June 7, 2023 –THE HAGUE – Nearly fifty parliamentarians from the islands and the Netherlands gathered in The Hague for the Interparliamentary Kingdom Consultation (Ipko). The atmosphere was positive, and there was a lot of information sharing and discussion. However, when it comes to agreements, none were actually made.
Twice a year, parliamentarians from the islands and the Netherlands hold consultations. This time, the discussions focused on developments in the four different countries, information regarding the establishment of the National Slavery Museum, and a visit to the TU Delft for the green energy project, Green Village. The politicians also addressed the difficulties faced by Caribbean students in the Netherlands, the processing of the slavery past, personal data protection, and climate issues.
Most participants considered the visit productive, with valuable discussions that fostered greater understanding of each other’s positions. However, once again, no decisions were made this past Monday. The list of agreements, which used to contain concrete commitments, now consists of a summary of several pages detailing the topics discussed.
Regarding the discussion on the report “Headaches of Caribbean Students,” which highlighted the challenges experienced by students from the Caribbean part of the Kingdom in 2020, almost three years later, the focus remains on reiterating those challenges. These include issues such as difficulties in obtaining a Citizen Service Number (BSN) promptly and the challenging access to the Dutch basic health insurance, among others.
In the list of agreements, it is stated: “Since the report, there have been promising developments to report. The representative bodies of Aruba, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten, along with the government of the Netherlands, are working to improve the well-being of Caribbean students. However, the ultimate goal has not yet been achieved.”
Curaçao sent seven parliamentarians (plus one as an observer), Sint Maarten sent ten (led by veteran William Marlin, who announced that this would be his last Ipko), and Aruba sent twelve (more than half of the 21-seat Parliament). From the Netherlands, seven members of the Second Chamber and nine members of the First Chamber participated.
According to the President of the Curaçao Parliament, Charetti America-Fransisca, it is essential to focus on the fact that it is important for the citizens of the Kingdom that parliamentarians regularly engage with each other. “The Ipko primarily promotes greater understanding within the Kingdom.”
However, it remains uncertain what happens with that understanding. To give two examples: the democratic deficit has been removed from the agenda after years, without a solution to the problem. Standpoints regarding the opening of marriage for same-sex couples vary significantly within the Kingdom and have become a current issue with the dissolution of two governments, but it is not a subject for the Ipko.
Rolando Brison from Sint Maarten emphasized that “the population is watching us,” and most meetings can be followed virtually. According to him, the population is not interested in what politicians talk about but rather in what they do and what they mean for the population. In friendly terms, he asked the attendees not to forget that.
Whether this happens can be followed by the entire population of the Kingdom at the upcoming Ipko, which will take place from February 20 to 23, 2024, in Aruba.