Everyone needs to follow the rule of law – Good governance symposium opens today

POSTED: 11/2/12 2:25 PM

St. Maarten – Today will see the hosting of the second annual symposium of the High Councils of State at the Westin Dawn Beach Resort and Spa. The program gets underway at 8:00 a.m. and is expected to run until 12:00 pm. With the theme being Thoughts on Good Governance, Professor Jaime Saleh, Minister of State and former Governor of the Netherlands Antilles, will address more than 250 invitees on what is good governance, how is it working and the important roles the High Councils of State play in St. Maarten.

Professor Saleh said that although several laws, regulations and the Constitution may in theory be part of the country’s legal structures they will only be applied if people understand what good governance means. It is for this reason that the High Councils of State are taking to the communities to change the mindset of the society.

“If we have regulations and laws and we don’t comply with them or enforce these laws then it is not worthwhile to have the laws because it has to do with us not having them in our mindset. That is where you start with educating the people to let them know,” Professor Saleh passionately said.
He added that in any democratic system nothing should be taken for granted. People must know “how to follow the rule of law, the principle of good governance, the principle of transparency and the matter of integrity of our government, society and the public and private sector.”
He also alluded to the guarantee which has to be given by the Kingdom government about the matter of good governance in the Dutch Caribbean.
The High Councils of State are the office of the Ombudsman, the Council of Advice and the General Audit Chamber. On Wednesday a joint press conference was held to inform the public of what to expect at today’s event.
“The concept of good governance is not something that we learn from one day to the other. The principles that guide good governance are things that the whole community and even our governmental bodies have to understand. We recognize that good governance is a learning process,” Ombudsman Dr. Nilda Arduin-Lynch said.
Chairlady of the Council of Advice Mavis Brooks-Saloman emphasized that every person is under the rule of law and must preserve the democratic principles upon which St. Maarten was founded.

“There is a foundation upon which our country goes about its actions, that is based on guaranteeing certain basic fundamental human rights and making sure that you know where you stand if there is any conflict that needs to be dealt with on a legal basis.
Everybody is under the rule of law and when we are doing our jobs we have to see to it that the laws that are being made are in keeping with democratic principles and good governance,” Brooks-Saloman stated.

During the symposium, the High Councils of State will each give brief explanations on their main constitutional tasks and also show the relation between the advices they have submitted so far and good governance.
“We will focus our tasks on controlling government in terms of policies and guidelines and also focus on the financial aspects of good governance, chairman of the General Audit Chamber Ronald Halman said.
The relationship between government and its citizens will also be discussed as we as the Constitutional Court.
Following the formal presentations, attendees will be allowed to ask questions. Among those invited to the event are the Council of Ministers, the Parliament, civil servants and the heads of various foundations on the island.

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