2nd CONFERENCE ON THE POLITICAL FUTURE
OF THE DUTCH-ADMINISTERED CARIBBEAN
RE-UNITING THE ANTILLES AND CARIBBEAN IN SOLIDARITY
Kralendijk, Bonaire, December 3, 2017
The Second Conference on the Political Future of the Dutch-Administered Caribbean,
Having met at Bonaire, West Indies on 2nd and 3rd December 2017,
Aware that the political status of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius (Statia) and Saba was transformed in 2010 from being a part of the autonomous country of the (former) Netherlands Antilles to a new political arrangement unilaterally advanced by the Kingdom of the Netherlands akin to that of 'partial integration', and characterized by serious political and economic inequality, rather than the promised political and economic equality originally envisaged.
Also aware that this new status is tantamount to unilateral annexation, and is wholly inconsistent with the minimum standards of full self-government and equality required on the basis of international principles of democratic governance,
Noting that in 2010, Curaçao and Sint Maarten joined Aruba as the second and third semi semi autonomous countries in the Kingdom without the full measure of self-government required under United Nations (U.N.) Resolution 1541 (XV), and subject to the applicability of Article 51 of the Kingdom Charter which provides for unilateral intervention in the affairs of the autonomous countries,
Also taking note of the “Assessment of self-governance sufficiency in conformity with internationally-recognised standards – Country Curacao” undertaken in 2012 by the global Dependency Studies Project which found that the present governance model in place in Curaçao emerging from the 2010 dismantlement process of the Netherlands Antilles further reduced the level of self-government to a diminished autonomous model, and is not in compliance with contemporary international standards of full self-government,
Conscious that in addition to the Dutch-administered partially-integrated dependencies, and the autonomous countries in the region, are other non-independent countries (NICCs) including the six British-administered non self-governing territories of Bermuda, Turks & Caicos Islands, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, British Virgin Islands and Anguilla; the U.S. administered dependencies of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; the integrated departments of Guadeloupe, Martinique and French Guiana, and the archipelago of San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina, and the French-administered collectivities of Saint Martin and Barts,
Bearing in mind that the 'public entity' status does not reflect the wishes of the people of Bonaire who had previously selected a political status of "direct ties to the Kingdom" of the Netherlands in a 2004 referendum rather than the political status of "public entity" which has been unilaterally and systematically imposed by the Kingdom since the 2010 dismantling of the Netherlands Antilles and the subsequent transition,
Also bearing in mind that the 'public entity' political status was formally rejected by the people of Bonaire in a 2015 referendum by a decisive 'No' vote of over 65 per cent, but the Kingdom decided to unilaterally imbed the public entities of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba in the country of the Constitution,
Recognizing that any subsequent referendum on the preferred political status that would be selected from a group of political status options of democratic governance and political equality should be conducted under the direct supervision of the U.N.,
Taking into account that the people of Sint Eustatius voted in its 2005 referendum to remain within a restructured autonomous country of the Netherlands Antilles, but as the 2005 referendum results resulted in the dismantlement of that autonomous country, the Island Council of Sint Eustatius subsequently approved a motion to accept the ‘direct ties’ arrangement offered to Bonaire and Saba, even as the people had not voted in favour of the status, and even as the nature of its political and economic inequality had not yet been revealed,
Also taking into account that the people of Sint Eustatius in a 2014 referendum, under official observation of the U.N. Electoral Affairs Division of the Department of Political Affairs, formally rejected the imposed 'public entity' status by voting for a more autonomous status from a list of political status options, and recalling that the results of the 2014 referendum were formally certified and endorsed by motion of the Island Council on 25th May 2015 as a clear mandate of the people resulting in the subsequent drafting in 2016 of a White Paper and a draft constitution for an autonomous Sint Eustatius,
Alarmed that the Kingdom of the Netherlands, in spite of the democratically expressed wishes of the people of Sint Eustatius and Bonaire in their rejection of the imposed political status of ‘public entity’ in 2014 and 2015, respectively, has proceeded through measures in the Kingdom Parliament to formally annex the two territories through a process of ‘imbedding’ the two islands (along with the island of Saba), in the Dutch Constitution and further alarmed that this unilateral process of the Kingdom could result in a legitimization of the dependency status contrary to international norms of democratic governance and in opposition to the expressed will of the people of Bonaire and Sint Eustatius,
Recognizing the resumption of direct, albeit strained, contact between the Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands with the democratically elected government of Sint Eustatius following the suspension of contacts in 2015, and again in 2016, and deeply concerned that the method of unilateral withdrawal of communication with the elected government of the territory continues to be an unacceptable practice,
Further expresses its deep concern for the imposition of unilateral financial supervision which requires Kingdom approval for public expenditures by the Government of Sint Eustatius despite compliance with the financial regulations of the Kingdom Committee of Financial Supervision (CFT),
Recalling the Motion adopted by the Island Council of Sint Eustatius on 28th May 2015 which confirmed, inter alia, that the population of Sint Eustatius had not yet exhausted all its options as far as exercising its right to self-determination in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, and which reminded the Netherlands of its continued obligations towards Sint Eustatius as part of the former Netherlands Antilles,
Taking note of the proposed 'Raizal Statute' submitted by the Raizal Authority of the archipelago of San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina to the Government of Columbia to modernize the political, socio-economic and constitutional relationship between the people of the archipelago and the State of Columbia, and affirming the self-determination aspirations of the Raizal people,
