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Jan Brouwer appointed Officer of the Order of Oranje Nassau

26 April 2017
Jan Brouwer
Photo: Elmer Spaargaren

On Wednesday 26 April, Jan Brouwer has been appointed Officer of the Order of Oranje Nassau. Mayor P.E.J. Den Oudsten of the Municipality of Groningen presented the decoration in the Groningen Town Hall.

Professor of Legal Methods Jan Brouwer (Oosterbeek, 1951) focuses on international public law, fundamental rights and public order. Not only has he contributed to academic knowledge in this field, he has always felt that it is his responsibility to ensure that this knowledge serves the public interest, and has worked hard to make sure it does. As an expert in public order and safety, he is often asked by the media to comment on certain developments or events. He therefore deliberately joins the public debate on topics such as football vandalism, drugs issues and damage caused by the extraction of natural gas in Groningen.

Brouwer was the initiator of the Groningen Centre for Public Order and Safety, the only one of its kind in the world. Here a large group of researchers study how to maintain public order. The Centre serves as a source of information for academics and legal practitioners whose concern is issues in the field of public order, disasters and serious accidents. At the Centre research is conducted for ministries and municipalities, along with international comparative law research. Legal scholars from the University of Groningen and VU University Amsterdam work together at the Centre.

Jan Brouwer
Jan Brouwer

Public order and safety

With his annotations to legal verdicts, Brouwer plays an important role in lawmaking. His expertise makes him a regular speaker at conferences that touch on public order and safety. He is also considered to be an international authority in this field, and is director of the International Research Network on Law and Anti-Social Behaviour.

The problems stemming from gas extraction in Groningen have received Brouwer’s particular attention in recent years: his focus here has been not only on academic research but also on the inhabitants of the area where gas is extracted. People whose homes have been damaged by earthquakes regularly contact him. He is easy to approach for legal advice and can explain complicated information in a comprehensible manner. He played an important role in the case that was taken to the Council of State by the affected inhabitants. He performs this advisory role on a voluntary basis, alongside his work as professor.

Brouwer is also an inspired lecturer. Like no other he can kindle the interest of first-year students in legal methods. He enthusiastically highlights diverse topics in many fields of law and immediately places them in the social context. Students therefore gain a concrete idea of the problems that they are covering and are encouraged to think about the role of law. His students rate his teaching as ‘excellent’.

Student court

Alongside delivering lectures, Brouwer has played a leading role in the development and coordination of skills training at the Faculty, including the student court in the last year of the Bachelor’s programme. Here students take on the role of lawyer or judge in a ‘court case’ and practise their writing and speaking skills. During the ‘trial’ lawyers, judges and lecturers sit on the jury. Brouwer has thus combined theory and practice in a particularly meaningful manner. The success of this must primarily be attributed to him. He was indefatigable in his efforts to organize it and also made use of his large network within the judiciary and legal profession. This student court can quite rightly be called a flagship of the teaching at the Faculty of Law. Various faculties of law at other universities have since adopted the idea.

That Brouwer does more than the average lecturer is also clear from the fact that he contacts students who are stuck with their thesis and thus may not complete their studies, even in his free time, to encourage them to pick up where they left off. He is also always prepared to devote extra time to groups of students who need a further explanation of the material, also in his free time. Alongside his regular lectures, on his own initiative Brouwer organizes response sessions for students who wish to put in more preparation for examinations.

Advisor of mayors

Alongside his work, Brouwer has also served the community. He was honorary consul for France in Groningen and sat on the AWB complaints committee at the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Science. He also sits on the Advisory Board of The Netherlands Drug Policy Foundation and on the board of the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds in Groningen. It is no surprise that The Netherlands Drug Policy Foundation asked him to join its Advisory Board: he has repeatedly published about drugs issues. Furthermore, the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations asked him to conduct research into legal and administrative instruments that can be used to counter drugs issues. This resulted in the book ‘Wapenen tegen drugsoverlast’ [Defend against drugs nuisance].

Brouwer is editor of the renowned handbook ‘Tekst en Commentaar Openbare Orde en Veiligheid’ [Text and commentary on Public Order and Safety], which examines maintaining public order, dealing with disasters, crisis management and fighting terrorism. Politicians and public officials also benefit from his knowledge of this field. He advises, for instance, the mayors of Rotterdam, Eindhoven, Emmen and Groningen on public order and such matters as how to deal with football vandalism.

Last modified:14 April 2020 11.07 a.m.
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