THE POLITICAL FUTURE, THE RIGHT TO SELF-DETERMINATION AND
REPARATIONS IN THE CARIBBEAN
Kralendijk, Bonaire, December 7, 2019
The Fourth Symposium on the Political Future, the Right to Self-Determination and Reparations in the Caribbean,
Having met at Bonaire, West Indies on 5 th through 7th December 2019,
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,
Alarmed that the Kingdom of the Netherlands took the unilateral decision on 7 February 2018 to dismiss the democratically-elected government of Statia, and to authorize the Kingdom to dissolve the Island Council, remove the island commissioners, and to institute direct rule via an administrator who governs by decree,
Concerned that the Kingdom of the Netherlands imposed a Governing Accord on Bonaire which requires the imposition of a programme manager which exercises power above the elected government.
Noting that in 2010, Curaçao and Sint Maarten joined Aruba as the second and third semiautonomous 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,
Concerned that the Kingdom is placing undue constraints on the autonomy of Aruba inconsistent with the provisions of the United Nations Charter requiring the full measure of self-government,
Also taking note of the “Assessment of self-governance sufficiency in conformity with internationally-recognized 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 the full measure self-government.
Further taking note, that the Dutch government through strategic political organs named the Committee for Financial Supervision (CFT), the Special Police Task Force (RST) and the General Prosecutor through consensus laws is overruling the democratic parliament of Curacao and in so doing controlling the political, social, cultural and economic development of Curacao; and the further reduction of autonomy through the imposition of an “instruction” by the Kingdom 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 Guiana(French Colony), and the Archipelago of San Andres, Old Providence and Santa Catalina, and the French-administered collectivities of Saint Martin and Saint 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» in the 2004 referendum held in Bonaire rather than the political status of «public entity» which has been unilaterally and systematically imposed by the Government of the Netherlands, since the 2010 dismantling of the Netherlands Antilles and the subsequent transition, without these having been defined in the context of Chapter XI, Article. 73 and 74 of the U.N. Charter.
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 and the results were formally certified and endorsed by motion of the Island Council on 8th March 2016 as a clear mandate of the people, but the Government of the Netherlands decided to unilaterally embed the “public entities of Bonaire”, Sint Eustatius and Saba in the Constitution of the Netherlands,
Recognizing that any subsequent referendum on the preferred political status that would be selected from a group of political 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 outcome 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 favor 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 Government 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 ‘embedding’ the two islands (along with the island of Saba), in the Dutch Constitution and further alarmed that this unilateral process of the Government of the Netherlands 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 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 Netherlands’ government approval for public expenditures by the Government of Sint Eustatius despite its compliance with the financial regulations of the Netherlands Committee for Financial Supervision (CFT).
Alarmed by the political decapitation of the legitimately elected government of Sint Eustatius by the Government of the Netherlands on February 7th 2018, and the appointment by the Netherlands’ government of an undemocratic administrating governor constituting further erosion of the democratic rights and processes to elect a next democratic government.
Aware that the legitimately elected government of Sint Eustatius filed a petition at the Court of First Instance to initiate main proceedings against the Government of the Netherlands,
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 the Article 1, of both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights respectively and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural rights which reminded the Netherlands of its continued obligations towards Sint Eustatius as part of the former Netherlands Antilles,
Also recalling the resolutions of the Permanent Conference of Political Parties of Latin America and Caribbean (COPPPAL), issued on December 1, 2016 on Bonaire and June 6, 2017 on Sint Maarten, respectively, rejecting any form of colonization in the Americas, with regards to the future political status of Puerto Rico and the future political status of the Caribbean territories administered by Holland,
Takes note of the interest expressed by the incoming government of the U.S. Virgin Islands to examine the political status evolution of the territory, and encourages the territory, in the context of it’s listing by the United Nations (U.N.) since 1946 as a non-self-governing territory, to re-engage with the U.N. decolonization process by resuming its participation in the proceedings of the Special Committee on Decolonization, and the Special Political and Decolonization Committee (Fourth Committee).
Taking note that the proposed ‘Raizal Statute’ submitted to the government of Colombia by the Raizal Authority of the archipelago of San Andres, Old Providence and Santa Catalina with the aim of modernizing the political, socio-economic and constitutional relationship between the Raizal people of the archipelago and the State of Colombia, was withdrawn from the Colombian Congress, and affirming the self-determination aspirations of the Raizal people.
Outraged that after 121 years of United States (U.S.) colonialism, and 38 U.N. resolutions asking it to immediately return Puerto Rico’s sovereignty to the Puerto Ricans and distressed by the unilateral imposition of the colonial fiscal control board imposed upon the people of Puerto Rico by the U.S. Government,
Appalled by the insulting U.S. response to the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico caused by the impact of Hurricane Maria in 2017 precipitating an already alarming migration of Puerto Ricans from their homeland, and increasing their already superior recruitment rate into the US military, resulting in an alarming reduction in population and family displacement with the premeditated intention of changing the demographic composition of the territory,
Recalls that Puerto Rico has been a United States (U.S.) colony since 1899 with the people forced into a second-class citizenship without full political or economic rights in the U.S. system further recalls that more Puerto Ricans are living away from their national territory because of limited opportunities for them in their homeland, and also recalling that the U.S. military recruits more Puerto Rico for military service than in any of the 50 states of the U.S.