Outraged that after 120 years of United States (U.S.) colonialism, and 36 U.N. resolutions asking it to immediately return Puerto Rico’s sovereignty to the Puerto Ricans, distressed by the unilateral imposition of the colonial fiscal control board imposed upon the people of Puerto Rico by the U.S. Government, and concerned for the irresponsibility of the U.S. response to the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico caused by the impact of Hurricane Maria precipitating the migration of Puerto Ricans from their homeland resulting in a significant reduction in population and family displacement with the intention of changing the demographic composition of the population,
1. Affirms that the referendum results of 2014 in Sint Eustatius, and of 2015 in Bonaire, constituted a formal, genuine and legitimate refutation of the 'public entity' status as expressed by the people, and alarmed that the 'public entity' status imposed on the people of Sint Eustatius and Bonaire had been misrepresented as a genuine status of political equality by the Kingdom of the Netherlands in 2010 at the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles,
2. Deeply concerned that the people of Bonaire and Sint Eustatius are presently being governed, contrary to democratic norms, under a political status of political and economic inequality not of their choosing,
3. Reaffirms the continued applicability to Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba of relevant international law doctrine on self-determination and decolonization, including the provisions of Chapter XI on the "Declaration Regarding Non Self-Governing Territories,"
4. Also reaffirms the continued applicability of Article 73 (b) of the United Nations (U.N.) Charter which mandates that "Members of the United Nations which have or assume responsibilities for the administration of territories whose peoples have not yet attained a full measure of self-government recognize the principle that the interests of the inhabitants of these territories are paramount, and accept as a sacred trust the obligation to promote to the utmost, within the system of international peace and security established by the present Charter, the well-being of the inhabitants of these territories, and, to this end to develop self-government, to take due account of the political aspirations of the peoples, and to assist them in the progressive development of their free political institutions, according to the particular circumstances of each territory and its peoples and their varying stages of advancement,"
5. Emphasizes the continued applicability to Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba of the U.N. Decolonization Declaration [Resolution 1514 (XV)], its companion Resolution 1541 (XV), and all other relevant U.N. resolutions, as well as the present Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism and its plan of action,
6. Also emphasizes the applicability of relevant General Assembly resolutions which recognize that "the existence of colonialism in any form or manifestation," as "incompatible with the Charter of the United Nations, the (Decolonization) Declaration and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights' and further emphasizes the applicability of the relevant resolutions of the General Assembly which confirm that self-determination is a fundamental human right protected under the core human rights conventions including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), and the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), et al,
7. Takes note with interest that the U.N. General Assembly Resolution 945 (X) of 15 December 1955 removing the former Netherlands Antilles from the U.N. list of Non Self-Governing Territories did not affirm that the former Netherlands Antilles had achieved a full measure of self-government, thus leaving open the possibility for the U.N. to resume formal review of the self-governance sufficiency of the former territory and any of its former constituent parts, in particular Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba, as wel as Curaçao and the other semi autonomous countries within the Kingdom with the aim of fostering a genuine process of self-determination,
8. Calls on the Kingdom of the Netherlands, as a matter of urgency, to lift the financial supervision imposed on the Dutch administered Caribbean, and calls on the Kingdom to exercise respect in their communication and dealings with the territories and semi autonomous countries,
9. Condemns the Kingdom of the Netherlands for its actions in unilaterally imbedding the 'public entities’ of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba in the constitution of the Netherlands, and calls on the international community to review whether these actions are a violation of the inalienable right to self-determination of the people of the public entities,
10. Calls for the Kingdom of the Netherlands and/or other relevant U.N. member States to initiate the necessary procedures for the re-inscription of the former Netherlands Antilles islands of Bonaire and Sint Eustatius as well as Saba, Curaçao and the othe semi autonomous countries within the Kingdom on the United Nations list of Non Self-Governing Territories to provide the international community with the required platform to review, in depth where democratic deficiencies in the dependency governance arrangement may exist,
11. Endorses the commissioning of an independent Self Governance Assessment of the political status and constitutional arrangements of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba, through the use of the "Corbin Self-Governance Indicators," to determine the nature and scope of the public entity status according to international standards, and requests that the necessary resources be identified for the Assessment to be carried out as a key substantive document to inform the U.N. in its consideration of the re-inscription process of Bonaire and Saint Eustatius.
12. Encouraged by the ongoing negotiations between the Government of Colombia and the recognized representatives of the archipelago of San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina on a Raizal Statute intended to address the broad range of political, socio-economic and constitutional issues and concerns, and which is aimed at the modernization of the political status relationship between the Raizal people and the Colombian state; urges the Colombia Government to modify the State constitution in order to accommodate the Raizal Statute in recognition of the inalienable right of the people of the archipelago of San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina to self-determination in accordance with international law, in particular, the U.N. Charter and relevant human rights instruments.
13. Calls on the Kingdom of the Netherlands to adhere to the spirit of its Charter to provide for the autonomous functioning of Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten;
14. Calls on the Government of the United States to implement the U.N. Charter as related to the self-determination of peoples, and to implement the 36 resolutions of the U.N. Special Committee on Decolonization calling for the self-determination and independence of Puerto Rico,
15. Calls on Government of the United States to facilitate the self-determination of the people of the U.S. Virgin Islands consistent with the relevant resolutions of the U.N. General Assembly.