MP Heyliger Marten Seeks Information on Decolonization Process and Capacity Building
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In a letter dated July 25, 2022, Member of Parliament (MP) Grisha Heyliger Marten has sent a seven-page letter along with supporting documents to the Prime Minister/Minister of General
Affairs Silveria Jacobs with respect to finalizing the decolonization process and capacity building where MP Heyliger Marten finds that they are fundamental to ensuring St. Maarten’s viability and development in the short-, medium-, and long-term.
The letter reads as follows: As representative of the people of St. Maarten, I have serious concerns about the progress of the ongoing processes thus far.
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Therefore, with reference to motion 1 as passed by Parliament on November 5th, 2020, and the relevant recent developments,
and based on the written and verbal information which you have provided to Parliament since taking office,
I am hereby submitting the following questions and concrete recommendations.
You are kindly requested to provide your responses by August 22nd, 2022,
in order to allow members of Parliament to discuss said responses with you in a public meeting prior to the IPKO meetings.
During these deliberations, you can indicate which resources or other support you would require to carry out the recommendations.
The IPKO is scheduled to take place in The Netherlands from September 27th-20th, 2022. Seeing the extended history of the debates on these topics, I assume that providing a response in a timely manner will be feasible.
I trust that my questions and concrete recommendations will guide you and your Cabinet towards finalizing the processes in question,
and provide you with the required (political) support in the negotiations with the other Kingdom partners and entities outside of the Kingdom.
1.Execution de Graaff c.s./van Raak c.s. motions
As you are aware, the former State Secretary for Kingdom relations had indicated to both Houses of the Dutch Parliament that both motions would be executed jointly.
In doing so, he was reminded that the De Graaf motion had a broader scope, and requested to take this into consideration in execution both motions jointly.
However, in her letter to the Dutch House of Representatives dated July 5th, 2022, State Secretary for Kingdom Relations van Huffelen states the following: “…
Naar aanleiding van voornoemde mode Van Raak is een ambtelijke werkgroep ingesteld, bestaande uit vertegenwoordigers van de vierlanden.
Deze werkgroep heeft in gezamenlijkheid een document opgesteld om te komen tot een visie op de verantwoordelijkheden binnen het Koninkrijk.
Daarbij is afgesproken dat ieder land voorzich deze notitie voorlegt aan de binnen elk van de regeringen verantwoordelijke bewindspersonen.
In de notitie wordt het verzoek in de mode aan een eerste inhoudelijke analyse onderworpen, waarbij wordt sdlgestaan bij de kansen en valkuilen van een overleg over verantwoordelijkheden binnen het Koninkrijk en er worden voorstellen gedaan voor een verder proces rond de uitvoering van de mode.
Graag had ik djdens het vierlandenoverleg op 20junijl. Met de ministerspresidenten verder gesproken over de uitvoering van de mode,
maar wegens djdsgebrek zijn we aan dit belangrijke agendapunt niet toegekomen.
Tijdens het eerstvolgende bestuurlijk overleg zal bespreking alsnog plaatsvinden. In de hoop dat ik u daarna kan meedelen hoe we de mode concreet invulling gaan geven…”
Based on this statement, one has to conclude that the execution of the de Graaf c.s. motion, which sees to revising the Kingdom Charter (“Statuut”) in consultation with all six of the Caribbean islands within the Kingdom, has not (yet) been started.
This is worrisome for a number of reasons. First of all, I have been informed that the working group to which Ms. van Huffelen refers is the “Ambtelijk Wetgevingsoverleg Koninkrijksrelaties” (AWOK).
If this is indeed the case, and considering the political scope and purport of the de Graaf c.s and van Raak c.s. motions, it is clear that a document prepared by the AWOK cannot form the basis of the (joint) execution of the two motions in question. The fact that the BES islands are not represented in the AWOK at administrative nor political level in itself.
In the second place, the legislative branches are the ones to pass (new) legislation. Therefore, the execution of motions of this nature and importance require the active involvement of the relevant legislative branches,
i.c. Parliaments and Island Councils, from the onset. This was also the case in the process leading up to 10-10-10.
The third reason for concern is that, according to Ms. van Huffelen, the document prepared by the AWOK merely provides an initial analysis of the request as outlined in (only) the van Raak c.s. motion.
