The Conference on the Political Future of the Dutch-Administered Caribbean



Having met at Bonaire, West Indies on December 1, 2016

Aware that the political status of Bonaire, St. Eustatius (Statia) and Saba was transformed in 2010 from being a part of the autonomous country of the (former) Netherlands Antilles to a new political arrangement unilaterally advanced by the Kingdom of the Netherlands akin to that of ‘partial integration,’ and characterized by serious political and economic inequality, rather than the promised political and economic equality originally envisaged.

Also aware that this new status is tantamount to unilateral annexation, and is wholly inconsistent with the minimum standards of full self-government and equality required on the basis of international principles of democratic governance,

Bearing in mind that the ‘public entity’ status does not reflect the wishes of the people of Bonaire who had previously selected a political status of “direct ties to the Kingdom” of the Netherlands in a 2004 referendum rather than the political status of “public entity,” which has been unilaterally and systematically imposed by the Kingdom since the 2010 dismantling of the Netherlands Antilles and the subsequent transition,

Also bearing in mind that the ‘public entity’ political status was formally rejected by the people of Bonaire in a 2015 referendum by a decisive ‘No’ vote of over 65 per cent, and taking note that discussions are underway for the conduct of a second referendum to be conducted, with United Nations (UN) involvement, so that the people can choose from a group of political status options of democratic governance and political equality,

Taking into account that the people of St. Eustatius voted in its 2005 referendum to remain within a restructured autonomous country of the Netherlands Antilles, but as the 2005 referendum results resulted in the dismantlement of that autonomous country, the Island Council of St. Eustatius subsequently approved a motion to accept the ‘direct ties’ arrangement offered to Bonaire and Saba, even as the people had not voted in favour of the status, and even as the nature of its political and economic inequality had not yet been revealed,

Also taking into account that the people of St. Eustatius in a 2014 referendum, under official observation of the UN Electoral Affairs Division of the Department of Political Affairs, formally rejected the imposed ‘public entity’ status by voting for a more autonomous status from a list of political status options, and recalling that the results of the 2014 referendum were formally certified and endorsed by motion of the Island Council on May 25, 2015 as a clear mandate of the people,

Alarmed that the Kingdom of the Netherlands, in spite of the democratically expressed wishes of the people of St. Eustatius and Bonaire in their rejection of the imposed political status of ‘public entity’ in 2014 and 2015, respectively, is proceeding through measures in the Kingdom Parliament to formally annex the two territories through a process of ‘anchoring’ the two islands in the Dutch Constitution, and further alarmed that this unilateral process of the Kingdom would result in a legitimization of the dependency status contrary to international norms of democratic governance and in opposition to the expressed will of the people of Bonaire and St. Eustatius,

Expresses its deep concern for the suspension of direct contact by the Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands with the democratically elected government of St. Eustatius, as announced by the Kingdom Minister of Interior Affairs and Kingdom Relations on November 30, 2016, following on from a similar suspension in 2015, which lasted for a period of six months,

Further expresses its deep concern for the imposition of unilateral financial supervision which requires Kingdom approval for public expenditures by the Government St. Eustatius,

Recalling the Motion adopted by the Island Council of Sint Eustatius on May 28, 2015 which confirmed, inter alia, that the population of St. Eustatius had not yet exhausted all its options as far as exercising its right to self-determination in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, and which reminded the Netherlands of its continued obligations towards St. Eustatius as part of the former Netherlands Antilles,

Taking note of the proposed ‘Raizal Statute’ submitted by the Raizal Authority of the archipelago of San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina to the Government of Columbia to modernize the political, socio-economic and constitutional relationship between the people of the archipelago and the State of Columbia, and affirming the self-determination aspirations of the Raizal people,

Also taking note of the “Assessment of self-governance sufficiency in conformity with internationally-recognised standards – Country Curaçao” undertaken in 2012 by the global Dependency Studies Project which found that the present governance model in place in Curaçao emerging from the 2010 dismantlement process of the Netherlands Antilles further reduced the level of self-government to a diminished autonomous model, and is not in compliance with contemporary international standards of full self-government,

