The 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine has sparked a steep rise in military spending across NATO member states. The Netherlands increased its defense budget by forty percent, of which about fifty percent will be invested in long-range weapon systems, including the purchase of more F-35 fighter jets and MQ-9 Reaper drones.
In an op-ed in Het Parool, IRW’s Jip van Dort and PAX’s Erin Bijl point to the civilian harm effects associated with the use of these supposedly precise systems. Here, they refer to the 2015 Dutch bombardment of Hawija, Iraq. Earlier this year, a joint investigation by IRW, PAX, and Iraqi NGO Al-Ghad revealed that the attack by two Dutch F-16s killed at least 85 civilians, left hundreds injured, and destroyed the homes of thousands. Years later, the Dutch state made a voluntary monetary contribution to the reconstruction of Hawija, but formal apologies or individual compensations never came.
In their piece, Van Dort and Bijl provide moral, humanitarian, and strategic reasons to improve efforts to compensate victims. Consequently, they argue that a modest part of the latest military investments should be used to create victim compensation funds.