Ernst Hirsch Ballin


Justice Leader Emeritus

Former Minister of Justice, The Netherlands. Honorary University Professor at Tilburg University and member of the Scientific Council for Government Policy

The future of the European Union depends on our ability to include cultural and institutional diversity based in the recognition of human values.
– Ernst Hirsch Ballin during a speech at the French Embassy in The Hague, 30 October 2014.

Hirsch Ballin is a former member of the government of the Netherlands. First he was a member of the House of Representatives and served as a member of the Senate. Later he became a member of the Council of State. He served as Minister of Justice (1989 – 1994 and again between 2006 – 2010), Minister of Netherlands Antillean and Aruban Affairs (1989 – 1994) and Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Affairs (February – October 2010).

After his education, Ernst Hirsch Ballin worked as a research assistant at the University of Amsterdam, where he also obtained his doctorate, and later as a legal officer at the Ministry of Justice. For more than 15 years, in the periods before and in between his ministerial duties, he served as a judge.

Ernst Hirsch Ballin has been very active in various academic activities. Besides being an editor and member of the editorial board of several legal journals and series, he is a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the Section for Legal Research and Chair of the research commission for the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies KITLV. Ernst Hirsch Ballin is also a member of the Advisory Council on International Affairs and Chair of the Commission for Human Rights (Adviesraad voor Internationale Vraagstukken). He is involved in many other research, cultural and social activities as a chair or member of foundations/organizations (e.g. Catholic Radio and Television Organisation, Strategy committee of the Christian-democratic party, Government advisory committee for relations with the religious institutions).

Hirsch Ballin has been awarded with Dutch as well as foreign awards and presidential decorations. In 2014, Officer in the Order of the Legion of Honor (France), Award of honour of the Dutch Lawyers Association; in 2012 Adriaan Borst Award; in 2010 Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau; in 1994 Knight in the Order of the Dutch Lion; in 1980 G.A. van Poelje Award of the Association for Public Administration.

Currently, he is a Distinguished University Professor and Full Professor at the Department for Public Law, Jurisprudence and Legal History at Tilburg University. In November, 2016, he was appointed Honorary University Professor because of his exceptional track record in the field of teaching and interdisciplinary research. Hirsch Ballin is the first professor at Tilburg University to receive this title.

As a justice leader with many decades of experience behind him, Hirsch Ballin makes the following observation concerning leadership in the justice sector:

“It can be a quite lonely task to serve justice. It is not always on the forefront of public attention. It is not always the highest priority of political leaders. Nevertheless, those who are in charge of serving justice in their countries, have a task to continue their work, even in circumstances where they feel that their support is not as solid and firm as they might wish. In such situations, it is important for colleagues all over the world to experience that they are not alone. That we are with them.”

In 2017, Ernst Hirsch Ballin became a Justice Leader Emeritus.