Polanen and Wit speak at October 14th Symposium

POSTED: 10/9/11 10:24 PM

St. Maarten – The two key speakers for the High Councils of State (HCOS) symposium for October 14 is Dr. Samuel Polanen and Justice Bob Wit. The symposium is held under the theme “Checks and Balances in a Democracy and the Role of High Councils of State,” and will be held at the Westin Dawn Beach Hotel & Casino. The objective of the symposium is to increase the awareness in a general sense regarding the role and value of the High Councils of State within a democratic system.

Polanen is a constitutional law consultant and the director of the Foundation for Civic Education. He also serves as an advisor to Suriname’s Permanent Secretary of Home Affairs and has served as an international observer at elections held in various countries. Wit currently serves as a judge of the Caribbean Court of Justice and is President of the Constitutional Court of St. Maarten.
Both men will provide information as to why the councils are necessary and what tasks these institutions fulfil. Modern well-functioning democracies are characterized by the division of powers between the various branches of government as well as the existence of bodies whose sole purpose is to maintain checks and balances on the functioning of the system.
Like other parliamentary democracies, St. Maarten has the institutions that both advise government as well as review the functioning of government. What is different in St. Maarten’s case is that many of these institutions are new and must be developed while being expected to function from inception of the new status. The challenge is to carry out the role as stipulated by law while developing the functions.

Improved awareness of the existence of the institutions as well as the function of the institutions is the ultimate goal. In so doing the HCOS hope that the institutions will become better understood and also better able to execute the legally prescribed tasks. Another outcome is that there will be more interest for the proper development of the institutions. As the institutions are new, it is critical that the formative stages are executed with the support of all relevant players, including government, parliament, and the public and civil society.
The invitees to the symposium are Members of Parliament, Ministers, Secretary Generals, Department Heads, Section Heads and other stakeholders in the community, as well as invitees from abroad.
The Ombudsman, the General Audit Chamber and the Advisory Council, are three of the constitutionally recognized High Councils of State in St. Maarten.

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