Dutch Colonial History and Its Translation in Diplomacy

About this event

Join us on November 27th for the next installment of Consular Conversations with Sebastiaan Messerschmidt, Consul General for the Kingdom of the Netherlands, as he addresses how the country plans to navigate a colonial past.

On December 19, 2022, Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands apologized for the country’s slavery past. On July 1, 2023, this was followed by apologies from the head of state, His Majesty King Willem-Alexander. From that date to 1 July 2024, the Netherlands will acknowledge this in the Year of Commemoration. The apologies mark the formal start of an already ongoing soul searching practice which has taken root in the country, but also in other Western societies.

It is connected to questions of social cohesion, identity, nationality and belonging, development, acknowledgement, responsibility, trauma, fairness, etc. In Messerschmidt’s opinion, “it goes to the heart of who we are collectively, and who we aspire to be”. For these consular conversations, he will dive into the question: What, then, does that mean in (Dutch) diplomatic practice? He will present his experience with this collective and individual journey, and what that means for diplomatic work and for shaping international relations, hoping to open a conversation about similar questions and processes in Canada and other countries.

The SFU School for International Studies’ Consular Conversations series is a monthly public forum featuring discussions with members of the Consular Corps in Vancouver. These conversations are moderated by Dr. Ricardo Arredondo, an IS Adjunct Professor and Consul General of Argentina. The goal is to bring together the Consular Corps of British Columbia for public lectures that encourage dialogue on issues that transcend borders, explore inspiring topics, and cultivate connections. The primary audience will be members of the Consular Corps of British Columbia and the Schools for International Studies and Public Policy. This is an exceptional opportunity for students in both SFU units.


Sebastiaan Messerschmidt has been Consul General for the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and the Yukon and Northwest Territories, since August 2022. Before this, he served as Consul General in Cape Town, South Africa, worked as a policy advisor in the Office of His Majesty the King, lead the China team in the East Asia Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and worked as a personnel and management advisor in the HR department for his Ministry. He served the Netherlands-led NATO forces in Uruzgan, South Afghanistan, as a political / diplomatic advisor and held several other positions in the Ministry before that. His first posting abroad was in Sana’a, Yemen. He holds a degree in Communication Science of the Political, Social and Cultural Faculty of the University of Amsterdam. Sebastiaan is married to his Canadian wife and has three children. He is passionate about his family and friends, his team and his work, his dogs, his bicycle and the arts, with a preference for comedy and a wide range of music.

November 27, 2023

4:00 PM

SFU Harbour Centre Room 7000




  • School for International Studies