Not totally unexpected, my recent comments on the relationships in the Dutch Kingdom have evoked quite some reactions. I welcome these reactions, because I believe it is a discussion we must have, sooner rather than later.
My comments, however, had to do with the following: Theoretically, the competencies and authorities between the Dutch countries and the Kingdom level of Government are quite clear in the Charter of the Dutch Kingdom. The main areas of Kingdom responsibilities are Defense, Nationality and Defense.
No one would argue though, that the so-called equality of all 4 Dutch countries in reality is far from such. On paper, yes, in reality, not. However, the Charter makes no distinction between the former colonies, now Dutch Caribbean countries on one hand, and the country the Netherlands (Holland) on the other.
Other than it is generally perceived to be, the article in the Charter that is reason for much contention is article 43, sub 2, the so-called guarantee function of the Kingdom. Mind you, this guarantee article is not limited to the Caribbean countries of the Kingdom. Hypothetically, this article could also be invoked for Holland.
The application of this article, however, is cause for much contention. As long as the Kingdom government believes this article can be applied to force its will on one or more countries, without any accountability, this will continue to sour the relationships within the Dutch Kingdom.
Part of any democratic system is that government’s decisions can be challenged and/or objected to (redress). The kingdom government is not immune to this scrutiny. And surely not under the circumstance that there is no Kingdom Parliament to which the Kingdom government is accountable.
It is either that we will have to condition the “guarantee” article of the Kingdom Charter; eliminate it altogether or ensure that there are workable checks and balances, also on the level of the Kingdom government.
I will leave the discussion on the dispute regulation for another time. But this instrument, if properly devised, could be an effective element of the checks and balances. Hence, my disappointment that rather than taking the lead given by the 4 parliaments of the Kingdom, the Kingdom government decided to pursue the course of its own draft kingdom law for a dispute regulation. Any changes to this draft, in keeping with the points of departure, established by the 4 Parliaments, will now have to be “fought out” in the second chamber, where the cards are stacked against the Dutch Caribbean countries.
Coming back to the Integrity Chamber ordinance, the argumentation by the St. Maarten Constitutional Court (SCC) leading to its rejection of the the Integrity Chamber Ordinance is so fundamental, that the reworking of this ordinance by the government, in my opinion must be of a fundamentally different approach to the ordinance rejected by the SCC.
And the question begs, then what? Will the hand of our government be forced to go against proper governance?
Sarah Wescot William
Leader of the Democratic Party