Noting that the public sector debt was estimated at exceeding $US.72 billion, and that the U.S. government installed a oversight board to control the financial management of the government to ensure that the bondholders receive payment,
Concerned that the austerity measures put in place to accommodate the debt repayment has resulted in the reduction of essential services, the closing of schools and decline in public health care,
Taking note of the colonial situation of Guiana (French Colony), 8,000 kms. from Europe, which is being used by French authorities for geo-strategic purposes including the European Space Centre which is used for the launching of military and commercial satellites while providing no revenue to the territory,
Alarmed that some 90 per cent of the land of Guiana (French colony) is owned and controlled by the French state resulting in the severely limited amount of land available to the people for economic, agriculture, housing and development; and further alarmed that the cultural and national identity of the people continues to be denied by the French state, including the rights of the indigenous peoples,
Concerned that the political status of the territory does not allow for the promulgation of local laws by the elected leaders, and the territory is governed by laws directly applied by the French State without the right of amendment,
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 Government 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, as stated by the government of the Netherlands in the Dutch Parliament on December 22, 1955, with the statement… “’ The emancipation process has been completed” 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 and Sint Eustatius, as well 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 Government of the Netherlands, as a matter of urgency, to lift the financial supervision imposed on the Dutch administered Caribbean, and further calls on the Government of the Netherlands to exercise respect in their communication and dealings with the territories and semi-autonomous countries,
9. Condemns the Government of the Netherlands for its actions in unilaterally embedding the so-called ‘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 so-called “public entities”,
10. Calls for the Government 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, and Curaçao, and the other 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 arrangements may exist,
11. Calls on the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to consider that the Caribbean is not in a post-colonial condition, and to give due recognition to the issue of the self-determination of the remaining non-independent Caribbean countries in the region as unfinished business; and requests that self-determination and decolonization be placed on the permanent agenda of the CARICOM Heads of Government,
12. Endorses the commissioning of an independent Self Governance Assessment of the political status and constitutional arrangements of Bonaire and Sint Eustatius, 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.
13. Further endorses and supports fully the trajectory of Bonaire and Sint Eustatius for re-inscription on the list of Non-Self-Governing-Territories of the United Nations,
14. Aware that the proposed Raizal Statute which was negotiated between the Government of Colombia and the recognized representatives of the Archipelago of San Andres, Old Providence and Santa Catalina, has been submitted to the previous Colombian Congress in 2018, and the new Congress which convened after the congressional election of 2018, had been withdrawn by mutual agreement by the Raizal authority and State-minister of Interior.
15. Concerned that the State has not yet recognized the rights of the people to their ancestral territory, and their right to self-determination as recommended by the Raizal representatives in the originally proposed statute.
16. Once again, urges the Colombian State to modify its constitution in order to recognize the inalienable right of the Raizal people of the Archipelago to self-determination in accordance with international law, in particular, the U.N. Charter, U.N. Resolution 1541, U.N. Resolution 742, and relevant human rights instruments. 16a. Petitions the Colombian Government to make the necessary steps to include the Archipelageo in the United Nations List of Non Self-Governing Territories (NSGTs),
17. Calls on the Government of the Netherlands to adhere to the spirit of its Charter to provide for the autonomous functioning of Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten, Sint Eustatius and Bonaire,
18. The political movements, Movemento Kousa Promé and Pueblo Soberano call on the government of the Netherlands to end the consensus laws of Curacao and to respect the vision and spirit of the U.N. Charter in the same way as it respects the Treaty of Lissabon regarding the European Union and to implement the U.N. Charter on the self-determination of our people.
19. Calls on the Government of the U.S. to implement the U.N. Charter as related to the self-determination of peoples, and to implement the 38 resolutions of the U.N. Special Committee on Decolonization calling for the self-determination and independence of Puerto Rico,
20. Takes note of the agreement between the Territorial Collectivity, the social forces, and the French State for a referendum under Projet Guyane, calls for the participation of international observers to ensure a free and fair referendum process, and Supports the struggle of the Front Guyanais pour un Changement Statutaire (Guianese Front for a Statutory Change),
21. Also supports the struggle of the people of Guiana (French colony) to complete social and political emancipation, and in this connection, calls for the re-inscription of Guyane (French colony) on the United Nations list of non-self-governing territories.
22. Calls on the Government of the U.S. 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.
23. As a matter of urgency calls on the United Nations General Assembly to adopt a new international decade with intention to implement the “Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples”