St. Maarten delegation leaves The Hague with ‘good feeling’ | THE DAILY HERALD

The St. Maarten Parliament delegation with Kingdom Council of State member Maria van der Suijs-Plantz. From left: Rolando Brison, Silveria Jacobs, Sarah Wescot-Williams, Van der Sluijs-Plantz, Claude Peterson and Tamara Leonard.

THE HAGUE–The St. Maarten Parliament delegation returns home this weekend with a good feeling after five days of meetings with the Dutch Parliament, the Kingdom Council of State and other stakeholders to lobby together with their colleagues from Curaçao and Aruba for a Dispute Regulation for the Kingdom that has the support of the three Dutch Caribbean countries.

St. Maarten delegation head Parliament Chairperson Sarah Wescot-Williams said in an interview that the majority of the parties and individual members of the Dutch Parliament had showed understanding for the position of the parliaments of Curaçao, Aruba and St. Maarten.

The Dutch Caribbean parliaments are not in agreement with the text and content of the Kingdom Law proposal to establish a Dispute Regulation for the Kingdom as submitted by the Dutch government and State Secretary of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops.

The current law proposal, which is now at the Second Chamber for handling in June this year, does not contain three elements of the joint position that the four parliaments, including the Dutch Parliament, drafted in 2015 as part of the Inter-Parliamentary Consultation of the Kingdom IPKO.

These points are: the body that will handle disputes needs to be an independent entity, the ruling must be binding, and the range should be limited to strictly legal disputes based on the interpretation of the Kingdom Charter.

The three Dutch Caribbean parliaments formed one front in their lobby efforts in The Hague, and this proved to be effective. Convincing the Second and the First Chambers that the law proposal currently on the table was not desirable was vital for the delegations, because the Dutch Caribbean parliaments cannot vote in the Dutch Parliament.

“I have a good feeling about the talks that we had,” said Wescot-Williams. “It is important that we reach a consensus on this matter, because you don’t want to start the new Dispute Regulation with a dispute. I don’t think that a majority of the Dutch Parliament will vote in favour of this law proposal, but we do understand the political dynamics in The Hague. We would like to reach a win-win situation for everyone. In this case I don’t agree with the saying: better something than nothing.”

Member of Parliament (MP) Silveria Jacobs (National Alliance) perceived the meetings as very positive. “Members of the Second Chamber seemed genuinely open to hear the real challenges and showed understanding for the standpoint of the Caribbean countries in the Kingdom.”

Jacobs said the members of the Second Chamber had asked questions about where compromises could be made and had given the impression that they were willing to maintain their integrity in living up to the agreements the four parliaments had made in 2015 and standing behind the adopted Van Laar motion.

“Some said that an agreement was an agreement and others expressed a willingness to work together to approve a Dispute Regulation that could serve all parts of the Kingdom,” she told The Daily Herald.
Asked about the success of the visit to The Hague, Jacobs said the meetings had offered the delegations a unique opportunity to explain and provide information that not all parties had. “I believe the lobbying meetings were necessary and awoke the interest of the Dutch MPs who will be deciding on this law proposal. An informed decision is the best decision.”

She said the islands would continue to communicate and update each other in the process leading up to the handling of the law proposal, which is slated for late June.

MP Rolando Brison (United St. Maarten Party) was positive as well. “The meetings went as well as we hoped, considering that the Dutch Parliament still needs to debate on this law proposal. The members we spoke with were very open. There is empathy for our position.”

Brison said that while in the Netherlands, he had used the opportunity to meet with St. Maarten students, several professors and a member of the European Parliament. The other four members of the St. Maarten delegation had similar meetings with St. Maarteners in the Netherlands and other organisations and persons.

“This week went very well,” said Claude Peterson (St. Maarten Christian Party). “Important for me was the opportunity for all three Dutch Caribbean countries to come together on an issue that affects us all. We stayed united. I am content that we could meet with the various political parties and members of the Dutch Parliament to outline our position. We were well-received. It also helped us to bond, which is a good thing, because I’m sure that there will be more issues that we will need to face together.”

Source: The Daily Herald