Well-attended conference at Bonaire about child rights in The Caribbean Netherlands

On 12 September last, Karin Kloosterboer of UNICEF the Netherlands held a presentation of the UNICEF report Child on Bonaire: Child rights in The Caribbean Netherlands (Kind op Bonaire: Kinderrechten in Caribisch Nederland) published in May. Professionals from the youth chain were invited and the turnout was great. Approximately 50 people from various organizations working with youngsters (a.o. education, care, PEB, guardianship) met together. Island Governor Dr. Lydia Emerencia and Commissioner Sylvana Janga-Serfilia were also present and took actively part in the discussions.


Karin Kloosterboer indicated in her presentation, that the children rights must be seen as minimum standards the countries that signed the International Treaty Rights Children, have to comply with. Both European Netherlands as the Caribbean Netherlands must comply with these children rights.

Several ways could be explored to achieve the standards, but the minimum standards must be achieved. This has also been confirmed by the College of Human Rights.

If we look in that perspective to the position of affairs in the Caribbean Netherlands we must acknowledge, on the basis of the report, Child on Bonaire, that none of these minimum standards is achieved. That means, that from now on, there’s a lot to be done to eliminate the delay. This is recognized by the Kingdom Government, which also means that there should be investments in the target group youngsters.

The attendees indicate, that the level of youth facilities aspired to, is not clearly from the Kingdom Government, with the exception of OCW. OCW has indicated that they aspire to the Dutch level. The participants indicated that, on the basis of the minimum standards described in the Child rights, extra investments are needed. Regarding the existing needs for the youth, this may not be waited for long. The representatives of the Kingdom Government and the PEB will jointly consider how they can ask attention for this.

In the afternoon program, problems described in the report, were lively depicted by a number of youngsters of the Bonaire Youth Outreach Foundation in a role play. They portrayed a family that had to face health problems/addiction, too small living area, problems with education, inability of parents, domestic violence and a teen mother. The participants in the conference went with them in conversation and came up in multi-disciplinary teams with plans to give assistance. This method of working together for a family delivered good plans and as an additional advantage that organizations could also exchange a lot of information about what they can offer. Everyone unanimously agreed that there is still a lot to gain in targeted cooperation around a casus.

The conference has supplied the necessary input for the design of integral youth policy in which attention is requested for a catching up that must be made on Bonaire to live up the treaty of child rights .