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Status of the Netherlands Antilles

Nederlandse Antillen - dissolved on 10 October 2010

Last modified: 2023-12-09 by rob raeside
Keywords: netherlands antilles | nederlandse antillen | dutch realm | netherlands | antilles |
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[Netherlands Antilles flag] (2:3) image by Mark Sensen, 9 November 2003

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Status of the Netherlands Antilles

The politicians on Curaçao, and also some on St. Maarten, now wanted a Status Aparte as Aruba . However, during referendums held in November 1993 (Curaçao) and October 1994 (Bonaire, St. Maarten, St. Eustatius and Saba) large majorities of the people voted to remain part of the Netherlands Antilles.
Apart from 1) the 'status quo' option and 2) Status Aparte, there were 2 other options, both receiving very few votes: 3) (overseas) province of the Netherlands; 4) full independence.
Mark Sensen, 4 May 1999

I read today in the International Herald Tribune that St. Maarten has just voted for separation from Netherlands Antilles within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Well, I suppose the island will keep on flying its actual flag, but there will probably be a new flag for Neth. Antilles, one of the 5 stars having to be removed, if they follow the same logic than they did in 1986 when Aruba broke away. The article I read didn't say when the separation will happen.
Olivier Touzeau, 26 June 2000

First of all it was a consulting, non-binding referendum, the other options apart from the favoured "status aparte" (68.9%) being "status quo" (3.7%), "independence" (14.2%), and "stronger position within the Neth. Antilles" (11.6%).
Secondly, the Dutch politicians are not in favour of a Status Aparte for Sint Maarten. And when Sint Maarten will leave the Neth. Antilles, the question is what Sint Eustatius and Saba will do. There is e.g. a majority on Saba that wants to become a province of the Netherlands in that case.
Mark Sensen, 26 June 2000

Looking at a map, one has the distinct impression that the whole thing is completely wrong: Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao are just north of Venezuela, and 1000 km to NE are Sint Maarten, Sint Eustatius and Saba. That's the geographical setting.
But the political divisions are Aruba as a separate territory and the Dutch Antilles covering everything else. Now, if Sint Maarten breakes away to a status of separate autonomy, things will become even more strange.
António Martins, 28 June 2000

Today, the report "The time is now, let’s do it!" (so-called Jesurun Report) with plans for reformation of the Netherlands Antilles was presented to Kingdom Relations Minister Thom de Graaf.   It includes the next idea for a new political division:
1. The country Netherlands Antilles will cease to exist
2. Curaçao and St. Maarten will both receive the status of autonomous country within the Kingdom (like Aruba already has since 1986)
3. Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba will each receive the status of "Koninkrijkseiland" ("Kingdoms Island")  
More info (in Dutch) at the website of the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations at Final decisions about the adoption of the plans will probably be taken at a Round Table Conference in 2005.   If the reformations will take place it will have effect on some flags:  
- the flag of the Netherlands Antilles, as well as the flag of the governor of the Netherlands Antilles, will be abolished  
- flags for the governors of Curaçao and St. Maarten will (probably) be introduced.
Mark Sensen, 8 October 2004

The proposed new four-starred flag for the Netherlands Antilles will not be adopted as not only is Sint-Maarten seceding, so is Curaçao. The Dutch government has announced plans for both islands to leave the Netherlands Antilles and although no firm timetable is announced it is likely that the change will take in 2005 or 2006. Both Curaçao and Sint-Maarten will have the same wide-ranging autonomy that is presently enjoyed by Aruba, which withdrew from the Netherlands Antilles in 1986. The three remaining small poorly populated islands of the (reduced) Netherlands Antilles will have a new status, without the responsible government - legislature, Prime Minister and Council of Ministers - that will exist in Aruba, Sint-Maarten, and Curaçao. Both Curaçao and Sint-Maarten, of course, already have flags.
Clive Carpenter, 22 November 2004

