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Letter to the Minister of BZK

The Hon. Chairman of the Ministerial Council of the Association of Caribbean States

5-7 Sweet Briar Road, St. Clair

P.O. Box 660, Port of Spain

Trinidad and Tobago, West Indies

Kralendijk/Willemstad, June 2nd, 2016

Excellency!,

The undersigned, representing their respective organizations and/or constituents in both government and civil society, hereby wish to urgently bring the following to the attention of you, your organization, and its Member States.

After having implemented failed and misguided decolonization policies which were in conflict with United Nations resolutions regarding the decolonization of its Caribbean dependencies since the acceptance of the Charter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands (“Statuut van het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden”) by the United Nations in 1954, the Government of the Netherlands has continued its blatant disregard for-, and neglect and violation of the social-, economic-, and human rights of the populations of said dependencies after a new constitutional order within the Dutch Kingdom went into effect on October 10th, 2010.

Despite the fact that numerous publications and reports, some of which were commissioned by the Government of the Netherlands, have confirmed said disregard, neglect, and violations as pointed out by the undersigned and others to the Government of the Netherlands on different occasions, and have furthermore concluded that the new constitutional order and the manner in which it came about are not in accordance with United Nations resolutions 1514, 1541, and 2625, the Dutch Government has refused to address these serious matters in an adequate manner befitting a country of its standing in the international legal order.

This is particularly true for the three Dutch dependencies Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba, commonly referred to as the “BES-islands”, who as of October 10th, 2010 can be considered to have been integrated into the Netherlands, a status comparable to that as described in United Nations resolution 1541, sub principle VI, c.

Seeking to correct the decolonization process which resulted in the new constitutional order of October 10th, 2010, and exercising their right to self-determination, both Bonaire and Sint Eustatius held plebiscites in 2015 with the consent and support of the Government of the Netherlands, the outcome of which clearly indicated a resounding rejection of the new constitutional status of the islands and the manner in which it came about.

As recently as April 2016, the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights (College voor de Rechten van de mens) published its recommendations regarding a report commissioned by the Government of the Netherlands. The report was intended to provide an independent evaluation of the position of the three islands Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba as special overseas municipalities of the Netherlands since the new constitutional order within the Kingdom went into effect on October 10, 2010.

It was drafted by a committee headed by former Minister for Kingdom Affairs, the Hon. Liesbeth Spies, and, not surprisingly to the undersigned and the population of the three islands, its main and most important conclusion was that, despite certain improvements for the islands’populations, their new constitutional status has mainly brought dissappointments and concerns about the basic means of living, in particular for the most vulnerable groups in society.

Ignoring both the recommendations of the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights and the opinions of the three islands, the Dutch Cabinet decided to ignore the evaluation report’s findings, and merely make some cosmetic adjustments to it’s policies towards the three islands.

What is even more concerning and unacceptable to the undersigned, is that the Dutch Government is now pressing ahead to urgently seek the approval of the Dutch Parliament on June 6th, 2016 for the permanent embedding of the three islands into the Constitution of the Netherlands. If this would be to become a reality, it would mean that the populations of the three islands will have been recolonized as second-, or third rate citizens of the Netherlands, without having been able to exercise their right to self determination as intended by the United Nations Charter and its relevant resolutions, condemned by the Netherlands to living in a perpetual state of violation of their social-, economic-, and human rights.

The undersigned, supporting each others respective, unsuccessful efforts over the past decades to address the matters outlined above in consultation with the Government of the Netherlands, are therefore humbly and urgently seeking the support of your organization and its Member States with achieving the following objectives:

  • Having the two islands Bonaire and Sint Eustatius (re-)listed/(re-)inscribed by the United Nations as non-self-governing territories;

  • Having self-governance assessment carried out for both islands, as was done for the island territory of Curacao;

  • Allowing the populations of the two islands to exercise their right to self-determination as prescribed by United Nations resolutions 1514, 1541, and 2625.

We will collectively and/or individually continue to champion our case, and that of the constituents of Associate Members of the ACS who we represent, at the United Nations, and trust that we can count on your support during that process.

With the highest esteem, we remain,

Respectfully,

James Finies

President Nos Kier Boneiru Bek

Clyde I. van Putten

Faction Leader Sint Eustatius Labor Party

Rueben Merkman

Faction Leader United People’s Coalition

Robert C.M. Beukenboom

Faction Leader Partido Demokratiko Boneriano

The Minister of Interior and Kingdom Affairs

Turfmarkt 147 | 2511 DP | Den Haag
Postbus 20011 | 2500 EA | Den Haag

Nederland

Bonaire/Willemstad, June 2nd, 2016

Dear Minister Plasterk,

Taking into consideration the (recent) developments with regards to the (recent handling of the) evaluation report of the “Spies Committee”, the undersigned, representing their respective organizations and/or constituents in both government and civil society, hereby wish to inform you as follows.

We have taken note of the answers which you provided to the Dutch Parliament (Tweede Kamer) in your letter of June 1st, 2016 leading up to your debate with the Parliament on the evaluation report which is scheduled for June 6th, 2016, and consider said answers, the official standpoint of your cabinet to the report, and the underlying intentions which they both represent to be reason for great concern for different reasons. The main reason is that it is clear that the so-called “consultation” with the three islands on the results of the report has not been conducted as it should be. A second reason is that the feedback of the islands and other suggestions and recommendations, like the IdeeVersa report and the recommendations of the College voor de Rechten van de Mens, are completely ignored by you and your cabinet. 

Seeing the importance and the potential far-reaching ramification of the handling of the evaluation report for the inhabitants of the three islands, combined with other serious developments on the constitutional front during the last two years, we have consulted with each other and decided to join forces in addressing these matters in a larger context and on an international level.

The first step was to dispatch the attached letter, which is self-explanatory, to the Association of Caribbean states for their immediate and urgent attention.

In light of the above, we are respectfully yet urgently request you to postpone the debate on June 6th, 2016, in order to prevent (additional) irreversible damage to an already flawed process from occurring.

We trust that you will honor our request, and that this will pave the way for constructive two-way dialogue between your government and those of the three islands on the way forward aimed at coming to permanent solutions for current (and potential future) problems.

Respectfully,

James Finies

President Nos Kier Boneiru Bek

Clyde I. van Putten

Faction Leader Progressive Labor Party

Rueben Merkman

Faction Leader United People’s Coalition

Robert C.M. Beukenboom

Faction Leader Partido Demokratiko Boneriano

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