Human rights are more than just aid for refugees

The protection function of the kingdom also means working together. If this leads to a comprehensive approach to problems in the context of nature and environmental matters, such as modern nature and environmental legislation, including proper supervision and enforcement, then this is a win-win situation for all parties and especially the people of Curaçao. Jeff Cybersma

view | Jeff Sepisma *

every four years Universal Periodic Review affiliate United Nations Human Rights Council Geneva is just coming to an end. At this meeting, member states present their policies in the field of human rights (see box) and assess shortcomings and progress made in various fields.

The Kingdom was also attended by a delegation from Curaçao. Aside from the question to what extent the country’s presentations in Geneva actually reflect the reality – who is going to fail so much – with regard to Curaçao, the focus at present seems to be solely on the subject of Venezuelan refugees. Their status, illegality, participation and exploitation in society, their imprisonment and deportation, etc. were widely reported.

All aspects that, if not handled properly, will lead to human rights violations. In this context, the Curaçao delegation returns with a positive message that undocumented migrant children can obtain a residence permit and thus access basic services. Great, but it is not being said that we are not a party to the Refugee Convention and the Protocol that accompanies it.

Another compelling example is the right to marry a person of the same sex. This is still not regulated in Curaçao, despite the fact that the court ruled that this constituted a violation of human rights. What about other human rights, such as the right to a clean environment, the right to health and the right to a decent life? How do we deal with this right now and what are we going to do about it in the short term?


The Human Rights Catalog is not static. Over time, human rights have been added to or their meaning interpreted differently. Just look at the concept of slavery. That was canceled long ago on paper. Yet, by another interpretation, the concept is still very much alive. Just think of labor exploitation, forced prostitution, and human trafficking.

For example, the United Nations General Assembly recently officially recognized access to a clean and healthy environment as a universal human right. The impact of climate change, unsustainable management of natural resources, air, land and water pollution, irresponsible handling of chemicals and waste and the resulting loss of biodiversity are all cited as violations of this human right. According to the resolution, an adverse environment also prevents people from effectively enjoying all other human rights.

In this context, the meeting of the parties to the Climate Treaty took place in Egypt (COP 27) where more agreements were concluded against global warming caused by greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane. The 1.5 degree standard is under pressure and arduous negotiations are under way over a compensation fund for developing countries that suffer seriously from the consequences – sea level rise, warming with strong weather changes, more severe storms – caused mainly by much higher emissions than developed countries. Countries.


Remarkably, the Curaçao delegation – while Curaçao is still not a party to the climate treaty – gleefully declared that it would ensure trucks would drive cleanly in 2040, so without exhaust gases ( – Curaçao and Aruba Dutch brand initiative for more clean trucks /).

The question is whether more important climate decisions should not be made for our island? For example, ensuring that ISLA emissions of carbon dioxide and other emissions, if opened, are significantly reduced, measures are taken to form coastal protection or to ensure an affordable supply of clean drinking water. Sound environmental legislation with modern environmental standards, such as air standards, was also adopted, as the court had to rule that Curaçao violated human rights in this area.

Warranty obligation

It is significant in this context that the Dutch House of Representatives recently passed a motion asking the government to cooperate with the Curaçao government and local human rights organizations in the context of the Kingdom’s commitment to guarantee regarding human rights.

First of all, what is involved in this guarantee? The second paragraph of Article 43 of the Basic Law states that guaranteeing human rights, fundamental freedoms, legal certainty, and good governance is a matter for the Kingdom. The legal principle was and remains that this duty of surety can only be exercised as a final remedy, that is, only when all local possibilities have been exhausted.

However, the kingdom’s Council of State said this should not mean that action should not be taken until after the calf has drowned. In a recent article by Stanley Petrian, quoting Rita Dulce Rahman, this is discussed in more detail. It is said that the protection function mainly means to work together. The basis for this is formed by Article 37 of the Charter, which states that the Netherlands, Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten shall consult as far as possible on all matters involving the interests of two or more countries.

To this end, special representatives can be appointed – such as judicial cooperation and cooperation between the National Archives and the University and in the field of education, culture and science – and joint bodies can be established. The article gives an example of some of those, such as promoting effective economic, financial and monetary relations or enhancing economic resilience through mutual aid and interstate assistance, but it is not exhaustive.

States could easily include nature and environmental issues in this category. An example is modern nature and environmental legislation, including appropriate stewardship and enforcement. Determination of plants and animals protected and also creation of natural parks with a legal basis, both on land and at sea, including environmental regulations for land, water and air, as well as modern standards.

If these consultations now lead to a holistic approach to nature and environmental problems, as has just been described, then this is a win-win situation for all parties and especially the people of Curaçao.

* Jeff Sepisma is a biologist and attorney. He is a member of the Curacao Advisory Council, visiting lecturer at the University of Curacao and ad hoc judge of the Joint Court of Justice. He wrote this opinion in his own name.

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