Charter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands

The Charter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands regulates the constitutional relationship between the four countries that make up the Kingdom: the Netherlands, Aruba, Curaçao and St Maarten.

The Charter provides that the four countries manage their own affairs autonomously and are jointly responsible for Kingdom affairs. It also lays down rules governing mutual assistance, consultation and cooperation and the constitutional organisation of the countries.

The Charter was adopted in 1954. Since then, the countries of the Kingdom have conducted their internal affairs autonomously on a basis of equality. The Charter may be amended only with the agreement of all four countries, and it takes precedence over the individual countries’ constitutions.

Kingdom affairs

The Charter specifies a limited number of matters, known as Kingdom affairs, over which individual countries have no control. These include foreign relations and the maintenance of the independence and the defence of the Kingdom. The Charter also lays down how the countries are to conduct Kingdom affairs in cooperation. All matters that the Charter does not define as Kingdom affairs are country affairs.

Values of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

Each country must promote the realisation of human rights, legal certainty and good governance within its borders. It is the Kingdom’s responsibility to safeguard these values.

Changes in the constitutional relationship

10 October 2010 saw changes to the constitutional relations within the Kingdom of the Netherlands and therefore to the Charter as well. The Netherlands Antilles ceased to exist as a country and Curaçao and St Maarten became separate countries within the Kingdom, alongside the Netherlands and Aruba. Bonaire, Saba and St Eustatius became public bodies, similar to municipalities, and now form part of the Netherlands.