THE HAGUE--Caribbean participants of the Inter-Parliamentary Consultation of the Kingdom (IPKO) appeared to be hopeful about the future. Several days of discussions with members of the Dutch Parliament were concluded on Friday with a positive note, even about sensitive topics such as integrity and the dispute regulation law.
At the closing press conference, delegation members of St. Maarten, Curaçao, Aruba and the Netherlands repeated that face-to-face meetings and the exchange of ideas are the true value of the IPKO, especially since there were many new participants for Curaçao and the Netherlands. In addition, the IPKO resulted in some concrete agreements and statements.
In her comments to the press, Sarah Wescot-Williams, chairwoman of the St. Maarten Parliament, mentioned integrity. “During this IPKO we agreed on issues that have priority. Ship jumping, codes of conduct, screening and the financing of political parties. We should all share experiences in this area,” she said.
Wescot-Williams especially appeared happy with the statement that integrity is an autonomous affair, a comment that will likely return in the ongoing dispute with the Dutch government about the Integrity Chamber. While she did not mention that conflict directly, she added that the final words have not been said about the guarantee function of the Kingdom, which is the legal basis for instructions by the Kingdom Council of Ministers.
Paul van Meenen, acting chairman for the Commission of Kingdom Affairs of the Second Chamber, agreed that integrity is a local affair. “If we clearly state that integrity is the own responsibility of countries, we can prevent the use of instructions,” he said.
Wescot-Williams also talked about the dispute regulation agreement as an example of a milestone of the past seven years. “It is important to stress this, because not often do we all agree.'” She regrets that there is a different draft by the Dutch government that is not in line with the criteria of the IPKO, but is optimistic about the possibility of adjustments.
Rene Herdé, Member of Parliament for Aruba shared this view. “As soon as this is discussed by the Second Chamber, we will be there to participate in the debates. Because a dispute regulation can result in the stability, which is currently not present in the Kingdom,” Herdé said.
In addition to issues like integrity and dispute regulation, the IPKO also talked about the situation in Venezuela and cooperation possibilities in health care and in education, including a plan to organize a Kingdom conference about the last topic. The delegation of Curaçao mentioned the wish for more cooperation as one of the main achievements of the IPKO. “The fact that we meet and talk about cooperation is the key result.”
Despite all positive notes, there was also some criticism, for instance by MP Rodolphe Samuel, who was present when the list of agreements was signed. “The Dutch are more often and more easily making use of Article 43 in the Charter of the Kingdom,” said Rodolphe, chairman of the Kingdom Affairs Commission of the Parliament of St. Maarten.
He also disapproved of a comment by VVD-MP André Bosman. “Be careful what you wish for,” Bosman said during the meeting with Statia, Saba and Bonaire about the wish for more independence. “For me personally, this IPKO has made very clear what position the Dutch are taking,” said Rodolphe.
Nevertheless, the delegations agreed to meet again from January 9 to 12, 2018, in Aruba for the next IPKO. Poverty will be an important subject on the agenda.