“Staatssecretaris” is not a ” Secretary of State’

  • By Koop Tissingh

staatssecretaris = deputy minister / junior minister

The best translation of  Dutch “staatssecretaris” is “deputy minister” (e.g. used in the British newspaper The Financial Times) or “junior minister” . The British terms deputy minister or junior minister are appropriate in the Dutch context of a constitutional monarchy, which is comparable to the “Westminster model”.

“Undersecretary” or (BrE) Under-Secretary is also an acceptable translation, though less applicable than deputy minister or junior minister because, in the United Kingdom, the term represents a lower ranking position(3rd rank) while, in in the USA,  it refers to a career politician/administrator.

Definitely wrong are the translations  “State Secretary” or “Secretary of State”, which have been mistakenly included in major Dutch dictionaries, and have hence also been erroneously used in the official correspondence of Dutch government ministries. In British-speaking countries, a  Secretary of State is a (Dutch) “minister” and, in American-speaking countries, a State Secretary or Secretary of State, refers at the federal level to the “Minister van Buitenlandse Zaken”. Read more.


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