This fact appears to indicate a lack of urgency, commitment, and willingness to diligently execute the motion in question (let alone in conjunction with the de Graaf c.s. motion), and creates the impression of creating an unnecessarily drawn-out process.
Is the AWOK indeed the working group to which Ms. van Huffelen refers in her letter of July 5th, 2022? 2. If so, can you please provide Parliament with information in the structure, objective and assignment of the AWOK, as well as its report on the execution of the van Raak c.s. motion as referred to by Ms.
van Huffelen refers in her letter of July 5th, 2022. 3. Are you aware that the former State Secretary committed to the joint execution of both motions? If so, please motivate why you agree or disagree with this approach. 4. Can you please provide Parliament with your update on the (joint) execution of the de Graaf c.s. and van Raak c.s. motions,
and indicate why both motions are not carried out jointly if this is in fact the case? 5. Have you followed up with the Government of The Netherlands regarding the execution of the CERD recommendations of August 25th, 2021? If so, what was the outcome of this follow-up. If not, why not?
Considering: • Motion 1 of the Parliament of St. Maarten of November 5th, 2020 (i.c. resolution6); • Your answers to Parliament dated October 6th, 2020; • The CERD recommendations of August 25th, 2021; • The pending execution of de Graaf c.s. and van Raak c.s. motions; • The political consensus in the Parliament of St. Maarten to propose amendments to the Kingdom Charter; • The motion of Wuite c.s. in the Dutch House of Representatives to organize a Kingdom Conference including The Netherlands and the six Caribbean islands within the Kingdom in 2023; • The conclusions of the “Factsheet on article 73 of the UN Charter as commissioned by the Dutch House of Representatives as part of the knowledge agenda (“Kennisagenda”) process.
I hereby submit the following recommendations for your serious and urgent consideration:a) Present a proposal to the Kingdom Council of Ministers to establish a working group similar to the Voorbereidingscommissie Ronde Tafel Conferentie (VRTC), which managed the consultative and legislative processes leading up to 10-10-10. This working group should consist of representatives of the executive and legislative branches of all seven partners within the Kingdom, with supporting external advisors as desired/required. The main task of the working group should be to prepare the Kingdom Conference of 2023, including organizing administrative and political consultations in preparation for said Kingdom Conference.b) Present a proposal to the Kingdom Council of Ministers for it to submit the Kingdom Charter to a reputable and independent international law firm that is admitted to practice before the International Court of Justice for vetting against the UN Charter. 2.Capacity building for St. Maarten based on international support
Within the Caribbean part of the Kingdom there seems to be consensus among the legislative branches that the draft COHO law should in its current form is not acceptable. As Prime Minister, you have also stated in responses to Parliament that, since the Tijdelijke Werk Organisatie (TWO) is already in place and functioning, the COHO law is not needed. You indicated that a mutual arrangement (“onderlinge regeling”) can also achieve the objective of reforms.
You also stated that within the COHO framework, there is no clear indication when capacity building will take place, while one of the main reasons for establishing the COHO as used by the Government of the Netherlands was the lack of capacity. You also indicated that “inhouse training” will eventually take place via a “Bestuursacademie.
Based on your written responses to Parliament dated October 6th, 2020, September 13th, 2021 (DIV 11647A, IS/004/21-22), and May 3rd, 2022 (IS/852/21-22), I have a number of follow-up questions and recommendations.
In summary, I believe that, based on article 73 of the UN Charter and its peremptory right to self-determination and a full measure of self-government, there is no (legal) rationale nor added value to establishing a COHO or a mutual agreement.
As a SIDS, St. Maarten can and should access international resources for capacity building and carrying out the reforms it wishes to carry out based on the UN Multi-country Sustainable Development Framework (MSDF), and seek international support for full debtcancellation/reparations from The Netherlands in accordance with article 73 of the UN Charter. I am pleased and encouraged that you made reference to this involvement of international organizations in your address at the United Nations High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development 2022.
This should be initially done with the assistance of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom, after which that of the Government of St. Maarten can take over. Examples in the BVI, St. Kitts and Nevis can be used for St. Maarten to create similar structures.
Seeking regional support and using regional resources, systems, and solutions for St. Maarten’s development is the only way to achieve true nation building while respecting our heritage, based on our own needs, culture, and geographic location.
