Political Analyst, Julio R, Romney
The Court of First Instance in Philipsburg is scheduled (on Tuesday, November 20, 2018) to hear open arguments from the dissolved insular Government of Sint Eustatius which was taken into receivership on February 7, 2018 by its Central Government – The Government of the Netherlands. The dissolved Government officials are of the opinion that the Government of the Netherlands infringed on Statia’s “right to a full measure of self-government” as established by the United Nations and further concluded that the action of the Netherlands is in violation of international law as indicated by the Vienna Convention on the law of Treaties and now seeks the Court of First Instance ruling to reverse the receivership action of the Government of the Netherlands.
To put this into perspective, with the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles, on October 10, 2010, Sint Eustatius became a Public Entity/Body of the constituent state of the Netherlands. In other words, integrated into the Netherlands as a municipality and as such properly governed under the Constitution of the Netherlands. With the Central Government of the Netherlands having the statutory authority to “exercise supervision” or to oversee the local administration of Sint Eustatius, as provided for under Article 132 of the Constitution of the Netherlands.
Based on media reports, out of concern in which the Government was being administered, the Government of the Netherlands established a committee to investigate the operation and functioning of the Government of Statia. The Committee reported back that the Government of Statia was in a state of “lawlessness and financial mismanagement, threats and insults and the pursuit of personal power”. To this end, the Government of the Netherlands, invoked Article 132 of the Constitution through an Act of Parliament (namely the Temporary Act on Neglect of Duty in Sint Eustatius) and thereby dissolved the local elected government and appointed a “Government Commission” to oversee the governing of the Island.
In defense or to support the claim that with the dissolution of the local elected Government of Sint Eustatius, Statia’s right to a full measure of self-government is infringed upon - the dissolved local elected Government of Sint Eustatius cited Article 73 of the United Nations Charter and insofar as the dissolution action of the Netherlands being in violation of international law Articles 26 and 27 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties is cited. In addition, there is also much talk about the use of Article 2 and 103 of the United Nations Charter to further solidify the case. An abundance of caution should be exercise here and the identified Articles should be closely examined with respect to the audience, intent, and jurisdiction of the articles.
First and foremost, it is highly questionable whether or not, more likely not, Article 2 of the United Nations Charter can be used to further solidify the case against the receivership action taken by the Netherlands. Clearly, Article 2 establishes the United Nations as membership base on the principle of sovereign equality. In other words, the content of the Charter speaks to an agreement for adherence between members with the notion that Members are equally sovereign. Respectfully, Sint Eustatius is not sovereign and as such not a member of the United Nations, but only a lower administrative body (municipality of the Netherlands) of a sovereign member of the United Nations - the Kingdom of the Netherlands. This is addressed in the 7th part of Article 2 which states that “nothing contained in the Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state or shall require the Members to submit such matter to settlement under the Charter”.
As for article 103, this Article addresses a conflict between Members, where their obligations under the Charter shall prevail. Again, Sint Eustatius is not a member of the United Nations and the conflict is of a domestic nature between the local government and its Central government, so there is nothing to prevail within the realm of the United Nations Charter.
With that said and in regard to the view that the dissolution of the local elected government, Statia is deprived of “a full measure of self-government” which is recognized in Article 73 of the United Nations Charter as paramount and encourages all its members to promote self-government in its administration of territories. Operationally, the basis of self-government warrants that administrative governed bodies to have self-rule and control of their internal affairs, free from external government control or outside political authority. Where self-rule does not extend to the right to unilaterally do as pleases within the Constellation, but expect to govern or follow the established rules and regulations of the Constellation.
Given the factors laid out in Article 73 to determine whether a full measure of self-government is being attained i.e., assurance the people social, political and educational advancement, just treatment and protection against abuse; take the political aspiration of the people and assist them in progressive development and; promote constructive measures of development none of these appeared to be violated. There is no question that there is hindrance with the receivership of the local government.
Second, without prejudice to Articles 26 and 27 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, they have no binding force on the lawfulness of the Government of the Netherlands dissolving the local elected Government of Sint Eustatius. Specifically the Temporary Act on Neglect of Duty in Sint Eustatius that was for the dissolution of the local elected Government of Sint Eustatius. In general, the Vienna Convention on Law of Treaties applies to agreements between states. While the Temporary Act on Neglect of Duty in Sint Eustatius is presumably an agreement between the Government of the Netherlands and the local elected Government of Sint Eustatius it is not a treaty. What is a treaty? A treaty is an agreement entered into by two or more states, mainly of sovereign powers. Again, these Articles do not apply to the circumstances of Sint Eustatius.
The governing principle to which the Statia peril/ crises points to a political discourse rather than a legal case. The crises are integrated into its (Statia’s) political statutory status as a Public Entity (of the Netherlands), the creation of conditions that the polity of Statia is not preparing to live under and appeared not to have understood from the inception. All parties must take care to determine the needs and welfare of the people of the Territory of Statia and place these before politics. The suggestive crises impasse here is through political dialogue in institutional-building and likewise comprehension.