Today's edition of The Times newspaper carries an obituary for Bernard Komproe, who only recently became the Prime Minister of the Netherlands Antilles, or the Antilles Federation, as it has been more recently known as.
In conclusion, the obituary states: Coincidentally, an official proposal to end the Antilles Federation, backed by both the Dutch and Antilles Governments, has just been made public. It is considered very likely to be agreed, and a round- table conference next Spring will discuss details. For international purposes, the official designation of all the former Dutch colonies in the Caribbean, together with The Netherlands itself, remains The Kingdom of The Netherlands. Curaçao, and St. Maarten, with Aruba (which seceded from the federation in 1986), will enjoy separate status. The smaller states of Saba, St. Eustatius, and Bonaire have opted for a status close to that of a province of The Netherlands.
Ron Lahav, 22 November 2004

Note that The Times writes about the "Netherlands Antilles federation", so federation with a small "f". In other words, the Netherlands Antilles are still the Netherlands Antilles, not the Antilles Federation. See also my message of 8 October 2004.
Mark Sensen, 22 November 2004

Coincidentally, an official proposal to end the Antilles Federation, backed by both the Dutch and Antilles Governments, has just been made public. It is considered very likely to be agreed, and a round- table conference next Spring will discuss details.
From Intelligence Research Ltd, October 12, 2004:
"Recolonisation initiatives are a rare occurrence, and even rarer are those with a chance of prospering. The Netherlands Antilles may become such a rarity. The special commission set up by the governments of the Netherlands and the Netherlands Antilles, under the direction of former Antillean governor Edsel Jesurun, has recommended breaking up this entity and returning three of its smallest components - Saba, Bonaire and Sint Eustatius - to direct rule from The Hague.   Curaçao and Sint Maarten would be given the same status as the earlier breakaway, Aruba: autonomous countries within the Dutch Kingdom, alongside the Netherlands. This would spell the disappearance of the central government of the Netherlands Antilles (much of it would be subsumed into the new government of Curaçao), but the commission recommends retaining, under a 'cooperative' arrangement, such institutions as the central bank, the social security bank and the pension funds.   Though the recommendations are not binding, both of the commissioning governments have said they would 'weigh heavily' on their decisions. The Jesurun commission has counseled speed: a formal political agreement between both countries by the end of this year, a conference in mid 2005 to sort out the constitutional aspects (which entail changes to the Kingdom Charter and the Islands Regulation, and presumably the scrapping of the Antillean Constitution, plus the groundwork for the new constitutions of Curaçao and Sint Maarten).   Along the line, there will have to be discussions on the financial aspects of such matters as providing security for the new autonomous countries; the commission specifically cites security needs as one of the reasons for the overhaul."
David C. Fowler, 23 November 2004

El Caribe, the principal daily newspaper in the Dominican Republic, reports that the Netherlands Antilles will be dissolved in 2007.
Ron Lahav, 28 November 2005

See my message of 8 October 2004. Saturday the start of Round Table Conference mentioned at that post took place.   Nothing new, apart from the fact that the new status for Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba isn't called "Koninkrijkseiland" ("Kingdoms Island") but a new status of special nature ("sui generis"). The aim is for 1 July 2007 for the political changes to take effect.   For more info (in Dutch) see the official website of the Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations at
Mark Sensen, 28 November 2005

have browsed that site a bit, and there was little information about the new status. Even the recent referenda on all islands are not mentioned. The Antillians were presented several options and the islands of Curaçao, Bonaire and St. Maarten opted for a "status aparte", like Aruba has now. Saba for something else, so in future the Netherlands Antilles will consist of St. Eustatius only. In fact The Netherlands want to get rid of the Netherlands Antilles, and the Netherlands Antilles want to become either the 13th province of The Netherlands, or even a municipality like Urk or Schiermonnikoog. At present it seems impossible to see what will happen next.
Jarig Bakker, 29 November 2005

