Published On: Tue, Jan 19th, 2021

Pro Soualiga twists old study to fit its agenda

PHILIPSBUG — In an attempt to revive its decolonization claims the Pro Soualiga Foundation sent out a press release about the promotion of Steven Hillebrink at Leiden University on the thesis The Right to Self-Determination and Post-Colonial Government: The Case of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba without noting that the promotion took place almost fourteen years ago on February 28, 2007, and by slightly altering some statements from this study to fit its own agenda.

Hillebrink’s study is thorough and exhaustive (and accurate up to July 1, 2006) but it does not offer the definitive conclusions the Pro Soualiga Foundation is looking for.

The conclusion of the thesis even seems to close the door on any argument that the decolonization process for St. Maarten has not been completed yet: “Free association is a form of full self-government and decolonization that has been accepted by the UN as a legitimate outcome of the process of self-determination and decolonization, at least for small territories. In the view of the UN, an associated territory remains sovereign in the sense that it voluntarily delegates certain tasks to the metropolitan state, but retains the right to make another choice in the future.”

The Pro Soualiga email highlights ten statements from Hillebrink’s study to support its agenda. The first statement the foundation quotes reads: “The United Nations REFUSED to declare that the (former) Netherlands Antilles had attained a full measure of self-governance, a right to self-determination and that Chapter XI no longer applies.” It indicates that Hillebrink makes this statement on page 102 of his thesis. Problem: there is no such statement on that page.

In 1955, the following statement from the representatives of the Netherlands Antilles was made to the United Nations: “The Netherlands Antilles do not feel like a colony or a dependent territory anymore, they feel like a country, small but proud of its rights and its quality to anyone. The Netherlands Antilles are satisfied with this unique relationship and the Netherlands Antilles in this phase of their political development consider themselves self-governing.”

That statement is part of Hillebrink’s study but not of the Pro Soualiga Foundation’s email.

In the Committee on Information from Non-Self-Governing Territories of 1955, the Dutch delegation answered to questions from Guatemala that: “The freely elected Parliaments in Surinam and the Netherlands Antilles had unanimously accepted the Charter of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.” Again this is part of the thesis, but not mentioned by the foundation.

Another statement quoted by the foundation is that “The majority of the Fourth Committee considered the decolonization of the (former) Netherlands Antilles to be incomplete.”

It is certainly true that there were differences of opinion in the UN. Nevertheless, during the 557th plenary meeting of the general assembly on December 15, 1955, a draft resolution 945 (x) was adopted by 21 to 10 votes with 33 abstentions. This resolution released the Netherlands from its obligation under article 73e without declaring that the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba had become fully self-governing.

While the UN could one day decide to revisit that resolution with the objective to reach a different conclusion, Hillebrink notes that before the General assembly takes such a step “it will have to be clear that a substantial part of the local population actively opposes the status quo and a number of UN members will have to have a good reason for attacking the Netherlands.”

In other words: under the current conditions that is not going to happen, as Hillebrink correctly notes that “the most important question would undoubtedly be whether the population is happy with the current political status of their islands, and whether they have the possibility of exercising a form of continuing self-determination.”

On page 224 of his thesis Hillebrink discusses an amendment tabled by Uruguay that reaffirmed ‘the competence of the GA to decide whether a Non-Self-Governing Territory has attained the full measure of self-government.

The foundation states in its email about this amendment that “The majority of the Fourth Committee considered the decolonization of the (former) Netherlands Antilles to be incomplete.” But Hillebrink does not state that. Instead, he noted that the amendment could be interpreted as evidence that the majority of the Fourth Committee considered the decolonization of the Netherlands Antilles and Surinam as incomplete.

In the same breath Pro Soualiga claims that the UN remains authorized to discuss the incomplete decolonization of the (former) Netherlands Antilles. However, Hillebrink carefully observed that the amendment could be interpreted as evidence that the UN remains authorized to discuss the situation.

The last argument Pro Soualiga distills from Hillebrink’s study is that “The population of the Netherlands Antilles were not aware of the decisions being made regarding the Kingdom Charter because the records of the deliberations were, and still are, not widely known among the ‘Antillian’ population.”

Whether that observation carries any weight is questionable, given the fact that the Kingdom charter was accepted by the freely elected governments of all parties.


Related articles:
Pro Soualiga: Leiden University awarding a Law Doctorate regarding the decolonization of the Netherland Antilles
Reply from Pro Soualiga Foundation regarding review article StMaartenNews.com

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