A St. Eustatius delegation visited the United Nations (UN) Decolonisation Committee in New York to make a case against the way the Netherlands is treating its overseas special public entity (see related story). One of the main arguments is that the island was removed unjustly from the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories (NSGTs) or colonies and wants to be reinstated as such, which was done recently for French Polynesia.
A “white paper” on Statia’s present status as a Small Island Developing State (SIDS) will now be prepared that includes examples of the Dutch Government neglecting its responsibilities, along with a draft constitution for a more autonomous relation with the Netherlands.
Interestingly, this move comes after the Parliament of Curaçao decided to file a complaint with the UN because the Dutch Government has not yet agreed to establish a kingdom dispute regulation. However, such steps are a waste of time, according to leader of coalition party PAIS Alex Rosaria, one of the few legislators in Willemstad who did not vote in favour of the proposal.
Although convinced that an independent body to settle differences of opinion and interpretation between the various partners is highly necessary, Rosaria believes it is better to resolve matters within the kingdom. In addition, history shows that threats to go international usually don’t help.
He referred to 1948, when the Netherlands, Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles held the first Round Table Conference (RTC) in The Hague. Curaçao’s delegation was led by Moises Frumencio “Doktoor” da Costa Gomez, but the two members Jonckheer and Van der Meer left in protest. They subsequently reported the Dutch Government to the UN and to “Union Pan-Americano,” which later became the Organisation of American States (OAS).
The only result was neighbouring Venezuela making a claim on the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao) just off its coast. In the end, a basis for more self-governance was laid during the RTC of 1948, by replacing the Colonial Council with a General College, while the charter granting Antillean autonomy followed in 1954.
All that is not meant to say Statia’s leaders are doing the wrong thing, but one has to wonder what this latest initiative ultimately will produce. Without calling for full political independence and going back to the voters for support, realistically speaking it does not appear The Hague can easily be forced to comply with their wishes.