Sovereignty and “decolonialization” is being touted as the great salvation for countries with ties of different sorts to one-time colonial countries not just in St. Maarten but in very many different countries including Curaçao, South Sudan and even in England. But many advanced countries have asked themselves “what is the value of sovereignty” and their conclusions have led them to be prepared to give up some level of sovereignty in order to achieve various goals in the fields of trade, education, research, etc.
In the Caribbean there are many territories that have achieved total sovereignty and a few that have stayed connected to the “mother country”. The Dutch Caribbean islands have settled after referendums with a hybrid model which is relatively unique. Most of the countries in the Caribbean that achieved total sovereignty immediately proceeded to relinquish some of the gained sovereignty. The United Kingdom gave up some sovereignty to join the EU but has now reclaimed it with their Brexit; almost all economists have denied real benefits to citizens having been gained.
Does the recent history show a big win for greater sovereignty when you measure the success or otherwise based on quality of life, distribution of income and citizen satisfaction? Or is the opposite true?
Without doing the massive study to measure this accurately I suspect that the answer would be that there is no clear winner for the competition of governance models. The result of such a study would be likely to show that each model comes with advantages and disadvantages very much dependent on specific country conditions, scale and threat and opportunities. I suspect that the positives and negatives of the Dutch Caribbean islands contain distinctly different elements to the sovereignty drives in countries like South Sudan or the United Kingdom.
If such a study included much larger countries than small Caribbean jurisdictions it would conclude that scale (size) played a major role in the development of newly sovereign territories.
There should not be a fear of the discussion of sovereignty because the advantages and disadvantages are mostly easy to measure when transparency is in place. What is not easy to measure is the liberating emotional component of sovereignty especially when this is strong in limited parts of the population. The discussion on sovereignty will always be impacted by romantic idealism that is likely to remain, no matter the quality of the discussion of the country’s real and measured interests. A fact-based approach is likely to be the most beneficial for all concerned.