Aruba and The Netherlands Antilles
The administrative relationship between the Netherlands and the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba is governed by the Charter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The Charter, which was drawn up in 1954, is the highest constitutional instrument, even taking precedence over the Constitution. It states that the Netherlands, the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba are equal partners in the Kingdom, which may be regarded as a kind of federation. Each of these partners runs its own affairs, except as relates to a number of issues known as ‘Kingdom affairs’.
Kingdom affairs include the defence of the Kingdom and the maintenance of its independence, foreign relations, human rights and fundamental freedoms, legal certainty, the quality of public administration, and oversight of the rules on citizenship, extradition, and the admission or expulsion of foreign nationals. These matters are regulated by Kingdom-wide legislation, applying to all three partner countries. Treaties are concluded on behalf of the Kingdom as a whole, but may not necessarily apply to all partner countries. Partner countries are only involved in the conclusion of treaties that affect them. It is up to them to decide whether this is the case.
The monarch is the head of state of the Kingdom and of each of the three partner countries. The Netherlands Antilles (comprising Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, St Eustatius and St Maarten) and Aruba each have a governor representing the monarch. One important Kingdom-wide institution is the Council of Ministers for the Kingdom, which consists of the Dutch cabinet and ministers plenipotentiary for the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba. Kingdom-wide legislation is proposed by the government of the Kingdom (consisting of the monarch and the Council of Ministers for the Kingdom) and passed by the Dutch parliament (the ‘States General). There are two other Kingdom-wide institutions: the Council of State for the Kingdom and the Supreme Court of the Kingdom.
The Charter provides that the constitutions of the Netherlands, Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles must serve as the basis for their respective systems of government.
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