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Suriname - Foreign Relations

Since gaining independence, Suriname has become a member of the United Nations, the Organization of American States, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and the Non-Aligned Movement. Suriname is a member of the Caribbean Community and Common Market and the Association of Caribbean States; it is associated with the European Union through the Lome Convention. The Netherlands remains Suriname's biggest donor, but it has been surpassed by the U.S. as a trade partner. Suriname participates in the Amazonian Pact, a grouping of the countries of the Amazon Basin that focuses on protection of the Amazon region's natural resources from environmental degradation.

Reflecting its status as a major bauxite producer, Suriname is also a member of the International Bauxite Association. The country also belongs to the Economic Commission for Latin America, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Islamic Development Bank, the International Finance Corporation, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. In 2008, Suriname signed the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

There is antipathy toward the UN, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the European Union as sources of development funding because of numerous pre-conditions, up to two-year waits, and the necessity for many consultants to arrange financing. Suriname is important to the Netherlands due to the historic ties between the two countries and the presence of a large Surinamese community in the Netherlands. There are many cultural exchanges and partnerships between the two countries. The Netherlands and Suriname have a shared language and history, and as a result, strong cultural ties. There are many cultural exchanges and partnerships between them. The Netherlands also promotes cultural activities in Suriname and the two countries work together to maintain heritage buildings in Suriname.

At independence, Suriname signed an agreement with the Netherlands providing for about $1.5 billion in development assistance grants and loans over a 10- to 15-year period. Initial disbursements amounted to about $100 million per year, but were discontinued during military rule. After the return to a democratically elected government in 1991, Dutch aid resumed. The Dutch relationship continued to be an important factor in the economy, with the Dutch insisting that Suriname undertake economic reforms and produce specific plans acceptable to the Dutch for projects on which aid funds could be spent.

In 2000, the Dutch revised the structure of their aid package and signaled to the Surinamese authorities their decision to disburse aid by sectoral priorities as opposed to individual projects. In 2001 both governments agreed to spend the remaining development funds to finance programs in 6 different sectors: health care, education, environment, agriculture, housing, and governance.

Since 2008 the structural development relationship between the Netherlands and Suriname has been phased out. In 2012 the Netherlands suspended the Treaty Funds after the Surinamese parliament passed a law granting amnesty to those suspected of the murders committed on 8 December 1982. In view of the special ties between the Netherlands and Suriname, the Netherlands continues to facilitate contact and the exchange of knowledge between the two societies. The Surinamese-Dutch twinning facility was set up for this purpose, for the period between 2013 and 2016, with a total budget of 6.5 million.

France and Suriname share a border of 520km marked by the River Maroni. The civil war led to an influx of refugees from Suriname to French Guiana. These were essentially Maroons from the inner regions, thousands of whom remained in Guiana after the end of hostilities. Since the reopening of the border in December 1991, the traditional exchanges have recommenced. Suriname has shown a desire to strengthen its ties with France, as illustrated by the opening of an Embassy in Paris in 2011. Frances goal is to limit the cross-border clandestine economy and to regulate the considerable illegal immigration flow into Guiana, while fostering the development of trade and cultural and human exchanges.

There is a border dispute concerning a triangular forest area of about 3,000 kmbetween the Marouini and Litani rivers, incorporated into the Guiana Amazonian Park which was created in 2007. The delimitation of the maritime border was long contentious too, but was the subject of fruitful negotiations in 2014-2015 which are expected to conclude soon.

Bilateral cooperation agreements with several countries in the region have underscored the government's interest in strengthening regional ties. The return to Suriname from French Guiana of about 8,000 refugees from the 1986-91 Interior War between the military and domestic insurgents has improved relations with French authorities. Longstanding border disputes with Guyana and French Guiana remain unresolved. Negotiations with the Government of Guyana brokered by the Jamaican Prime Minister in 2000 did not produce an agreement, but the countries agreed to restart talks after Guyanese national elections in 2001.

In January 2002, the presidents of Suriname and Guyana met in Suriname and agreed to resume negotiations, establishing the Suriname-Guyana border commission. In 2004 Guyana brought a complaint against Suriname under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) regarding their maritime border dispute. In 2007, the UN International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) ruled that both Suriname and Guyana are entitled to their share of the disputed offshore basin which is believed to be rich in oil and gas deposits. Using the equidistance line, the tribunal awarded Suriname 6,900 sq. miles and Guyana 12,800 sq. miles of this basin. Suriname's earlier dispute with Brazil ended amicably after formal demarcation of their shared border.

Suriname still claims territory between New (Upper Corentyne) and Corentyne/Kutari (Koetari) rivers (all headwaters of the Corentyne). French Guiana disputes the area between Riviere Litani and Riviere Marouini (both headwaters of the Lawa).

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Page last modified: 26-03-2020 18:46:19 ZULU