 1989
  • secretary-general at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, January 1st 1989 to September 1st 1992
  • permanent representative (rank of ambassador) to the European Union, October 1st 1992 to January 1st 2003
  • partner at Consultancy-firm “Praaning en Meines”, January 1st 2003 to October 1st 2003
  • minister of foreign affairs, December 3rd 2003 to February 22nd 2007
  • partner at consultancy-firm “Meines & Partners” from March 1st 2007


Selected additional functions


  • president at Hague Price for International Law
  • president at the Supervisory Board of “Finles”(Dutch hedge fund)
  • president at Wateler Peace-Prize
  • member of the Supervisory Board of the Deutsche Bank in the Netherlands
  • president of the Carnegie Foundation in the Hague, from 2007
  • president of the board of the Dutch Institute of Foreign Affairs “Clingendael”, from 2007
  • president of the supervisory board of the Dutch Institute for Multiparty Democracy, from March 2007
  • president of the supervisory board of the Dutch International Broadcasting, from June 2008


  • president of the association of members of Foreign services, form 1978 to 1982
  • member of the Supervisory Board of ‘Fondation Journalistes en Europe’
  • board member of Directors of the Hotels School in the Hague
  • president of the Advisory Board, Energy Charter Secretariat
  • member of the Trilateral Commission of the Netherlands
  • board member of the European Centre for Work and Society
  • board member of the foundation of the University of Tilburg, from January 2003 to December 2003


Selected political achievements

  • It has been speculated that Bot was a possible candidate for the post of minister of foreign affairs in 1981 during the formation of the Van Agt II Cabinet. Hans van den Broek became minister, instead
  • Staunch supporter of accession of Turkey to the EU. The formal start of negations was pushed hard for during the Dutch presidency of the EU in 2004
  • Under the Dutch presidency of 2004 Bot and his junior minister concluded EU accession negotiations for Romania and Bulgaria
  • Played an important role in negotiations on the Constitutional Treaty for the European Union
  • As minister Bot publicly apologised for the Dutch actions during the struggle for independance in Indonesia


Selected references and statements

Books and publications

  • "Nonrecognition and Treaty Relations" (dissertation, 1968)
  • "To a European Social Contract", (Humboldt University lecture, June 2nd 2004)
  • "De toekomst van de Europese Unie" (Hofstadlecture, February 14th 2005)

In interviews and speeches

  • At the Mandeville lecture in 2008 Bot made a plea for a radically enlarged EU. As minister he had proved far more reluctant, but Bot added that as a government minister he was forced to take that positions for political reasons

Private life

  • Was imprisoned in a Japanese internment camp during World War II
  • After his return to the Netherlands after the War ended, he did not yet have any education. He started in third grade and was helped by his grandfather