SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - In a press statement released on Wednesday evening, President of Parliament, Member of Parliament (MP) Grisha Heyliger-Marten provided an overview of the main topics discussed during the Inter-Parliamentary Kingdom Consultation (IPKO) held in the Hague from September 27th -30th, 2022.
In her closing statement at the IPKO, Heyliger-Marten said that the Sint Maarten appreciated the deliberations and looks forward to continuing the dialogue and coming to concrete actions on the topics discussed.
“All delegations came up with suggestions or solutions to the topics discussed. Now is the time to come to put these into concrete actions”, she said.
With regards to the unsolicited advice of the Council of State regarding the application of treaties within the entire Kingdom, MP Sarah Wescot-Williams suggested to create a specific department for Aruba, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten.
This is to ensure the involvement of these islands in the treaty process from the start, according to Heyliger-Marten. “The democratic deficit is clearly visible when it comes to treaties, and this needs to be addressed”, she said. When it comes to the process of consensus laws, the discussions centered around the moment when consensus has to be established, as well as the role of the Parliaments in this process, Heyliger-Marten said.
“This was a concern of all four countries, and we had honest and transparent discussions about this issue. We really need to find a way to give content to the true meaning of consensus. Perhaps we should consider regulating a clear process in which these Kingdom laws are handled”.
Heyliger-Marten also reflected on the presentation of the book “Ongemak” by prof. dr. G.J. Oostindie and dr. W.P. Veenendaal at the second day of the IPKO. “One of the things that stuck out to me was the fact that the authors, while acknowledging the democratic deficit and proposing ways to address it, also stated that amending the Kingdom Charter was difficult, and that changing it should not be a priority or disregarded altogether”, she said.
According to Heyliger-Marten, this statement seems to ignore the execution of the “de Graaf” and “van Raak” motions, which will both lead to amendments to the Kingdom Charter. “The democratic deficit cannot be adequately addressed without changing the Kingdom Charter”, she stated.
“The CCAD was established in 2020 for that reasons, and the Committee has already committed to making proposals to change the Kingdom Charter. The Dutch House of Representatives also sees the need for dialogue-based change, and has instructed its Government to organized a Kingdom Conference with the six Caribbean islands in 2023. So it is clear that change is inevitable, and it definitely will come sooner rather than later”, Heyliger-Marten stated.
With regards to the topic of colonialism and slavery history, Heyliger-Marten considers the deliberations during IPKO a good first step in the dialogue about an extremely divisive topic.
“The Sint Maarten delegation expressed the need to continue this dialogue more in-depth during the next IPKO and come to concrete agreements on a way forward”, she stated. Heyliger-Marten concluded by stating that the missions of the Sint Maarten delegation is and continues to be “making IPKO work for the people who we represent by coming up with more solutions and taking more action.”