Published On: Fri, Apr 20th, 2018

Dispute regulation put on ice


THE HAGUE – The Dutch government has put the establishment of a dispute regulation on ice, John Samson reports on Caribisch Netwerk. It is the umpteenth disappointment for the autonomous countries St. Maarten, Aruba and Curacao.

State Secretary Raymond Knops says that he has other priorities, like the reconstruction of St. Maarten.

During the past couple of years the islands have experienced several conflicts with the kingdom government about Dutch interventions on the islands. In 2014 The Hague balked at the idea that Theo Heyliger, then leader of the United People’s party (UP) would become prime minister. Heyliger solved the dispute by opting to stay in parliament.

In the same year, Aruba’s Prime Minister Mike Eman went on hunger strike after the Kingdom Council of Ministers decided that his country was not allowed to approve its budget.

In 2015 St. Maarten got an instruction from The Hague. It included an order to settle payment arrears with Social and Health Insurance SZV and with general pension fund APS and to absorb deficits from previous budget within a couple of years.

After Hurricane Irma, the kingdom imposed conditions on St. Maarten as a requirement for receiving reconstruction funds worth €550 million. That included, to St. Maarten’s chagrin, an order to establish an Integrity Chamber and to accept strengthening of border control through the deployment of officers of the Royal Marechaussee and the Dutch Customs department.

In the summer of 2015, after a meeting of the Inter-parliamentary Kingdom Consultation (Ipko) there was optimism about the dispute regulation. Ipko-chairman Jeroen Recourt said at the time that he would be disappointed if the regulation was not there within a year.

Almost two years later, in April 2017, Recourt, this time as leader of the Dutch delegation at yet another Ipko-meeting, labeled the dispute regulation as “an absolute necessity.”

That statement followed after Recourt’s remark in the summer of 2016, that there would be a dispute regulation “shortly.”

Article 12a of the Kingdom Charter, signed in 1954, states: “Bij rijkswet worden voorzieningen getroffen voor de behandeling van bij rijkswet aangewezen geschillen tussen het Koninkrijk en de landen.”

(“Provisions are made by kingdom law for the handling of disputes between the kingdom and the countries that are defined by kingdom law.”)

In other words, the dispute regulation has been on the books for more than sixty years but so far, no kingdom government has ever shown willingness or a real interest in establishing it.

Adhering to this decades-old Dutch tradition, State Secretary Knops has now moved the establishment of the dispute regulation further into the future.

Photos and video taken from Caribisch Netwerk.