Did you receive any response to your letters dated July 9th, 2020, to the Prime Ministers of Barbados and St. Vincent and the Grenadines with as subject: “Seeking regional for the injustices experienced within the Dutch Kingdom”? If so, can those responses be provided to Parliament. If not, did you follow-up accordingly with the respective Prime Ministers in international fora or otherwise? 2. Did you take the opportunity to address this issue or that of decolonization in general with your (regional) peers or other (regional) political representatives while representing the Kingdom of The Netherlands at the “United Nations High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development 2022” in New York? If so, what was the feedback received. If not, why not? 3. What is the position/are the plans of the Government of The Netherlands/the Kingdom, if any, regarding CARICOM membership for Aruba, Curasao, and St. Maarten specifically? 4. What is the status of St. Maarten’s request for membership of CARICOM, which steps have been taken and when were they taken. Which steps still need to be take, and what is the concrete plan of action to do so? 5. Does Government have a clear and concrete plan regarding regional integration? If so, can this be provided to Parliament? If not, why not? 6. Is the Government of St. Maarten considering applying for OECD and/or other regional/international memberships, as was recently suggested and discussed in Parliament? 7. Are you aware of the following statement in the Voluntary National Review (VNR) on the Sustainable Development Goals as submitted by the Kingdom of The Netherlands:
“…Despite underfunded institutions, it is necessary to carry out reforms andfocus on partnerships where this is opportune, both within the Kingdom and at regional and international level. The transformational agenda offered by the SDGframework can foster an integrated approach, with a focus on policy coherence and a long-term perspective. Such an approach considers the economic, social and environmental dimensions of the much-needed structural change and can help countries build back better and stronger. Since April 2020 the Netherlands has provided liquidity support to Aruba, Curagao and Sint Maarten to soften the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the islands’ populations, businesses andjobs. This support is conditional on the countries implementing administrative reforms and strengthening their publicfinances and economic resilience. To this end, the Netherlands agreed Country Packages (Landspakketten) with each of the three Caribbean countries. An independent Caribbean Agencyfor Reform and Development (COHO) is to be established to assist the countries in implementing the intended reforms. Aruba, Curagao and Sint Maarten all endorse and participate in the UN Multi-country Sustainable Development Framework (MSDF), whose priorities are closely linked to their own national priorities…”.
Was the Government of St. Maarten involved in preparing this VNR, and if so, which Ministry/Department? 9. Do you agree with the statement that the (to be established) COHO is: “…An independent Caribbean Agencyfor Reform and Development…”? If so, please motivate why. If not, will you inform the Government of the Kingdom accordingly? 10. Are you familiar with CARICOM’s “TEN POINT PLAN FOR REPARATORY JUSTICE”? 11. Are you aware that CARICOM has recently drafted a letter to re-engage European nations (including The Netherlands) on the unresolved issue of reparations for the region (see: https://amandala.com.bz/news/reparations-sub-committee-drafts-letterfrom-caricom-to-european-countries/)? 12. Do you believe that St. Maarten should seek slavery reparations from the Netherlands via CARICOM? If so, how do you suggest that this takes place? If not, why not? 13. What is the status of the execution of the motion of MP Pantophlet regarding debt cancellation? Has this been discussed with the Government of the Netherland? If so, what was the outcome? If not, why not?
Considering the above, I hereby suggest that your Ministry/Office prepares a short and concrete plan of action plan aimed at: a) Regional integration of St. Maarten in the broadest sense of the word. b) Establishing a regional Coordinator’s Office on St. Maarten (within the jurisdiction of the Regional Coordinator in Trinidad and Tobago) which can collaborate with the UN entities which are already established on St. Maarten like UNESCO, and merge with the TWO and NRPB structures already in place. c) Actively engage CARICOM and the Government of The Netherlands related to the reparatory justice and debt forgiveness processes. d) Presenting the plans and required legislation to Parliament for handling.
In closing, and with reference to your Emancipation Day 2022 speech, I want to express the hope that the Government and Parliament of St. Maarten will continue with the emancipation process that our ancestors started centuries ago.
By doing so, we will put Soualiga first, and pay tribute to the efforts of those who fought for freedom before us by eradicating all remaining elements of colonization that hold back our nation and people from developing to our full potential.