THE NETHERLANDS / SINT MAARTEN — In an address delivered at the 32nd InterExpo Congress in the Hague last Thursday, independent Member of Parliament Grisha Heyliger-Marten called on drastic structural reforms to the Kingdom Charter in order to bring it in full compliance with international law.
The theme of the Congress was “Equivalence within the Kingdom of the Netherlands”. It was attended by politicians from the Netherlands and several islands of the former Netherlands Antilles as well as representatives of civil society and academic scholars. The Congress ended with a panel discussion on Thursday afternoon which was followed by an informal gathering.
Heyliger-Marten’s address was entitled “Equality: the 68 year old fata morgana of the Kingdom of the Netherlands”, and centered around the fact that the relations within the Kingdom are based on equivalence and not equality.
“The choice of the theme for the congress was very timely”, Heyliger-Marten said. “It allowed me to address the myth of equality between the Netherlands and the Caribbean islands. Chasing this fata morgana has been the main cause of the tensions and conflicts between the Netherlands and its Dutch colonies since the inception of the Kingdom Charter.”
Giving a historic overview, Heyliger-Marten pointed out that when the Charter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands (“het Statuut voor het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden”) was presented to the General Assembly of the United Nations for vetting and approval in 1954, the Dutch word “gelijkwaardigheid” (equivalance) literally got lost in translation as “equality”.
“This led the members of the General Assembly, who communicated solely in the official
languages English, French, and Spanish, to believe that the Kingdom Charter created absolute equality between the Netherlands and its colonies in full compliance with UN obligations. As a result of this misuse of the word “equality”, 21 member states voted in favour of the the Kingdom Charter, with 10 voting against and 33 abstaining”, Heyliger-Marten explained. She went on to point out that State Secretary van Huffelen has recently acknowledged that there actually no equality between Holland and the Caribbean islands.
According to Heyliger-Marten, this admission combined with other developments clear the way for bringing the Kingdom Charter in full compliance with international law.
She listed a number of steps towards reaching this goal, which are:
- Sending a joint delegation with representatives of the Caribbean and Dutch Governments to the United Nations in order to discuss which actions are required by the Dutch State to be discharged from its obligations in article 73 a-d of the United Nations Charter.
- Following up on the CERD recommendations as issued on August 25th, 2021.
- Expediting the executing the “de Graaf” and “van Raak” motions.
- A formal Dutch response to-, and follow up on the petition filed at the Special rapporteur
and Working Group of the UN.
- A formal position and follow-up by the Dutch Parliament on the factsheet on article 73.
- Making the Kingdom Conference 2023 a priority.
In closing, Heyliger-Marten stated that the Holland the six Caribbean islands have only two
The first one is bringing the Kingdom in full compliance with international law, and the second is ending the current dysfunctional constitutional relationships, and dismantling the current structure of the Kingdom.
“Personally and realistically speaking, and looking back at how we got here, I believe it would be best for everybody in the Dutch Kingdom to work towards this second alternative as soon as possible, starting with the steps I outlined. This would allow us to turn the fata morgana into a oasis of peace and cooperation”, Heyliger-Marten concluded.