Wescot-Williams links nation building and building a state

POSTED: 06/14/11 12:18 PM

St. Maarten – Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams has linked the processes of nation building and building a state and institutions, stressing that both require community participation. The prime minister’s comments were made at Monday’s Flag Day celebration at the Government Administration Building.

“I challenge the community, starting with my own government, to make a conscious effort towards nation building, beginning with every individual, every organization and society at large with any act that contributes to the broad process of nation building,” the prime minister said.

“I said many years ago that the constitutional process was but a means, a means of nation building and of national development. During those years, nation building was an explicit trajectory of the constitutional process.  How, you may ask? By community involvement and emphasizing our national symbols, such as the flag,” Wescot-Williams said.

The prime minister labeled the nation building process a daunting commitment that in its narrowest form focuses on forming the nation and rallying around the symbols that bind the community together and creates the national identity.

“In building the “State” of Sint Maarten, we look at the institutions that are the bedrock of our hard-fought for new status, our executive, legislative and judicial branches that are independent, yet dependent on each other and necessary for our democracy and State of law.

And in that collective State, of course the institutions that provide the support to the State are paramount. That part is the institutional building; building our government organization and social infrastructure,” Wescot-Williams said.

She added, “While all three are primarily our responsibility as a people, our nation building and building up our State is up to us. In building our institutions, such as government departments and services, it is clear that we have to rely in some cases on the help and experience of others. This is manifested in different forms of collaboration, consultancy, or SLA’s. Vital institutions, like our hospital (to name one), can enter into institution-to-institution arrangements for support. Most of this most comes however with a price tag attached. We work at improving efficiency and effectiveness, building professionalism and capacity, as part of institution building.”

“When it comes to building our nation and State, none other can do this for us. Our governance structure, our democracy hinges on how we build our State. In that context, I believe we will have to learn as we proceed. No democracy was perfected in a day. To avoid chaos, we luckily have the basis of new and adopted laws and legislation. But it is a continuous process, lead by the government as a whole that has to build and build on state-society relations,” the prime minister added.

“Nation building, to my belief is also a process, but one in which every resident needs to understand his and her role and play that role. The hard infrastructure is also building a nation, but it has to go hand in hand with intangible growth of a nation. Nation building includes our commonality and symbols of this commonality, such as our national flag and song, and yes, elements of our culture. Because of the multi-national character of our society, this part of nation building needs to be nudged. And so albeit at the last moment, I requested that the observance of our flag this year not be skipped,” Wescot-Williams said.

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