the Governor's Speeches

Back to Speeches Indexjul 17, 2012

A Culture of Lawfulness in Sint Maarten

Delivered by His Excellency Eugene B. Holiday
at the Occasion of the Commemoration ofInternational Justice Day

Ladies and Gentleman,

Good morning.

I am pleased to join you today in celebration of  International Justice Day and as such welcome the opportunity to speak to you this morning.

In my acceptance address,  on October 10, 2010, I stated and I quote:
“In the creative and enterprising spirit of the people of Sint Maarten …………… I am hopeful and confident that together we will, with the help of the almighty God take Sint Maarten forward building a strong, stable, responsible and just society.”

I shall, against that background and in keeping with today’s theme: “Improving Capabilities and Strengthening Society”, focus on one of the pillars for a strong, stable and just society. That is I shall focus on the importance of A Culture of Lawfulness In Sint Maarten.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As we commemorate international justice day, it is essential that we reflect on our justice culture in Sint Maarten. I say our to emphasize that the justice culture is not and may not be limited to government and government officials such as our judges, public prosecutors, police officers, immigration officers, customs officers, prison guards or coast guard to name a few. I say that because justice concerns our entire community, namely, individuals, corporations, public organizations and government. I say that because our justice culture or rather our culture of lawfulness is an integrated totality:

• of our judicial institutions and legislation;
• of our associated beliefs therein; and
• of our attitudes and approaches thereto.

The community wide foundation for our Culture of lawfulness is embedded in our constitution through which we declare that we are a people that believe in the rule of law. That is that we believe in the following universal principles(i), namely:

• that no one is above the law,
• that laws are clear and fair, and protect fundamental rights and freedoms;
• that the process of enacting, administering, and enforcing laws is open, efficient, and fair; and
• that justice is delivered by competent, ethical, independent and unbiased representatives.

Ladies and Gentlemen, our declaration in our constitution of our belief in the Rule of Law, in effect defines our Culture of Lawfulness. In general, it means that there is a broadly shared consensus among us the people of Sint Maarten, that the rule of law offers the best long-term chance of securing our rights and attaining our goals. It reflects our confidence that the rule of law is achievable and that we are all committed to upholding it. Our belief in the Rule of Law, our Culture of Lawfulness, means that laws will be drafted, discussed, voted on, published, and executed because of our broadly shared conviction that the law is just and needs to be followed. As such the Rule of law creates  a predictable and stable environment for businesses and citizens, alike and thus provides the foundation for balanced social economic developments. The United Nations characterizes the rule of law as essential for sustained economic progress and development.  And this applies equally for Sint Maarten as we continue to build and maintain a strong, stable and just Sint Maarten.  Therefore, it is in our collective interest to believe in the Rule of Law and to foster a Culture of Lawfulness.

Ladies and Gentlemen, in view of that it is my hope and   recommendation that in keeping with today’s theme “Improving Capabilities and Strengthening Society”, that we, in addition to our investments in law enforcement and prison facilities, invest in the education of our youths through programs in our schools as well as in community campaigns, to create greater awareness of the principles of the Rule of Law of right from wrong, aimed at strengthening our culture of lawfulness. Investments that will have a long term and lasting positive effect on the social and economic development of our country. Investments that will help to motivate us to rise above the narrow confines of our individual interests to the higher and broader concerns of our society. Broader societal concerns such as the uncompromising observance of the democratic principles of freedom, equality, solidarity, accountability, transparency and justice. Investments that will reduce the loss of our scarce human capacity and help us to make more optimum use of the potential of the men and women of our society.

I conclusion, I therefore hereby commend the minister of Justice and the staff of the ministry of justice for the work they do in service of our community and for investing in the commemoration of International Justice day and in doing so playing their role in fostering a Culture of Lawfulness and as such contributing towards building a strong, stable, responsible and just society. To everyone and particularly to the men and women responsible for ensuring law and order on Sint Maarten happy international justice day.

Thank you  and God Bless You.


(i) For more on this see the world justice project literature: