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Editorial - Structural commitment

Two interesting articles about constitutional affairs appear in today's paper. One regards concerns expressed by the Council of State about tension within the Kingdom of the Netherlands last year.

The main complaint in this case is that differences are not settled in a definite manner but continue to live a life of their own, which is obviously not good for relations. Rules of the game must be taken into consideration and can be clarified through advices.

However, the varying interpretations regarding particularly the Royal Decrees with instructions for the Governors of Aruba and St. Maarten burden the governmental ties. The Council was not asked for advice prior to these decisions, as neither the Kingdom Charter nor the Governor's Regulations on which they were based require such, but nevertheless considers the developments worrisome.

The second story is about the proposal for a Kingdom Mediator and Secretariat in a discussion paper of the non-political Kingdom Relations Committee chaired by royal family member Pieter van Vollenhoven. The idea is to establish an independent mechanism to check compliance with minimum standards and agreements made in the kingdom, which also could solve disputes between the various partners.

The latter is considered necessary not in the last place because the Kingdom Council of Ministers is basically the entire Dutch cabinet with only one plenipotentiary minister each for the three Caribbean countries, while it has no governing programme or budget. The report states that cooperation requires a shared vision on joint objectives, strict mutual agreements, rules of play and supervision, but first and foremost clarity about what is expected from one another.

The Committee suggests the current situation has become untenable and mentions as its preferred option turning the kingdom into structural commitment. That will require working even more closely together, but based on unambiguous joint norms and values that can be enforced with effective means.

Like it or not, such reasoning makes all the sense in the world. When residents of the same home constantly quarrel, at some point they must either learn to get along or go their separate ways.

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