01 October 2015

Statia meets with UN, starts process for more autonomy

The Daily Herald
NEW YORK/ORANJESTAD--The St. Eustatius Government delegation that met with the United Nations (UN) Decolonisation Committee in New York this week has decided to proceed with the process to gather international support for the island to be placed back on the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories (NSGTs). Drafting a St. Eustatius Constitution is part of that process.

Also, a white paper on St. Eustatius’ present status as a Small Island Developing State (SIDS), including examples of the Dutch Government’s neglect of its responsibilities, will be prepared, as well as a draft UN resolution for re-inscription on the list of NSGTs.

The Statia delegation that met with the UN this week consisted of Commissioner of Constitutional Affairs Reginald Zaandam, Progressive Labour Party (PLP) party leader and Island Council Member Clyde van Putten, and United People’s Coalition (UPC) leader in the Island Council Reuben Merkman and advisor Xavier Blackman. 

During the constructive exploratory consultations at the UN in the past days, the delegation discussed the process of having St. Eustatius placed back on the list of NSGTs with a number of Member States, stated a press release on Wednesday.

“St. Eustatius will continue to garner regional and hemispheric support for re-inscription. During the process, the Netherlands will also be included in the consultations. Now that the delegation has been able to personally present and extensively explain Statia’s case to UN Member States, the process of developing regional and hemispheric support can be expedited and formalised,” the delegation stated.

Furthermore, a framework for a St. Eustatius Constitution as a more autonomous entity in relation to the Netherlands will be drafted, it was announced. This Constitution will be prepared with the assistance of experts on decolonisation and will be submitted to the Statia people for consultation purposes.

The delegation took its case regarding the constitutional change and decolonisation process to the UN based on four positions, with the backing of an Island Council motion that was adopted on May 28, 2015.

The first position is that the Netherlands has not complied with resolutions 1514, 1541, and 2526 of the UN Charter since 1954 and during the dismantling process of the Country the Netherlands Antilles.

According to the delegation, this non-compliance also has been argued by legal scholars like Steven Hillebrink, Charlotte Duijf and Afred Soons in their publications, and is supported by a motion of Parlatino as well.

“Non-compliance with these resolutions means that the process of decolonisation of the former colonies of the Netherlands has not been completed as yet, and that the colonies were unjustly removed from the list of NSGTs by the UN when the Charter of the Dutch Kingdom was ratified.”

The second position is that the Netherlands has not given proper content to the constitutional wishes of the Statia people, seeing that they have never voted for integration into the Netherlands. Hillebrink, Duijff and Soons have confirmed this position as well.

“The third position is that the Netherlands continues to abuse its position as (former) colonising power, violating basic human rights and unlawfully interfering with the local political process in St. Eustatius in a biased manner,” it was stated.

“A number of examples have already been clearly outlined by Commissioner Zaandam and include the boycott of St. Eustatius by the Dutch Government and the cutting of formal communication lines between appointed governing officials, imposing supervision without a proper motivation, and a subliminal public relations campaign emphasising presumably positive results of the Dutch policies and actions on the other two Caribbean Netherlands islands.

“Basically, the Dutch Government and their local allies are telling the Statia people that as long as its lawfully elected government dares to question the Dutch Government, look out for the best interest of its people and does not roll over and play dead, the island and its population will be punished by The Hague for not giving in to all its demands,” the delegation stated.

Fourth, St. Eustatius wishes to negotiate and achieve a change of its constitutional relationship with the Netherlands based on the different referenda that were held.

“This change can be accomplished by completely revising the outdated and impractical Kingdom Charter to accommodate the right to self-determination of all the Caribbean territories, and address issues like the democratic deficit and dispute resolution within the Kingdom. Solving these issues will benefit all that are involved, including the Netherlands.”

Based on these positions, St. Eustatius wishes to be (re)inscribed as a NSGT until such time that the decolonisation process has been completed and/or all issues pointed out have been resolved in a satisfactory manner, the delegation made clear.

A recent example of successful re-inscription is the case of French Polynesia. This precedent has created the opportunity for St. Eustatius to seek support for its cause, starting with a meeting between Councilman van Putten and Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ralph Gonsalves earlier this year.

“Statia’s coalition government will continue to protect the best interests of the island and its population in the broadest sense of the word. To achieve sustainable social-economic development and a prosperous future for the entire population and not just a happy few, the constitutional challenges need to be addressed first and foremost.

“During its visit to New York, the delegation has laid the groundwork for doing so and as such the objective of the visit has been achieved.” The delegation thanked its advisers and everyone at home and abroad who support Statia’s “quest for justice and fairness, and the improvement of the well-being of its citizens.”