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The Hague, Cyber Capacity, and International Cooperation. An Interview with The GFCE.

David van Duren: How The Netherlands, The Hague, and The ONE Conference Unite With The GFCE in The Battle Against Cyber Crime

Companies in The Hague and around the world are tackling cyber security topics new and old. Working together and using networks and ecosystems can help companies, countries, and institutions better face the challenges of today. To strengthen this cooperation, The Hague Declaration on the GFCE was set forth in 2015, creating The Global Forum on Cyberexpertise (GFCE), a coordinating platform and a unique institution situated in The Hague. The GFCE has since established unique and valuable perspectives on how to approach international problem-solving, solidified the role of the Netherlands as a leading country in the industry, and has further strengthened the city of The Hague’s role as a crucial player within cyber security.

The GFCE was founded by the Dutch Government with the core purpose of building and coordinating pre-existing international cyber capacity initiatives. Cyber capacity, a relatively new term at the time, has since become an increasingly important focal point within the global cyber security industry. As the industry started rising and more parties got involved, so too did the number of new topics, undefined boundaries, and levels of market fragmentation. The growing complexity has necessitated an increased focus on international collaboration. As David van Duren, the Director of the Secretariat at the GFCE, explained “there was a need for a neutral platform. To set up something new, and not as an organisation, but more like a community of countries and private organisations.”  David added, “we call that the multi-stakeholder approach. This is relevant within the cyber domain, because a lot of knowledge and expertise is not within government, but also within other parties, such as for example critical infrastructure organisations.” With this conclusion, the GFCE established itself as a leading platform focusing on three primary tasks: Coordinating cyber capacity projects, sharing knowledge and expertise, and matching individual needs for cyber capacities with offers of support from the community by assuming the role of a clearing house. Additionally, the organisation serves as a platform for high-level discussions and hosts events to assess the progress, policies, and assessments of current challenges within the cyber capacity domain.

david van duren

The GFCE’s approach to the topic of ethical hacking showcases how they have contributed towards finding a multi-stakeholder solution. “The Ministry of Security and Justice was one of the first who picked this up internationally. In particular, the Netherlands, together with some other countries like Hungary, and private companies like Microsoft”, David describes. In conjunction with the prominence of the Dutch government’s policy, the GFCE played a key role by acting as a platform for developing and sharing knowledge, experience, and awareness with the rest of the world. When it comes to other highlighted industry topics, such as tracking crimes on the Dark Web, the GFCE maintains a similar stance. “If there are some best practices or rational topics that have a high interest internationally, we make sure to be a platform for members to make that topic known”, David shared.


It is unsurprising that the GFCE considers both the Netherlands and the city of The Hague as vital to its success. As David outlines, “the Netherlands is seen as a neutral party who can lead international coalitions. This is crucial. Because of this, it was clear that only the Netherlands had the position to kickstart this endeavour, along with the commitment of all the other [parties] to start this.” Equally important, The Hague has long been regarded on the global scene as a city of international collaboration, security, and peace, making it the perfect hub for facilitating the organisation’s primary goals. In return for the Dutch commitment towards the GFCE, the organisation provides the country with a growing international platform and a coalition of supporting countries.

With this high level of mutually beneficial cooperation, The Hague’s ecosystem is perfectly suited for further solidifying international awareness and cooperation within cyber security. A prime example of this is the ONE Conference, which the GFCE is attending alongside other key cyber security companies. Marjo Baayen, the other Director of the GFCE’s Secretariat highlighted the key reasons for this. “The ONE Conference is one of the biggest conferences on cyber security, and one of the best conferences that’s taking place worldwide. There's a strong international angle to it, so strong partners will come over there.” Aside from the size and prominence of the participating parties, Marjo also takes note of the content’s importance, stating “the program has always been concerned with the latest developments and insights. We, as a global platform, will be focused mostly on capacity building.” The ONE Conference focuses on the most pressing trends in the cyber security industry, providing the participants with valuable information needed to develop new tools, ideas, and strategies in their fight against cyber crime.

marjo gfce

As the industry continues to develop, collaboration between entities like the ONE Conference, The Hague, and the GFCE becomes increasingly important. Combined, the entities work together relentlessly to fulfil one goal: Creating a safer society.