Minister Nicolai of Kingdomrelations reached a historic agreement with Curaçao and Sint Maarten. The islands will become separate countries, like Aruba. That means that the co-operation between the Netherlands and the Netherlands Antilles, as agreed by the "Koninkrijksstatuut" of 1954, will end. It is agreed that there will be a common court of justice of the Netherlands, Curaçao and Sint Maarten. There are also agreements on policing and prosecution. The Netherlands will take care of the debts of the Netherlands Antilles, totaling 2,5 billion Euros. The Netherlands Antilles will cease to exist on 1 July 2007. Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius will become Dutch municipalities. Aruba is a separate entity since 1986.
No info about change of flags. The currency is also unclear, although it seems that Aruba might be forced to enter the Euro-zone(!)
Source: reported by Stefan Lambrechts.
Jarig Bakker, 3 November 2006

Netherlands Antilles will cease to exist on July 1. At that time two of the islands (Curaçao and Sint Maarten) will become autonomous islands within the Netherlands, much like Aruba is now.  The other three islands (Bonaire, Saba, Sint Eustatius) will become integral parts of the Netherlands, I believe on the same status as towns. Of course all the individual islands' flags will continue to exist, but Curaçao and Sint Maarten's will probably get greater exposure as autonomous islands.
Sources: BBC , official government page.
David Kendall, 15 January 2007

The dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles is planned for 15 December 2008. (15 December is Kingdoms day, the day the Statute of the Kingdom of the Netherlands was signed by Queen Juliana in 1954). This was agreed on Sint Maarten yesterday. Sint Maarten will become a land within the kingdom, Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba will become special municipalities of the Netherlands. The Island Council of Curaçao rejected the final agreement in the end of last year. However, the Dutch government doesn't want to re-open the negotiations. Nevertheless it is most likely Curaçao will also become a separate land.
According to the official website of the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, 12 Dec. 2008 is the target date. The first target date was 1 July 2007.
I'm not sure what caused the delay, I think there are various reasons. Apart from Curaçao's situation maybe also the elections end of last year followed by the formation of a new government (right today) over here in the Netherlands. And 1 July was very ambitious from the very start in my opinion.
So, as from 15 December 2008 the Kingdom of the Netherlands will consist of four countries:  
- The Netherlands (incl. the three special municipalities Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba)  
- Aruba  
- Curaçao  
- Sint Maarten.
Mark Sensen, 13 February 2007

Wikipedia, in separate articles on each entity, notes this has been delayed until December 2008, with different dates for each entity: Sint Maarten is listed at December 15, 2008 and Curaçao for December 28, 2008.
The Dutch government's announcement on Sint Maarten is at
Phil Nelson, 5 July 2007

According to the official web site of the Netherland Antilles Olympic Committee (NAOC), it has been agreed that in view of an imminent separation of the constituent islands, the ANOC will keep a “status quo”, after such break up takes effect.
That’s to mean that, even Sint Maarten and Curaçao become separate entities, they will continue to take part in sports events as now.
This is because international bodies such as FIFA and IOC does not admit dependent territories anymore. The question remains, if Netherlands Antilles cease to exist in 2008, which flag shall be flown by its sportsmen and sportswomen.
Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán, 29 July 2007

That's for sure that the Netherlands Antilles are to disappear, it is just a matter to know or to determine when.
"The Netherlands and The Netherlands Antilles and Aruba have reached agreement on the new status for the islands. At the Round Table Conference in Curaçao on the 15th of December Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, State secretary Bijleveld and Antillean Prime Minister De Jongh-Elhage signed an accord on the new status.
The islands of Curaçao and Sint Maarten will become autonomous territories, while Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius will become Dutch municipalities. The last conditions of dissolution will be discussed and finalized in 2009."
See also:
According to
"St Maarten, which started the process of the break up of the Dutch Antilles by voting for an independent status in a referendum in 2000, wants the Dutch government to commit to January 1 2010 as an official date. But Bijleveld has already stated that the final date will only be established at the last conference. It is public knowledge that the cabinet does not expect the new status of the Dutch Antilles to become reality before 2011."
Surely each island will keep its current flag and coat of arms, however, It has been told that regarding international sports, all five islands should be represented as "Netherlands Antilles" (an eventually nonexistent country).
Will Athletes fly the same flag as they do now?
Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán, 2 February 2009