  1. Affirms that the referendum results of 2014 in St. Eustatius, and of 2015 in Bonaire, constituted a formal, genuine and legitimate refutation of the ‘public entity’ status as expressed by the people,

and alarmed that the ‘public entity’ status imposed on the people of St. Eustatius and Bonaire had been misrepresented as a genuine status of political equality by the Kingdom of the Netherlands in 2010 at the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles,

  1. Deeply concerned that the people of Bonaire and St. Eustatius are presently being governed, contrary to democratic norms, under a political status of political and economic inequality not of their choosing,
  1. Reaffirms the continued applicability to Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba of relevant international law doctrine on self-determination and decolonization, including the provisions of Chapter XI on the “Declaration Regarding Non Self-Governing Territories,”
  1. Also reaffirms the continued applicability of Article 73 (b) of the United Nations (UN) Charter, which mandates that “Members of the United Nations which have or assume responsibilities for the administration of territories whose peoples have not yet attained a full measure of self-government recognize the principle that the interests of the inhabitants of these territories are paramount, and accept as a sacred trust the obligation to promote to the utmost, within the system of international peace and security established by the present Charter, the well-being of the inhabitants of these territories, and, to this end to develop self-government, to take due account of the political aspirations of the peoples, and to assist them in the progressive development of their free political institutions, according to the particular circumstances of each territory and its peoples and their varying stages of advancement,”
  1. Emphasizes the continued applicability to Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba of the UN Decolonization Declaration [Resolution 1514 (XV)], its companion Resolution 1541 (XV), and all other relevant UN resolutions, as well as the present Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism and its plan of action,
  1. Also emphasizes the applicability of relevant General Assembly resolutions which recognize that “the existence of colonialism in any form or manifestation,” as “incompatible with the Charter of the United Nations, the (Decolonization) Declaration and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ and further emphasizes the applicability of the relevant resolutions of the General Assembly which confirm that self-determination is a fundamental human right protected under the core human rights conventions including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), and the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), et al,
  1. Takes note with interest that the UN General Assembly Resolution 945 (X) of December 15, 1955 removing the former Netherlands Antilles from the UN list of Non Self-Governing Territories did not affirm that the former Netherlands Antilles had achieved a full measure of self-government, thus leaving open the possibility for the UN to resume formal review of the self-governance sufficiency of the former territory and any of its former constituent parts, in particular Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, with the aim of fostering a genuine process of self-determination,
  1. Calls on the Kingdom of the Netherlands, as a matter of urgency, to lift the financial supervision imposed on the Government of St. Eustatius, and to resume official communication with its democratically-elected government,
  1. Further calls on the Kingdom of the Netherlands, as a matter of urgency, to cease any action in its Parliament to legitimize (anchor) the public entity status of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba in the constitution of the Netherlands, and to enter into immediate consultations with the elected governments of both territories to carry out the will of the people of St. Eustatius and Bonaire, as democratically expressed in the respective 2014 and 2015 referenda, consistent with their inalienable right to self-determination.
  1. Calls for the Kingdom of the Netherlands and/or other relevant U.N. member States to initiate the necessary procedures for the re-inscription of the former Netherlands Antilles islands of Bonaire and St. Eustatius on the United Nations list of Non Self-Governing Territories to provide the international community with the required platform to review, in depth where democratic deficiencies in the dependency governance arrangement may exist,
  1. Endorses the commissioning of an independent Self Governance Assessment of the political status and constitutional arrangements of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, through the use of the “Corbin Self-Governance Indicators,” to determine the nature and scope of the public entity status according to international standards, and requests that the necessary resources be identified for the Assessment to be carried out as a key substantive document to inform the UN in its consideration of the re-inscription process of Bonaire and St. Eustatius.
  1. Calls on the Government of Colombia, as a matter of urgency, to enter into negotiations with the recognized representatives of the archipelago of San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina, under the observation of the relevant international human rights mechanism(s), on the proposed Raizal Statute which provides for alternative political status options to the status quo, which addresses a broad range of political, socio-economic and constitutional issues and concerns, and which is aimed at the modernization of the political status relationship between the Raizal people and the Colombian state, and recognizes the inalienable right of the people of the archipelago of San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina to self-determination in accordance with international law, in particular, the United Nations Charter and relevant human rights instruments.