SIMPSON BAY–Representatives of the Parliaments of the Netherlands, Curaçao, Aruba and St. Maarten gathered at Simpson Bay Resort and Marina on Tuesday for four days of deliberations within the framework of the bi-annual Inter-Parliamentary Kingdom Consultations IPKO.
On Tuesday, the chairpersons of the four delegations set the tone for the upcoming meetings and discussions in their opening remarks. Chairperson of IPKO and Chair of the Parliament of St. Maarten Sarah Wescot-Williams said the democratic deficit in the Dutch Kingdom is “glaring” and a “meaningful” dispute regulation is necessary.
“These changes may be what the Dutch Kingdom needs for its renewal – and might I add a personal note – its survival. We rather than reinforce those loopholes in the Charter should seek out ways and alternatives to promote the equality principle of the Charter. This principle with all its caveats is the raison d’être of the Kingdom Charter,” said Wescot.
“We have used it to tell the world to stay out of our affairs as a Kingdom, we have used it to hold our fist when necessary, to hold our fist as a Kingdom when necessary. Let’s use that principle to ensure the longevity of the Charter, and by extension of the Kingdom.”
Wescot encouraged “all” to conceive a sustainable Kingdom by forging the political will to make it happen “even before we talk legalities and limitations and historically-grown interbeing, and let’s talk about how we can change to suit us today. … So, let’s return to the bold steps we have taken as IPKO and act just a little like a Kingdom Parliament.
“We as IPKO have dictated a collective resolve for a dispute regulation because such is one of those loopholes that has not been corrected yet and it undermines the very existence of the Kingdom. So, let us stick to our guns, because when we finish this job we have made the first step to a Kingdom Parliament despite the democratic deficit,” she said in setting the tone for “fruitful and result-oriented” discussions.
Wescot announced that St. Maarten delegation members Member of Parliament (MP) Claude Peterson could not attend Tuesday’s meeting due to illness, and that Vice-President of Parliament MP Theodore Heyliger was absent as he was off-island. She expressed the hope that both MPs could attend IPKO meetings later during the week.
IPKO takes place in a different country each time, on a rotating schedule, and this time St. Maarten is hosting the consultations up to and including Friday. Wescot said preparing for IPKO was no easy feat for St. Maarten 16 months after the island was struck by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
Jan Paternotte, who leads the 11-member delegation of the Dutch Parliament in the absence of Chairman of the First Chamber’s standing Kingdom Affairs Committee Ruard Ganzevoort, who could not attend the consultation due to illness, said he hoped for fruitful discussions.
Chairman of the Curaçao Parliament William Millerson said, “The importance and the strength of IPKO lies in the possibility as parliamentary partners to cooperate, to think together and to exchange knowledge and experience. With this we can reinforce the ties within the Kingdom.”
These ties have existed since 1634, and from 1954 the Kingdom Charter was introduced which prescribes how the common interests are to be guaranteed and in what way mutual assistance can be provided. In this regard, Millerson said it was “incomprehensible that we now, after so many years, still have a serious lack of respect, trust and solidarity for the partners in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom.”
He said a number of issues should be handled differently, such as the dispute regulation. He was also critical of the recent plan launched by the major of Leeuwarden, to discourage “chanceless Antilleans” from establishing themselves or remaining residents in the capital of the Dutch province Friesland.
Millerson said that to “maximise” the power of the Kingdom it is “extremely” important to recognise diversity and to realise that the various communities can contribute in their own way.
“As representatives of the people we must strive for an as-much-as-possible-comparable level of wellbeing for all citizens, all Dutch people in the Kingdom. It would be good if we would look through these ‘eyeglasses’ at the different themes, such as citizenship, migration et cetera, but also themes such as healthcare, education and liveability,” he said.
Juan Thijsen made the opening remarks on behalf of the delegation from Aruba, after which the four delegations presented topics related to recent developments in each participating country. Under this agenda point former head of the Tourist Bureau MP Rolando Brison gave a presentation about the reconstruction of St. Maarten after the 2017 hurricanes.
The IPKO also discussed the state of affairs pertaining to the sustainable development goals (SDGs). Three workgroups were formed to present major points of discussion for the next IPKO, which will be held June/July 2019.
Where the SDGs for “Planet and Prosperity” are concerned the major points of discussion will be climate, carbon-dioxide reduction and waste management. The SDGs for “People” will focus on poverty, the collection of data and gender equality.
The SDGs for “Integrity” will focus on tackling subversive activities, parliamentarians’ accepting of gifts and side-jobs, and how to deal with lobbyists.
The integrity of local governments was also deemed of great importance in connection with the safety and security of Dutch mayors, who have come under threat recently.
The state of affairs in Venezuela was also discussed, with the deliberations to be continued today, Wednesday, starting at 10:00am (see related article).
The current relations and bottlenecks in the Kingdom and proposals for improvement are also on the agenda. The parliamentarians will also be making a working visit to the landfill.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/84326-ipko-delegates-critical-of-downsides-of-the-kingdom