For clarity sake I have freely translated or paraphrased the articles. My apologies if the meaning is lost in the translation, I have attempted to give the English speaking population an understanding of the subject matter.
September 6, 2020
The Kingdom Charter (Statuut van het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden) is said to be the highest law in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. We then have the Grondwet (Dutch constitution), the Staatsregelingen (State Regulations) of Aruba, Curacao and St. Maarten. But is the Kingdom Charter a Democratic document? No it is not. There exist within this document a serious democratic deficit. The charter’s preamble mentions among others the word equality, however when we look at some of the articles in this charter I conclude differently. Let us look at article 1. 2 which states that for the islands of Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba laws or regulations and other specific rules can be made for them because of their social condition, their great distance from the European part of the Netherlands, their insular character, small surface, population size, geographic situation, the climate and other factors which obviously differentiates these islands from the Dutch part of the Netherlands. In my opinion they left the door open to create different laws than those applied to the provinces in the Netherlands itself, such as the minimum wage and the pension laws just to name a few. The Bes islands don’t enjoy similar benefits as the persons living on the mainland. They could have easily said that similar laws that apply in the provinces on the mainland will be applicable or enforced on these islands as long as they do not affect them negatively. Another undemocratic article in the Charter is article 3 which mentions that regardless of what is stated in the Kingdom Charter, specific competences belong to the (Koninkrijk) Netherlands. I often hear the phrase, “but you signed it” and my response is yes, St. Maarten did, but so did Aruba, Curacao, Bonaire, St. Eustatius (St. Eustatius had no choice) and Saba. Article 3.2 states, other subjects can with general consultation (I guess they mean the other so called countries in the Kingdom) be declared competences of the Kingdom. Note by the Kingdom it is meant the Netherlands. Similarly, it says article 55 is hereby applicable. What does this article say? In article 55. 1 it says that amendment of the charter takes place by Kingdom Law. Article 4.1 reads; The Royal power of the Kingdom are matters or competences to be executed by the King as head of the Kingdom. Article 4.2 says the legislature in matters or competences of the Kingdom are executed by the legislature of the Kingdom. Who is being referred to here? The Netherlands. It continues proposals of Kingdom Law are handled taking into consideration articles 15 to 21. To give a synopsis as to the procedures for the proposal for the handling of Kingdom Law as mentioned in articles 15 to 21. The King sends the draft Kingdom Law simultaneously to the Second Chamber and the respective representative bodies of the countries (constitutional states) of Aruba, Curacao and St. Maarten. The process allows the Minister Plenipotentiary supported by a special delegation from the respective or affected country to make proposals for amendments to the draft before it is discussed in the Second Chamber. Now here comes the democratic deficit.
Article 21 After consultation with the Minister Plenipotentiary of Aruba, Curacao and St. Maarten in the event of war or in other extra ordinary circumstances in which matters have to be handled without delay, in the opinion of the King it is impossible to wait on the process mentioned in article 16 which states that the representative body where the regulation is applicable is authorized to research such prior to the handling of the draft in the public session of the Second Chamber and to provide a written report on such. But in article 21 states that it can be deviated from. My question is the following, does this apply to all Kingdom Laws or only in the case of war? Keep in mind that article 4.2 the last phrase states that the process to handle Kingdom Laws are done taking into consideration the articles 15 to 21. Article 36 has no explanatory notes, so of course the Dutch government decided to issue loans instead of a grant and to attach conditions. I will close with my own opinion on Article 26 of the charter which reads as follows; In the event the government of Aruba, Curacao and St. Maarten expresses the desire to enter into an international, economic or financial agreement which is exclusively for the relevant country the Kingdom government will cooperate which such an agreement, unless there is no solidarity or resistance in the Kingdom, in other words although it is mentioned in article 1.1 of the charter that the Netherlands, Aruba, Curacao and St. Maarten form part of the Kingdom (4 countries) the Netherlands can unilaterally against the wishes of the other 3 countries prevent such from happening. I would challenge this because it is not democracy. I can go into article 43.2 about the guarantee function but will suffice with this for now. I am open for correction from the competent legal minds.
Member of Parliament