Wednesday , March 22 2023

Statia meets with UN, starts process for more autonomy

The St. Eustatius Government delegation that met with the United Nations (UN) Decolonisation Committee in New York this week has decided to proceed with the process to gather international support for the island to be placed back on the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories (NSGTs). Drafting a St. Eustatius Constitution is part of that process.

Also, a white paper on St. Eustatius’ present status as a Small Island Developing State (SIDS), including examples of the Dutch Government’s neglect of its responsibilities, will be prepared, as well as a draft UN resolution for re-inscription on the list of NSGTs.

The Statia delegation that met with the UN this week consisted of Commissioner of Constitutional Affairs Reginald Zaandam, Progressive Labour Party (PLP) party leader and Island Council Member Clyde van Putten, and United People’s Coalition (UPC) leader in the Island Council Reuben Merkman and advisor Xavier Blackman.

From left: Statia’s Commissioner of Constitutional Affairs Reginald Zaandam, PLP party leader and Island Council Member Clyde van Putten, and UPC leader in the Island Council Reuben Merkman in front of the United Nations building in New York earlier this week.
From left: Statia’s Commissioner of Constitutional Affairs Reginald Zaandam, PLP party leader and Island Council Member Clyde van Putten, and UPC leader in the Island Council Reuben Merkman in front of the United Nations building in New York earlier this week.

During the constructive exploratory consultations at the UN in the past days, the delegation discussed the process of having St. Eustatius placed back on the list of NSGTs with a number of Member States, stated a press release on Wednesday.

“St. Eustatius will continue to garner regional and hemispheric support for re-inscription. During the process, the Netherlands will also be included in the consultations. Now that the delegation has been able to personally present and extensively explain Statia’s case to UN Member States, the process of developing regional and hemispheric support can be expedited and formalised,” the delegation stated.

Furthermore, a framework for a St. Eustatius Constitution as a more autonomous entity in relation to the Netherlands will be drafted, it was announced. This Constitution will be prepared with the assistance of experts on de-colonisation and will be submitted to the Statia people for consultation purposes.

The delegation took its case regarding the constitutional change and de-colonisation process to the UN based on four positions, with the backing of an Island Council motion that was adopted on May 28, 2015.

The first position is that the Netherlands has not complied with resolutions 1514, 1541, and 2526 of the UN Charter since 1954 and during the dismantling process of the Country the Netherlands Antilles.

According to the delegation, this non-compliance also has been argued by legal scholars like Steven Hillebrink, Charlotte Duijf and Afred Soons in their publications, and is supported by a motion of Parlatino as well.

“Non-compliance with these resolutions means that the process of de-colonisation of the former colonies of the Netherlands has not been completed as yet, and that the colonies were unjustly removed from the list of NSGTs by the UN when the Charter of the Dutch Kingdom was ratified.”

The second position is that the Netherlands has not given proper content to the constitutional wishes of the Statia people, seeing that they have never voted for integration into the Netherlands. Hillebrink, Duijff and Soons have confirmed this position as well.

“The third position is that the Netherlands continues to abuse its position as (former) colonising power, violating basic human rights and unlawfully interfering with the local political process in St. Eustatius in a biased manner,” it was stated.

“A number of examples have already been clearly outlined by Commissioner Zaandam and include the boycott of St. Eustatius by the Dutch Government and the cutting of formal communication lines between appointed governing officials, imposing supervision without a proper motivation, and a subliminal public relations campaign emphasising presumably positive results of the Dutch policies and actions on the other two Caribbean Netherlands islands.

“Basically, the Dutch Government and their local allies are telling the Statia people that as long as its lawfully elected government dares to question the Dutch Government, look out for the best interest of its people and does not roll over and play dead, the island and its population will be punished by The Hague for not giving in to all its demands,” the delegation stated.

Fourth, St. Eustatius wishes to negotiate and achieve a change of its constitutional relationship with the Netherlands based on the different referenda that were held.

“This change can be accomplished by completely revising the outdated and impractical Kingdom Charter to accommodate the right to self-determination of all the Caribbean territories, and address issues like the democratic deficit and dispute resolution within the Kingdom. Solving these issues will benefit all that are involved, including the Netherlands.”

Based on these positions, St. Eustatius wishes to be (re)inscribed as a NSGT until such time that the de-colonisation process has been completed and/or all issues pointed out have been resolved in a satisfactory manner, the delegation made clear.

