Role of the Netherlands

Within the Kingdom, the Netherlands has an obligation to promote the wellbeing of its former colonies, as laid down by the United Nations. That means that the Netherlands is responsible for the wellbeing of all the subjects of the Kingdom. Greater wellbeing is the result of good governance, a healthy economy, and properly functioning law enforcement and education systems.

The Netherlands is also responsible for the courts and for combatting crime and drugs trafficking within the Kingdom, for example by maintaining a well-trained and organised police force and an efficient and effective public prosecutions service. Although Aruba, Curaçao and St Maarten are now independent countries, these responsibilities go beyond the capacity of the islands. They lack an adequate number of properly trained employees and suitable material and equipment to undertake such tasks on their own.

Constitutional powers of the countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

The Kingdom of the Netherlands is responsible for matters concerning foreign relations, defence and Dutch nationality. Agreements made in these areas apply to the entire Kingdom and so must be implemented or observed by the Netherlands, Aruba, Curaçao and St Maarten. On other matters, including health care, tourism and employment, the individual countries are free to decide their own policy.

The Dutch ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defence serve all four countries of the Kingdom, as do the Dutch embassies and consulates-general around the world. The Netherlands draws up foreign policy for the entire Kingdom, giving due consideration to the interests of both the European and the Caribbean parts of the Kingdom.

The Netherlands’ role in the new constitutional order

By supporting the new constitutional order, the Netherlands:

  • supports Curaçao and St Maarten in their wish to become autonomous countries within the Kingdom;
  • can ensures good governance that is free of corruption;
  • can help improve the wellbeing of the inhabitants of Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba;
  • is assuming a large share of the government debt of the Caribbean Netherlands, totalling EUR 1.7 billion;
  • will supervise, on a provisional basis, the budgetary policy and public finances of Curaçao and St Maarten;
  • will continue to cooperate with local administrators to fight crime and drugs trafficking between Aruba, Curaçao, St Maarten, and Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba. 

Collaboration

The Kingdom of the Netherlands is responsible for the protection of human rights, legal certainty, and good governance in all its constituent countries. The Netherlands therefore supports the judiciary in the Caribbean region of the Kingdom and is helping to maintain the regional coast guard and the RST [Recherche Samenwerkingsteam], a team of criminal investigators from the Netherlands, the former Netherlands Antilles, and Aruba.

  • Justice system
  • Coast Guard
  • RST
  • Partnership programmes
  • Funds
  • Financial support for St Maarten

Justice system

On average, the Netherlands has 22 judges and ten public prosecutors working in the Caribbean region of the Kingdom. These officials assist and advise the Public Prosecutions Service and the Common Court of Justice. By collaborating in this way, the Netherlands aims to improve the quality of the justice system in the Caribbean region.

Coast Guard

The Coast Guard in the Caribbean region of the Kingdom consists of a partnership between the Netherlands, Aruba, St Maarten and Curaçao. The Coast Guard’s duties are:

  • investigation and patrol: combatting drugs trafficking, patrolling the borders, customs surveillance at sea, monitoring compliance with environmental and fishing legislation, and supervising safe shipping.
  • services:  round-the-clock operation of the Rescue and Coordination Centre (RCC), handling marine distress, emergency and safety radio communications, conducting search and rescue missions (SAR), and assisting in the execution of marine disaster plans. 

Partnership programmes

The Netherlands provides development aid to the former Netherlands Antilles through various partnership programmes. The programmes support development efforts in government, education, and law enforcement as well as social and economic progress. Each of the islands also has an NGO partnership programme. The NGOs concerned are active in human rights, the fight against poverty, and other social issues.

Funds

Three funds have been established to finance the partnership programmes:

  • The Netherlands Antilles Development Foundation manages development aid for government programmes in the former Netherlands Antilles founded to support development efforts in government, education, and law enforcement as well as social and economic progress. The Netherlands will continue to contribute to these programmes until the end of 2012.
  • The Antillean Co-Financing Organisation (in Dutch: AFMO) manages Dutch development aid for NGOs in the Caribbean region of the Kingdom. The Netherlands will contribute an annual amount to this fund until the end of 2012. The AMFO monitors how development aid is spent; its priority is to provide young people with better prospects for the future.  
  • Until recently, the Netherlands also provided development aid through the FDA [Fondo Desaroyo Aruba]. The aid was discontinued in 2010. The programmes supported through the fund have continued.

Financial aid for St Maarten

St Maarten must establish an entirely new government organisation and urgently requires experienced personnel to work in the police force, the prison system and the immigration service. The Netherlands is assisting St Maarten by providing aid to help recruit personnel from outside the island. The aid will be continued until 1 November 2013, in accordance with the cooperation agreement (in Dutch) concluded between the Netherlands and St Maarten on 4 April 2011. 

FDA

It was agreed in 1999 that the Netherlands would gradually reduce the level of development aid paid to Aruba. The two countries further agreed that Aruba would become financially independent after a ten-year period.

Until 2010, both countries deposited money into the Aruba Development Fund or FDA (Fondo Desaroyo Aruba). The Netherlands deposited almost EUR 100 million in the fund, and Aruba paid the comparable sum of AFL 180 million (1 euro = 2.3085 Aruban guilders). The final deposit was made in instalments. The Dutch deposit decreased every year, while the Aruban deposit increased annually.

The FDA pays for projects meant to improve government, education, law enforcement and government finances on Aruba. Various long-range programmes have been set up for this purpose. The two countries have only concluded framework agreements on the long-range programmes at political level. The FDA’s board takes decisions on projects being carried out under the programmes, at the request of the Aruban government. The Netherlands is therefore not involved in the project details.

The Netherlands has ceased making payments into the FDA. In June 2010, the Netherlands and Aruba agreed that the money in the fund may be spent on a new long-range programme. Until 2014, Aruba will continue depositing funds in order to ensure that the original projects are implemented.