Rudolphus (Ruud) Franciscus Marie Lubbers (born May 1939 in Rotterdam) studied economics at the Netherlands School of Economics (the predecessor of Erasmus School of Economics and Erasmus University Rotterdam). As suggested by the title of his 1962 thesis, “The influence of differing productivity trends in various countries on the current account of the balance of payments”, his main interest was in monetary affairs.
Lubbers had very fond memories of his years at the Netherlands School of Economics, mostly thanks to the succession of outstanding professors who taught there. He said: “This more than anything made it such a worthwhile experience. Imagine sitting in a lecture hall, listening to Professor Jan Tinbergen or Professor Johannes Witteveen, to name just two luminaries. Actually, my time studying there finished too soon – although thanks to Tinbergen, when I graduated under Witteveen’s supervision, it was still with honors.” He originally planned an academic career but was compelled by family circumstances to join the management of Lubbers’ Construction Workshops and Machinery Fabricators, Hollandia B.V.
From May 1973 to December 1977 Ruud Lubbers was Minister for Economic Affairs in the Den Uyl-government as a member of the Catholic People’s Party (KVP). He chose to return to Parliament on the formation of the Van Agt-government in 1977, becoming Senior Deputy Parliamentary Leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA), the Alliance between the KVP and the other two main denominational parties.
In the autumn of 1978 Lubbers became Parliamentary Leader of the Alliance. From 1982 to July 1986 and from July 1986 to November 1989 he was Prime Minister of the first and second Lubbers-government CDA-VVD alliances. On the latter date he was reappointed as Prime Minister to lead the third Lubbers-government, a CDA-PvdA alliance.
In August 1994 Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers finished his political career. In 2001 he was appointed the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Lubbers returned to domestic politics in 2006, when he was tasked with forming the second Cabinet of Jan Peter Balkenende, (nowadays Professor of Governance, Institutions and Internationalisation at Erasmus School of Law and Erasmus School of Economics). Ruud Lubbers had an advisory role in the government formation in 2010.
Lubbers died in Rotterdam on 14 February 2018, at the age of 78. of natural causes Among the world leaders who offered condolences were former President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev, Prime Minister of Russia and former President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev, Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel, Secretary-General of the United Nations and former Prime Minister of Portugal and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi and President of the European Commission and former Prime Ministers of Luxembourg Jean-Claude Juncker. His ceremonial funeral was held on 20 February 2018 and was attended by Prime Minister Mark Rutte and all living former Prime Ministers Dries van Agt, Wim Kok and Jan Peter Balkenende.
In May 2004, Lubbers was accused by Cynthia Brzak, an American UNHCR employee, of sexual harassment following a meeting in his office that was attended by two other UNHCR staff members. The complaint was reported in the media, prompting Lubbers to inform UNHCR staff about the accusation. On this occasion, he denied any wrongdoing and rejected the allegation against him. On 2 June 2004, the United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), which was tasked with investigating the accusation, sent its report to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. In its public annual report to the UN Secretary-General (presented to the UN General Assembly), the OIOS reported concerning the case that it had "submitted a report to the Secretary-General supporting the allegations and recommended that appropriate actions be taken accordingly."
Lubbers was an active member of the international Earth Charter Commission and reached out, especially to youth in the Netherland, with the message of the Earth Charter for a sustainable and peaceful world.
On 10 October 1962, Lubbers married Ria Hoogeweegen (born 12 November 1940) and had two sons and one daughter, Paul, Bart and Heleen.