A recent example of successful re-inscription is the case of French Polynesia. This precedent has created the opportunity for St. Eustatius to seek support for its cause, starting with a meeting between Councilman van Putten and Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ralph Gonsalves earlier this year.

“Statia’s coalition government will continue to protect the best interests of the island and its population in the broadest sense of the word. To achieve sustainable social-economic development and a prosperous future for the entire population and not just a happy few, the constitutional challenges need to be addressed first and foremost.

“During its visit to New York, the delegation has laid the groundwork for doing so and as such the objective of the visit has been achieved.” The delegation thanked its advisers and everyone at home and abroad who support Statia’s “quest for justice and fairness, and the improvement of the well-being of its citizens.”

Source: The Daily Herald.

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  1. While in principle Statia can file grievances with the de-colonization committee, I feel that this is being exploited as a means to achieve Zandaam’s own ends rather than rather than something he feels is in Statia’s best interest at the moment. Nobody is asking and nobody is telling what independence or further independence will do for Statia. The elephant in the room here that the island hosts a large, multinational corporation (NuStar). Statia is a small island with only about 4,000 people, with no real economy to speak of beyond the NuStar terminal. NuStar brings in about 3.5 billion in revenue per year, and anyone that familiar with geopolitics is aware these two in combination are the perfect recipe for rampant corruption at the highest levels of politics. If Statia achieves independence, it will become the Republic of NuStar. They will be able to buy any favorable policies they want from politicians on the island, with sums of money so large that it would be difficult to refuse. In addition, NuStar has the perfect bargaining position in these deals, since if they pull out of the island, Statia’s economy will collapse. There is no conceivable way to avoid this situation beyond hoping that people will do the right thing, which unfortunately is hopelessly naive.
    Secondly, what is an independent Statia’s future beyond NuStar? How does the economy transition beyond a storage terminal for oil and gas?
    Either Zandaam did not to consider this, but more likely, he is fully aware of this situation and is taking full advantage of de-colonization committees as a means to line his own pockets with the lack of oversight and the bribe monies which will become available after independence.

  2. Dear Sabasynic, you could not have phrased it better. It is indeed our local politicians who are indoctrinated by Mr. Zaandam’s hatred and discriminating attitude towards the Netherlands. For years Mr. Zaandam has openly expressed his negative feelings towards the Dutch Government. His blaming of neo-colonialism of the Netherlands and therefore an improper treatment towards Statia compared to municipalities in European Netherlands, is a result related to his own historic frustration and is being used now to try to create more authority and dictatorship for himself to govern Statia the way he likes. With other words, he cares for his own benefits and leave Statia to blame when things will go wrong.
    Please people of Statia, open your eyes and let this con-artist not allow to decide for our future. After all Statia is built by Statians and should therefore be ruled and governed by Statians and not by vultures who feel that they can manipulate and indoctrinate for there own good.

  3. I have always advocated for a change in the way things are done in Statia.Sometime ago I wrote about the summountable challenges Statia faces with reference to global changing economies .This posotion by the Statia representatives at the UN is in essence the litmus test to the process in moving forward. Progressive leadership will determine the success or failure of the Public Unity under Dutch control. I hope the decision makers in the final situation is able to rise the occasion in bringing fruitful ends to the people.

  4. Cabacynic, you know your people and your history. Zaandam is out there with Clyde van Putten and Merkman just to have a good time and hope that the UN will support the request for more autonomy (read: more control and influence in the on going daily activities.)
    They all know that NUstar is the goldmine on Statia and they want to have the big share in this deal. With Holland as watchdog this is not possible. So Your move to get the UN involved might be smart, but we here at home at not stupid. When you come home, pack your bags and go where you came from and leave us in dignity ad pride of our island. We don’t like to be insulted by you, treated like second class islanders and most of all, we don’t want to see our tax money and that of many others being wasted on your holiday trips where you try to indoctrinate and manipulate UN officials like you do here on Statia.

  5. Zaandam, van Putten and Merkman, stop this circus and come back to Statia where we can deal with you.
    You travel on our expenses, spend like crazy and that all in the name of progress for Statia. BS. Progress for your self as you have been doing for the last donkey years. It is seriously time that you need to be fired and send home, yes HOME.
    Enough is enough. I demand an internal investigation towards the finances and relationships these individuals have based on the benefit of Statia. Get ready guys, cause here we come.

  6. What a disgrace from van Putten and Zaandam. But most of them i’m disappoited by Merkmann. If there is someone who could change things, this teacher can do it and write history. But probably i’m completly wrong and they only visited New York on expenses they don’t have. Go Yankees go