PHILIPSBURG--United People’s (UP) party faction leader Member of Parliament (MP) Grisha Heyliger-Marten responded on Monday to statements made by Party For Progress (PFP) and United Democrats (UD) regarding the decolonisation process. In her response, she maintained that securing the rights of the people of St. Maarten through decolonisation does not require going back to the people for their approval.
“In the first place I would like to point out that, to a certain extent, I can understand the confusion that the UD and PFP factions are referring to. The right to self-determination, decolonisation and international law are not complicated topics, but they are very specialistic parts of the law.
“It is not something that most citizens have to deal with on a daily basis. Even most lawyers are not versed in the topic. It took me weeks and months of reading academic research and other documentation, listening to experts, and doing additional research to get a grasp of it. Having started this process back in August of 2019, I am still learning every day.
“The joint proposal with my colleague MP Solange Ludmila Duncan to establish a Permanent Committee on Constitutional Affairs and Decolonisation was based on this process. The proposal gives an extensive explanation of the tasks and objectives of the Permanent Committee and I am happy that it was approved unanimously by Parliament.”
Heyliger-Marten said this issue is crucial for St Maarten’s future, and should not be used for party politics. She thanked all parties in Parliament for the support in establishing the Permanent Committee approved during the public meeting of November 5.
The motion passed that same day was a political affirmation of the Permanent Committee and “a firm declaration” by the representatives of the people of St Maarten to the global community – including the Netherlands – that they will make use of their right to self-determination to achieve a full measure of self-government as required by the United Nations.
These rights, not fully exercised by the people of St Maarten or “afforded to us by the Government of the Netherlands are not a matter of opinion that need to be debated, but a matter of legal fact.”
According to Heyliger-Marten, these rights and the process do not require “going back to the people for their approval, since it is both a legal right of the people of St. Maarten and a legal and sacred obligation of the Netherlands under article 73 of the UN Charter to provide them with these rights.”
“Both the Permanent Committee and the motion create the framework and pave the way for a long-term trajectory. Additionally, Resolution Four of the motion clearly mandates the Government of St. Maarten to continue the negotiations for the third tranche of liquidity support with the Netherlands, once the outcome is in accordance with international law and the interest of the people St Maarten is treated as paramount in the process,” Heyliger-Marten stated.
“As explained in the proposal and motion, a great deal of the groundwork has been done, and we now have a golden opportunity to finalise unfinished business, correct legal wrongs, and create a better St. Maarten for generations to come.
“I was therefore surprised that the same MPs who voted for the establishment of the Permanent Committee did not support the motion. Both documents have the same points of departure; namely, the fact that the decolonisation of the former Netherlands Antilles, including St Maarten, was never completed.
“The proof of this legal fact has been provided to Parliament months ago, and as legislators, we have the obligation to make sure we read and understand all documents at our disposal before making statements and decisions. You can’t be ‘one foot in and one foot out’, especially not when it comes to matters of crucial importance like these.”