SINT MAARTEN (COMMENTARY – By Julio R. Romney) - With the Parliament of Sint Maarten deliberating the apparent need to “end the violations of St. Maarten’s UN-mandated right to a full measure of self-government completing the decolonization of St. Maarten and other islands of the former Netherlands Antilles”, it is submitted that based upon United Nations General Association Resolution 945 (X), in 1955, the Netherlands Antilles/ Sint Maarten is not ‘non-self-governing’ (under Chapter XI of the UN Charter) and is therefore considered decolonized. However, as will be discussed later, this does not mean or imply that the Kingdom of the Netherlands, de facto the Netherlands, hasn’t been suppressing Sint Maarten and the other Islands of the former Netherlands Antilles.
As affirmed in UN declarations and related body of literature the term “decolonization is proper defined as “the process of rendering political independence to a territory that is a colony by its colonizer”. Simply, the transitioning from a colony to a non-colony status involves the dismantling of governing structures that preserve the colonial status quo for an indigenous structure. To this end, the UN General Assembly has concluded that the process of decolonization can be realized through independence, by association or integration within an existing State. (UN Resolution 742(VII))
In this context, “noting that the Netherlands and the Netherlands Antilles” (Colonies of the Netherlands), by virtue of their rights of self-determination as expressed in Article 1 of the covenant adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations, freely in association expressed their will to establish a new constitutional order in the Kingdom of the Netherlands in which they will conduct their internal interest autonomously and their common interest on a basis of equality and will accord each other assistance and resolved in consultation to adopt the Charter of the Kingdom of the Netherlands”. As such, it can only be concluded that the Netherlands Antilles/ Sint Maarten has in effect completed the process of decolonization and self-determination.
Moreover, the decolonization process and self-determination were further solidified, with the referendum of 2000, in which the people of Sint Maarten again freely expressed their right of self-determination by overwhelmingly voting (70%) to “become a country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands (in essence, a constituent state of the Kingdom of the Netherlands) over the other options of “remaining part of the Netherlands Antilles”, “become a part of the Netherlands”, or “independence” as sought after by their elected representatives. This is in accordance with the UN Declaration (A/RES/567) relating to a territory expressing a full measure of self-governance through associating with and existing State (in Sint Maarten case becoming a county/ constituent state of the Kingdom of the Netherlands) and the principles of self-determination that this decision should be made by the people themselves or their legitimate representative.
With regard to the talking point that “there is no UN Resolution indicating that the Netherlands Antilles/ Sint Maarten has attained a full measure of self-government, therefore the decolonization process has not been completed”. Reference is to be made to the 557th UN General Assembly plenary meeting, December 15, 1955, in which the Netherlands was invited to present its case as to the development of self-government in the Netherlands Antilles and Suriname. Without prejudice the information/ evidence was accepted by the General Assembly and the Netherlands Antilles and Suriname were rendered excluded from Non-Self-Governing territories – ending of the transmission of information under Article 73 e of the (UN) Charter in respect of the Netherlands Antilles and Suriname as appropriate”/ territories of self-government. (Resolution 945 (X)). In effect not a non-self-governing territory.
As it pertains to 73a, b, c, and d of Chapter XI, the Declaration regarding Non-Self-Governing Territories being excluded in the cessation Resolution 945 (X), these are likely measures that based on the UN Charter shall be ensured when in “association” with an independent State. Unlike when “independence” is gained outright, the territory possesses full obligation to promote its own well-being.
Regarding the notion that “with the removal of Articles 44, 50, and 51 from the charter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands, “vola” the decolonization process will be completed”, this too is incorrect. To the contrary this would impede the Kingdom of the Netherlands from adhering to the International Trusteeship System of the United Nations (Chapter XII) – the administration and supervision of such territories as may be placed thereunder by subsequent individual agreements.
Equally, we must be mindful that the “association” in which we are in is that of a Monarchy, where the center of authority or supreme power and authority is vested in a heredity head/ the King, de facto the constituent state of the Netherlands and it would be inconceivable that an “associated state” can change this. This is alluded to in a court proceeding of the International Court of Justice that “in association with an existing state does not end the applicability of the right of self-determination to that people nor does it terminate the corresponding legal obligation of the State in which the territory . . . has become associated to respect and promote the right of self-determination of that people in the new, post-colonial situation. In other words, by becoming a “country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands did not disavow the Netherlands and or the Kingdom of the Netherlands of their right to self-determination.
In conclusion, in no way are we advocating that the Netherlands is totally within its right and is not suppressing the constituent state of Sint Maarten. However, the avenue for change is certainly not with the United Nations, but within the confinement of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and proper deliberations with the (constituent state of the) Netherlands. Sint Maarten Institute of Public Policy Studies would welcome the opportunity to lend its Development Administration (defining, consolidating and implementing national goals in developing countries/ territories) expertise in addressing this “decolonization” anomaly/ dilemma.
Julio R. Romney B.A, M.P.A., A.B.D
Sint Maarten Institute for Public Policy Studies