From Monday 27 June till Wednesday 29 June the ombudsman institutions of the Kingdom of the Netherlands have addressed the civil servants of Sint Maarten on the topic of good administration. It was the second time that the ombudsman institutions came together. The Kingdom of the Netherlands consists of a European part: the Netherlands with municipalities in the Caribbean, and three Caribbean parts: Sint Maarten, Curaçao and Aruba. Three countries in the kingdom have ombudsman institutions and Aruba is setting up the institution at this moment. The ombudsman institutions of the kingdom have an annual meeting in one of the countries.
Aim of the prestentations was to reach out to the civil servants of the country Sint Maarten on the topic of good governance. This was done via several presentations and workshops. The first presentation was on Politics and Adminstration and was given by the National Ombudsman of the Netherlands Mr. Van Zutphen in which his main message was that the citizen's perspective must be assured in everything the government does . The second presentation was on Internal Complaint Handling, which was given by Mr. Keursly Concincion, Ombudsman of Curaçao. He made clear that, even though it is important to have legislation in place regarding the internal complaints handling of the government, a proper attitude for solving problems of citizens is a good starting point. The third presentation, which also included a workshop, was on Propriety by Mrs. Nilda Arduin, Ombudsman of Sint Maarten.
Interaction with civil servants
Most of the one and a half day meeting with the civil servants was interactive, as the they were asked to tell about their experience and respond to the questions of the three ombudsman present. In the workshop of Mrs. Nilda Arduin on Propriety civil servants were asked to come up with a case from their personal experience as a citizen with the public services. After that, they were asked to look at that case, from the viewpoint of the civil servants and finally they were asked to take the role of an advisor on the case. This gave rise to lively discussions and gave participants a good insight in what citizens run up against and how such problems could be solved. By using the standards of proper conduct, civil servants were able to see the norm that was relevant in each given case.
View on the role of the ombudsman
There was also a meeting with members of Parliament, Chamber of Audit, Council of Advice, judges and heads of private companies with a public task. Mr Van Zutphen presented his view on the role of the ombudsman in the state context and how this institute can support and strengthen good governance within a country and help bring citizens and government on a path of cooperation and understanding.
On Wednesday morning the three ombudsman closed the meeting with a sharing of experience between the ombudsman institutions of the Kingdom and ended with a press conference. Special note must be given about the fact that the fourth country in the Kingdom, Aruba, is at the brink of setting up an ombudsman institution. For this reason the project leader for this task also took part in all the meetings.