The Netherlands Antilles will cease to exist on October 10 next year (2010). The Netherlands Antilles have decided this last Wednesday, September 30.
The Netherlands Antilles arose in 1954 as an autonomous entity within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Until the achievement of the Status Aparte (separate status) for Aruba on January 1, 1986 the Dutch Antilles consisted of the Caribbean islands of Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, St Eustatius and St Maarten (St. Martin). They were represented by the six stars in the 1959 flag of the Netherlands Antilles.
With the separation of Aruba in 1986 one star was dropped, to represent the five islands left in the Netherlands Antilles.
The remaining five islands in the Netherlands Antilles will on 10 October 2010 go their own political way. Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius will become special oversees municipalities of the Netherlands.
Curaçao and St. Maarten will get the same status as Aruba already has achieved.
The current flag of the Netherlands Antilles will cease to exist. The flags of Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius will become Dutch municipality flags.
The flags of St. Maarten and Curaçao will get the same status as the flag of Aruba now.
From October 10, 2010 the Kingdom of the Netherlands will consist of: The Netherlands, Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten.
Jos Poels, 1 October 2009

Via Benevex Stefan Lambrechts reported (translation of Jarig Bakker):
According to a new law (WOLBES) the BES-islands (Bonaire, Sint-Eustatius and Saba) will have the same relationship after 10 October 2010 as Dutch municipalities; Curaçao and Sint Maarten will then become new countries within the Kingdom. In the early morning of 10 October the flag with the 5 stars will be hauled down in Kralendijk (Bonaire), Oranjestad (Sint Eustatius) and The Bottom (Saba; instead two new ones will be hoisted: the island-flag and at the Regional Service Center (RSC, a kind of Secretariat of Home Affairs) a flag with the national logo, like in the Netherlands.
After 10-10-2010 the Vaalserberg (Limburg province) won't be the highest of the Netherlands any longer: Mount Scenery, an extinct volcano, on Saba Island will be it, with 870 meters. Saba will also be the only Dutch municipality with tropical rainforest. Source: Binnenlands Bestuur 39 2010, 1-10-2010

"De wet voor het nieuwe openbaar lichaam (WOLBES) houdt in dat de BES-eilanden (Bonaire, Sint Eustatius en Saba) na 10 oktober een zelfde relatie met het ministerie van Binnenlandse Zaken krijgen als Nederlandse gemeenten; Curaçao en Sint Maarten worden per die datum nieuwe landen binnen het Koninkrijk. Als in de vroege morgen van 10 oktober in Kralendijk (Bonaire), Oranjestad (Sint Eustatius) en The Bottom (Saba) de Antilliaanse vlag met vijf sterren wordt gestreken, worden er daarvoor in de plaats twee gehesen: de eigen eilandvlag en op het Regionaal Service Centrum (RSC, een soort ministerie van Algemene Zaken) die met het Rijkslogo, zoals in Nederland. In eerste instantie wilde staatssecretaris Bijleveld (CDA) van BZK de Regionale Service Centra 'Uitvoeringskantoren' noemen, maar dat wezen de eilanden af: het klonk te koloniaal.
De Vaalserberg is na 10-10-2010 niet langer het hoogste punt van Nederland. Dat wordt de dode vulkaan Mount Scenery op Saba met zijn 870 meter. Saba is ook de enige Nederlandse gemeente met een
stukje tropisch regenwoud.
Bron: Binnenlands Bestuur 39 2010, 1-10-2010
Stefan Lambregts and Jarig Bakker, 3 October 2010

