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On the issue of gedogen

Uil vertaalt

This page aims to provide more insight into the typically Dutch practice of 'gedogen', a form of deliberate lax enforcement of law that has developed in this country over the better part of the last century. It is often taken to mean 'turning a blind eye', 'live and let live', and understood as a form of tolerance or, less benign, as a form of indifference, neglect or even immorality. There is, however, much more to this issue than meets the eye - so to speak.

News about Dutch gedogen practices frequently turns up in the international media. Usually, this has to do with the Dutch drugs policy, or with issues like abortion, euthanasia, or prostitution. It may concern pressure from foreign governments on Dutch politicians to curtail gedogen practices, but just as often it has to do with other countries taking over these practices, as forms of enlightened 'best practices' in the field.

Lately, there has been much commotion around gedogen in the Netherlands itself. This was mostly due to recent catastrophes such as the explosion of a firework storage facility in Enschede, which destroyed a whole neighborhood of that city, and the large fire that broke out on New Year's Eve 2001 in a cafe in the town of Volendam in which more than a dozen people, mostly teenagers, were killed and many others were badly burned. The neglect of safety regulations involved in these catastrophes is widely perceived to be related to the attitude and the policy of 'gedogen'. Increasingly, the policy of gedogen has come to stand for administrative negligence and incompetence, instead of a responsible and socially responsive way of dealing with intractable social issues.

These pages aim to provide more information on the issue of gedogen, as well as to promote a nuanced view on this delicate subject.

Unfortunately, most of the texts offered will be in Dutch only.

  Recent contributions to the discussion on gedogen from journals, newspapers &c.

  More information on my book publications around this issue:the edited volume Ongeregelde orde, and the essay Surplus van illegaliteit, an essay that deals with the many aspects of illegality, both in the philosophical and the sociological sense.

You can also: maintained by  Gijs van Oenen
last revision  December 25, 2004