Published On: Fri, Jun 1st, 2018

“After Irma we have more conflicts”

Mediation congress Minister Lee - 20180601 HH

PHILIPSBURG – “Every dollar that is spent on conflict is money that is not spent on solutions,” Minister Emil Lee (Public Health, Social Development and Labor said on Friday morning at the mediation congress, organized by his ministry together with the Dutch-St. Maarten Recovery Fund and VNG international at the Belair Community Center.

With around forty participants – many from different ministries and in the presence of director-General Reconstruction Windward Islands Hans Leijtens, Minister of Justice and Tourism and Economic Affairs Cornelius de Weever and Dutch Representative Chris Johnson – the congress had an attentive audience.

The congress-theme Circle of Trust reflects what is at the bottom of all conflict resolution. “It always comes back to trust and common objectives,” Minister Lee said. “The objective of this congress is: how can we resolve conflicts quicker and amicably, spend less money on fighting and use all these resources for the rebuilding of St. Maarten.”

“There is no doubt in my mind that after Irma we have more conflicts,” the minister said. “Why? Because our economy is badly damaged and we are resource-challenged.”

A rough calculation shows that building back better is an exercise worth around $2 billion. “We are thankful for the support from the Netherlands – around $580 million. Data from the Central Bank indicate that private insurance will cover between $319 and $431 million of the damages. That leaves us with a gap of $1 billion. If you are that short of the money for building back better, conflicts are unavoidable.”

As an example of conflict resolution, Minister Lee told a story about his kids who were fighting over the remote control for the TV. Rather than giving in to the demands of one of his two children, Lee took the remote away. “They quickly went into a huddle and came up with their own solution,” he said. “That created a win-win situation and made them also more independent. This is what we are after in this conference; not that one wins and one loses, but that both parties win.”

Mediation congress - Hans Leijtens - 20180601 HH

Photo caption: Participants at the mediation congress at the Belair Community Center. Front left is Hans Leijtens, Director-General Reconstruction Windward Islands. Photo Hilbert Haar.

Top Photo caption: Minister Lee is after quick and amicable solutions for disputes. Photo Hilbert Haar.