Caribbean Parts of the Kingdom
Since 10 October 2010, the Kingdom of the Netherlands has consisted of four countries: the Netherlands, Aruba, Curaçao and St Maarten. The Netherlands Antilles has been dissolved and its constituent islands have acquired a new status:
- Curaçao and St Maarten: new autonomous countries within the Kingdom: Curaçao and St Maarten now have a separate status as autonomous countries. They have their own governments and are no longer dependencies of the Netherlands. The Netherlands will, however, continue to assist them during the transitional period as they set up their new national organisations. Plans have been drawn up for their government institutions, which were not yet fully operational on 10 October 2010. The plans will remain in effect for a maximum period of two years. In 2011, the new countries’ overriding concern will be to implement these plans.
- Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba: new municipalities of the Netherlands: Rather than become independent countries, Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba wished to have a closer relationship with the Netherlands. They have now gained the status of “special municipalities”.
- Aruba: Aruba and the Netherlands have agreed on an agenda of improvements in the areas of law enforcement, urban quality of life, and legislation, which they will be tackling in the next few years. An enquiry into the state of public administration on Aruba was completed in 2011. Based on the results of this enquiry, Aruba and the Netherlands would decide whether further measures should be introduced and at what level.
The Netherlands is cooperating with Curaçao, St Maarten, Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba to build a strong, reliable system of public administration that can offer the local population a better quality of service. On 10 October 2010, all the islands acquired a new status, a new government, and new tasks. The changes have consequences for the islands.
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 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. Coast Guard services include 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.
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.
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 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.
Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba
Bonaire is a Caribbean island which, together with Aruba and Curaçao, forms the group known as the ABC islands, located off the north coast of South America near the western part of Venezuela. Bonaire's capital is Kralendijk. The island has a permanent population of 17,408 and an area of 294 km² (together with nearby uninhabited Klein Bonaire).
The name Bonaire is thought to have originally come from the Caquetio word 'Bonay', a name that meant low country. The early Spanish and Dutch modified its spelling to Bojnaj and also Bonaire. The French influence while present at various times never was strong enough to make the assumption that the name means 'good air'.
Bonaire was part of the Netherlands Antilles until the country's dissolution on 10 October 2010, when the island became a special municipality within the country of the Netherlands. It is now considered the Caribbean Netherlands, or BES Islands comprising three special municipalities located in the Caribbean: the islands of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba.
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