After months of preparation, the representatives of the legitimately elected coalition government of Sint Eustatius who where deposed on February 7th, 2018, filed a petition at the Court of First Instance to initiate main proceedings against the Government of the Netherlands on August 29th, 2018. The first hearing is scheduled for October 23rd, 2018.
The petition seeks to have the Court in First Instance declare any and all actions of the Government of the Netherlands which violate international law, and article 73 of the United Nations Charter in particular, as unlawful acts and therefore null and void. The United Nations Charter has established Sint Eustatius’ right to a Full Measure of Self-Government (FMSG). This right is non-negotiable and unconditional.
In the main proceedings, the Government of the Netherlands will be required to reply to the petition, and explain to the Court in First Instance why it feels that the “Wet tijdelijke taakverwaarlozing St. Eustatius”, which it unlawfully enacted in order to depose the democratically elected government of Sint Eustatius, is not in violation of international law, and in particular of articles 26 and 27 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties and articles 2 and 103 of the United Nations Charter.
In its response to the charges, the Government of the Netherlands will also have the opportunity to dispute rulings of the Dutch Supreme Court that obligations under the United Nations Charter are dominant obligations which always supersede any regional or national law. Interestingly, the Government of the Netherlands itself has used that same argument in a number of legal proceedings, in defense of decisions it took.
Furthermore, the Government of the Netherlands will have to legally substantiate its statement, as expressed by former Minister Plasterk in his letter of July 5th, 2017 to the Executive Council of Sint Eustatius, that the Charter of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (het Statuut) and the amendment to it were established in accordance with the requirements of the United Nations Charter.
As plaintiffs, we are convinced that the Government of the Netherlands will not be able to achieve any of the above. Based on jurisprudence, courts are obligated to respect Sint Eustatius’s right to a FMSG because The Netherlands has ratified both the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties and the United Nations Charter.