GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – The Dutch Second Chamber Committee for Kingdom Relations held a round table discussion on the proposal for a Dispute Regulation on Wednesday, May 29th, 2019.
The Ministers Plenipotentiary of the three Kingdom Countries, as well as renowned experts in the fields of constitutional law and Kingdom Relations, shared their respective country’s main objections on the draft Dispute Regulation.
The general sentiment is either dismiss the existing proposal and present a new one or make fundamental amendments to the existing proposal.
Minister Plenipotentiary of Sint Maarten, drs. Jorien Wuite, emphasized the importance of binding arbitration: If an independent body would find that the Kingdom Charter was contravened, the Kingdom Council of Ministers should act accordingly, Wuite stated. “Anything less would show contempt for our highest law: The Kingdom Charter”.
Minister Wuite also emphasized the importance of working with the other Parliaments in finding a suitable solution and offered her assistance in this process.
After Minister Plenipotentiary Wuite’s contribution to these deliberations, many experts from the panel viewed her stance and comments, which were shared on behalf of both the Government and Parliament of Sint Maarten, as concise and that they had to be further explored and/ or incorporated into the final draft.
Minister Plenipotentiary of Curacao, Anthony Begina, outlined Curacao’s three main objections to the proposal: the fact that the Dutch Prime Minister could veto the dispute regulation being invoked; the fact that Kingdom legislation is excluded from the scope of the regulation; and the fact that in the current draft, the Kingdom Council of Ministers could dismiss the outcome of the procedure.
Minister Plenipotentiary of Aruba, Guilfred Besaril, compared the position of the Caribbean countries of the Kingdom to the position of The Netherlands within the European Union (EU). “Within the EU, there are mechanisms in place to protect the smaller countries against the power of the big countries,” Besaril stated.
“Why should the same principle not apply to the Kingdom?”
The constitutional law experts were all in agreement that the present proposal is not what was agreed on in 2010. They pointed out several flaws in the proposal, such as the exclusion of Kingdom legislation within the scope of dispute regulation.
Overall, the legal experts considered the non-binding character of the current proposal to be unacceptable. Prof. Ernst Hirsch Ballin, a former Dutch Minister of Justice and former Minister of Interior Affairs and Kingdom Relations, repeatedly emphasized the fact that the Kingdom could benefit from a binding dispute resolution mechanism. “Yes, the Kingdom Charter may be vague and inconsistent on some points”, he responded to a question from Dutch Member of Parliament (MP) André Bosman (VVD), “but an independent body could contribute greatly to the political discussions in the Kingdom, by clarifying the constitutional framework of the Kingdom.”
Near the end of the discussion, when questioned by MP Nevin Özütok (GroenLinks) to cast a fictitious vote on the proposal as if they were members of the Second Chamber, all legal experts agreed that the proposal should be drastically amended or rejected, depending on the opinions of the Parliamentarians of the Caribbean Kingdom countries.
Notwithstanding their final answer, the discussion ended positively, as questions yet unanswered were now clear and positions shared before the round table discussion have been further clarified.
Quite some members of the Second Chamber committee urged the Ministers Plenipotentiary to submit a proposal for amendments. Minister Plenipotentiary Wuite is therefore of the opinion that the overall message is clear: focus on amendments to the proposal and do this in close and continuous collaboration with all parties involved.
The first weeks of June are therefore critical for the Caribbean Kingdom Countries and their Parliaments to formulate amendments on the most fundamental elements of the existing draft dispute regulation which should lead to all parties being in consensus on a final proposal, according to a communique from the Sint Maarten House in The Hague.
PHOTO: Minister Plenipotentiary Jorien Wuite