Published On: Mon, Dec 3rd, 2018

Kingdom government keeps last say

KnopsTHE HAGUE - The Kingdom Council of Ministers will maintain the final word where it comes to decisions affecting the Dutch Caribbean with which the countries do not agree. The new law proposal for a Dispute Regulation of the Kingdom will not change that, because deviating from the decision of the independent judging entity will be possible.

Two other particular aspects of the Kingdom Law proposal for a Dispute Regulation that Dutch Undersecretary of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops sent to the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament on Friday were: the Kingdom Council of State will become the authority to render advice on disputes within the Kingdom under the Dispute Regulation, and the advice of the Council of State will not be binding.

The latest law proposal, which was also sent to the Parliaments of Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten, is different from the previous one, drafted by former Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk in 2017. The Dutch Caribbean countries had objected to the previous law proposal for several reasons.

One reason was that that law proposal covered a broad range of conflicts that resorted under the Dispute Regulation, including conflicts of an administrative and political nature. The Dutch Caribbean countries wanted the range of the Dispute Regulation narrowed down to conflicts of a strictly legal nature, so in this sense the new law proposal meets the wishes of the Dutch Caribbean countries.

However, Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten will not get their way in in two other areas of the new law proposal. The countries initially requested that the Supreme Court or another High College of State handle conflicts under the Dispute Regulation. The Dutch government held on to its wish to have the Advisory Department of the Council of State of the Kingdom carry out this task.

Also, the advice that the Kingdom Council of State renders under the Dispute Regulation will not be binding. The Dutch Caribbean countries had asked for this decision to be binding, not allowing the Kingdom Government to deviate from this decision. However, in the latest law proposal, the Kingdom Council of Ministers may deviate from the advice, but only when it has “weighty reasons” to do so.

According to Knops, there was a reason for leaving out the binding advice factor in the new law proposal. “It remains so, that solving conflicts between the Kingdom and one or more of the countries in last instance is a matter of the Kingdom Council of Ministers,” it was stated in the Explanatory Note that accompanied the law proposal.

Knops did agree with the Council of State to include an evaluation condition in the new law proposal. In its advice, which was released on Friday, the Council of State pointed out that a Dispute Regulation would only be effective if the body that handles disputes under the Dispute Regulation and the governments respect each other’s position.

The Council of State agreed that it was important to establish a Dispute Regulation for the Kingdom in the short term. Since 2010, the Council of State has repeatedly pointed out the importance of having a Dispute Regulation so the countries could take their disputes to an independent entity.

The Council of State pointed out that for the Dispute Regulation to work, it was important that the involved parties had reached agreement as much as possible about the content and interpretation of said regulation. If that is not the case, the risk remains that parties that do not support the Dispute Regulation will not respect the decision of the entity that acts as the dispute-solving entity.

The governments of Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten voted against the new law proposal during the Kingdom Council of Ministers meeting on Friday, November 23. The governments sought a deferral to enable the four parliaments of the Kingdom to first look at the law proposal and to create support during the Inter-Parliamentary Consultation of the Kingdom IPKO which takes place in St. Maarten early January 2019.

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