When reference is made to “The Netherlands”, one usually has in mind a single country which is a member of the European Union (EU). However, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which is the subject of international law, comprises four distinct countries: the country of The Netherlands, and three islands located in the Caribbean, namely, Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten, each constituting a separate autonomous country and not part of the EU. Furthermore, within the country of The Netherlands, there are three other islands in the Caribbean, Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius, which are also not part of the EU.
In this lecture, Professor Fred Soons will address the (colonial) history of this complicated situation, as well as the current constitutional position of the various entities in the Caribbean belonging to the Kingdom of The Netherlands: their position is the result of the exercise of the right to self-determination that is still relevant today. He will also address other issues relating to the position of these entities under international law, such as treaty-making capacity and membership of international orgaizations.