The Kingdom of the Netherlands consists of four separate countries: Aruba, Curaçao, Netherlands and Sint Maarten. All are autonomous in their internal affairs. The Kingdom takes care of foreign affairs and defence. For Kingdom affairs there is a special Kingdom government, consisting of the Netherlands ministers plus one minister for each of the other countries.
This system has been in place since 1954 (with Netherlands, Netherlands Antilles and Surinam), so there is nothing new happening. (see Wikipedia under Kingdom of the Netherlands).
The three BES-islands are now 'public bodies' of the Netherlands (ex art. 134 of the Constitution) and will become normal municipalities in due course.
The Kingdom of the Netherlands is a UN member. The islands Aruba and NA were (one) member of UPU and observers of several other organizations (UNWTO etc.).
The expectations is that this will be changed to Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten as one member/observer.
The Olympic Committee has changed the rules for membership of non-independent entities. Existing members will stay a normal member, but new non-independent members will not be admitted. This means that Aruba stays a IOC member, but Curaçao and Sint Maarten athletes will have to be part of the Netherlands team.
Maxim van Ooijen, 11 October 2010

Since July 2007 there is a new article 31.1 in the Olympic Charter (see below). This means that non-independent countries can no longer become an IOC member. NOCs that were members of the IOC before 2007 can remain a member (American Samoa, Aruba, Bermuda etc.). Others can not become a member anymore (Northern Marianas, Faroe Islands, New Caledonia).
The NAOC has tried, but apparently lost. Since there is also a rule that athletes participating for a NOC should be a citizen of that country. This would mean that no athletes from Curaçao or Sint Maarten can go to the Olympic Games any more, since they are not citizens of the Netherlands or Aruba, but of other countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
See also (opens as a Word document):

31 Country and Name of an NOC
1. In the Olympic Charter, the expression "country" means an independent State recognised by the international community.
Maxim van Ooijen, 11 October 2010

ISO has issued new country codes for islands in the Dutch West Indies to reflect their new administrative status following constitutional reform by the government of the Netherlands.
The islands of Curaçao and Sint Maarten become autonomous countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, with the following two-letter and three-letter country codes issued under the ISO standard, ISO 3166-1:
Sint Maarten (Dutch part) - SX  SXM
Curaçao - CW CUW
The islands of Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and Saba become Dutch municipalities which are assigned the following ISO 3166-1 code:
Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and Saba  - BQ BES
The codes for the Netherlands Antilles are deleted from ISO 3166-1 and transitionally reserved for a period of 50 years:
Netherlands Antilles  - AN ANT
Source: 2010-12-20
Jarig Bakker, 29 December 2010

New Flag For Netherlands Antilles?

image by Juan Manuel Gabino Villascan, 26 February 2002

According the results of the referendum held in June 23, 2000, in Sint Maarten (the Netherlands part of the Caribbean island of Saint Marten), this territory is becoming a "new country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands", in other words, Sint Maarten is seceding from Netherlands Antilles. This is taking place on nest 1 June 2002.
The question is if will keep the Neth. Antilles the same flag or will it change?
According information requested by myself to the government of the Neth. Antilles, via e-mail, the flag will be changed: to the current flag will be drop off a star, remaining four, one for each component island: Curaçao, Bonaire, Saba and Saint Eustatius. The stars are displaying like a rhombus.
Juan Manuel Gabino Villascan, 26 February 2002

image by Juan Manuel Gabino Villascan, 27 February 2002

This a variant of the future Netherlands Antilles flag to be adopted on June 1, 2002, when Sint Maartin secedes from it. The lateral (near-hoist and near-fly) stars are more separated, remarking the rhombus shape.
Juan Manuel Gabino Villascan, 27 February 2002

Although there was a majority for a "status aparte" in the (consulting) referendum, and there have been some talks I think with the rest of the Netherlands Antilles, I never heard the new status was granted However, to be sure I mailed the Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations and a newspaper on the Neth. Antilles. When I receive an answer I will forward it.
Mark Sensen, 27 February 2002

I don't have an answer from the ministry yet. But I received one from the newspaper Amigoe at Curaçao, and they don't know anything about it. I also got an answer from Jos Poels who is in contact with a journalist working for a Dutch newspaper in Curaçao. He wrote it's very unlikely a Status Aparte ever will be given.
Mark Sensen, 1 March 2002