St. Eustatius barking up the wrong tree

The Dutch Caribbean Islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, St. Maarten, St. Eustatius and Saba) have a long history of (threats to) submitting complaints against The Netherlands to the United Nations (UN) regarding internal constitutional matters. The first one was filed in 1948 on behalf of all six islands claiming that The Netherlands was blocking constitutional changes. During the years we have seen delegations from Aruba, Saba and Curaçao knock on the UN doors to denounce ‘Dutch intransigence and disrespect to the constitutional relationship with its overseas territories’. So it should be no surprise that St. Eustatius -now that The Netherlands took over the governing of the island amid rule of law concerns- will also try its luck at the UN.

Ever wondered why the UN has never given any meaningful follow up to these ‘complaints’? As an ex UN Officer in Nicaragua I may shed some light. In 1997 we received a formal complaint from one of the two Nicaraguan autonomous regions, Región Autónoma de la Costa Caribe Sur (RACCS) vowing that its black and native populations were not being fairly treated by the ‘Españoles’ as they called the majority Nicaraguan Spanish speaking mestizos and whites. I was assigned to meet with the RACCS’ delegation. I got the following instructions from my bosses: lend a compassionate ear, state that the UN counterpart is the Central Government and not the autonomous administrations, and tell them that the UN doesn’t meddle in internal constitutional matters. After the meeting I wrote a report for headquarters and as far as UN-Nicaragua was concerned, that was the end of it.

St. Eustatius needs to understand that the Dutch take-over of the island’s government on 7 February 2018 is an internal and legal action. This island should be reminded that its representatives voluntarily accepted to become a special municipality of The Netherlands on 10 October 2010. I can understand however that the Statian leaders are not happy with the current situation, but they are barking up the wrong tree if they think going to the UN will solve their problems with The Hague. These leaders should clear up this constitutional structure row with The Netherlands. But as I’ve said before, collective well-being is not as dependent on the constitutional structure as it is on the quality of the people who manage the structure. The Statian leaders at this moment are better off addressing the issues of lawlessness, corruption and mismanagement that impoverish the very people they represent.

Willemstad, Curaçao

Author: alexdavidrosaria

Alex Rosaria is from Curaçao. He has a MBA from University of Iowa. He was Member of Parliament, Minister of Economic Affairs, State Secretary of Finance and United Nations Development Programme Officer in Africa and Central America. He is an independent consultant active in Asia and the Pacific.

7 thoughts on “St. Eustatius barking up the wrong tree”

  1. St.Eustatius Never Voluntarily Voted/Accepted to become a Special Municipality of The Netherlands. It was IMPOSED on St.Eustatius.


  2. Dear Alex,

    Having worked for the UN doesn’t make you a constitutional expert.

    Dr. Corbin is exactly that, so please take note of the following links (and regarding the competency/involvement of the General Assembly when it comes to the decolonization of the former Netherlands Antilles and the long winding road towards the “Statuut”, you might also want to read UN resolution 945 and Hillenbrink’s thesis):

    And finally, as an academic, you should refrain from parroting statements about lawlessness, corruption, and mismanagement without substantiating it with facts.

    Or maybe you are suggesting that the proven structural lawlessness, corruption, and mismanagement in Curacao and the Netherlands disqualifies them from having the degree of autonomy they currently enjoy.




    1. Typical and rather childish. Attack the writer and not the facts. But I did not expect any other answer. I guess my parents were right when they said that some people should never be overestimated.


      1. Dear Alex,

        It is unfortunate that you considered my reply to be a personal attack on you, when I merely challenged the content and validity of your statements (which are not substantiated by facts), and stated that you are not a constitutional expert (which is a fact).

        In doing so, I merely offered you the possibility to prove your generalizing allegations about “lawlessness, corruption and mismanagement that impoverish the very people they represent” (which I did not consider a personal attack on my person, by the way), and also provided documented and factual proof which contradicts the initial premise of your article(s) about the UN involvement and Statia’s (futile) approach towards having the Netherlands live up to it’s international obligations.

        My final statement was basically a (rethorical) question to demonstrate that your statement which seemed to imply that only countries that are free from structural lawlessness, corruption, and mismanagement are entitled to autonomy, is not a valid one.

        So feel free to respond to the links (facts) I provided in my post, and also please substantiate your allegations regarding the “Statian Leaders” with factual proof.

        Kind regards,

        Clyde van Putten


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