Alternate History

Commonwealth of States (Twilight of a New Era)

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Gemenebest van Staten
Persemakmuran Negara
Flag of the Dutch Commonwealth of States
Dutch Empire preWWII

Map of territories of the Commonwealth of States

Headquarters Secretariat Rotterdam (Netherlands)
Head of state Queen of the Netherlands
Type of government Federal Parliamentary Monarchy
Member countries Netherlands, Federation of the East Indies, Netherlands Antilles and Suriname
Official language Dutch
Coofficial regional languages Indonesia, Javanese, Papiamento and Sranan Tongo
Area n/a
Population n/a
Establishment 1933
Currencies Netherlands guilder, Netherlands Indies guilder, Netherlands Antillean guilder and Surinamese guilder
Accounting Unit IMU guilder (IMUƒ)

Commonwealth of States (Dutch: Gemenebest van Staten, Indonesia: Persemakmuran Negara) refers to the political and economical association of the territories of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Origins Commonwealth of States

After the establishment of the Federation of the East Indies in 1928, it came to consideration of the dutch political parties and business circles to draw a possible new relationship with the rest of the colonies in the Caribbean and the Americas. Has a founding member of the League of Nations, the Netherlands had proclaimed the need to end colonial system or at least reform it so the inhabitants could be consulted in their internal affairs. However this contradicted the need of resources and markets in benefit of the homeland and transnational companies. The tariff barrier the American Republic had built made economic expansion a necessity.

The constitutional framework of the East Indies could not be transplanted to the rest of the territories. The immediate independence was discarded due to fragility of the future new nations and ethnic clashes. However the colonies of the Caribbean and the Americas where to too small, too dependent economically on the metropolis and defenseless.

The experience of the East Indies marked the way for negotiations. A governmental commission was formed to analyze and recommend steps of action in 1930. Its conclusion where forwarded in 1931 to the Staten-Generalen. After the crisis of the Statuut for the East Indies, even the most conservative political groups had agreed on the need of a new relationship. The old days of colonial administration, at least in the Netherlands where over and the need to consider the former colonies has partners gave in.

Rapidly in 1933 it was approved the Charter of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Commonwealth of States (Statuut voor het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden en het Gemenebest van Staten). The Charter was signed the 15 December of 1933, by Queen Wilhelmina. This date was afterwards declared has Koninkrijksdag. After its approval by the Federal Assembly of the East Indies (1933) and the decrees granting Basic Laws to Netherlands Antilles (1934) and Suriname (1934) the Commonwealth came into force.

Organization of the Commonwealth of States

The sovereign and Head of State of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Commonwealth of States resides in the House of Orange-Nassau. It establishes the Netherlands, has senior partner that is responsible for the defense, foreign affairs, common customs and economic regulations, citizenship, constitutional revision of the member states and other matters that may be declared to be Commonwealth affairs in consultation.

The Charter does not specify its duration nor the right to leave it unilaterally. It is assumed that the Charter creates a perpetual union. Each state has autonomy in administering its internal affairs as prescribed in their individual constitutions, charters (Statuut) or basic laws (Staatsregeling). It establishes the freedom of movement to all inhabitants of the Commonwealth.

The Netherlands, East Indies, Netherlands Antilles and Suriname, participate in the overall Commonwealth structures (Summit, Council of Minister of the Commonwealth, Supreme Court and Secretariat). The common affairs are economic and cultural relations and monetary policy.

Once a year there is a Summit of the chiefs of government of the four states to coordinate, plan and discuss common affairs.

Ministers Plenipotentiary (gevolmachtigd minister) for the East Indies (Indonesia), Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles are named by their respective governments. They are based in the Netherlands and have the right and duty to participate in joint Dutch cabinet meetings when it discusses affairs that are applied to the Kingdom as a whole, when these affairs pertained directly to East Indies, Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles. It this case it statutorily acts as the Council of Ministers of the Commonwealth.

The right of appeal to the Supreme Court of the Netherlands that is elevated to status of Supreme Court of the Commonwealth.

A Secretariat of the Commonwealth is in charge of coordinating the relations and the common affairs and structures. Each member state designates members to the Directive or Executive Council of associated institutions.

Intergovernmental and associated institutions and organizations

  • Radio Netherlands Worldwide (RNW, short for Radio Nederland Wereldomroep in Dutch) created in 1928 has the Dutch international broadcaster in replacement of the newly independent NIROM. In 1933 it changed its status to public broadcaster of the Community of States. It is funded by the Secretariat and member states. Broadcast are made in Dutch, Indonesian, English, Spanish, Afrikaans and Papiamento.
  • Nederlandse Taalunie (Dutch Language Union) research institution and linguistic authority of the Standard Dutch (Standaardnederlands or Algemeen Nederlands, often abbreviated to AN)
  • Instituut van Muntunie (Institute for Monetary Union) created in 1932. The INU is the currency board of the Commonwealth and is also in is in charge of promoting internal trade, coordinate actions of central and supervise banking activities. It also manages the accounting unit of the Unio, the IMU guilder (IMUƒ).

Member states

Characteristics of member states and territories:

Member state Capital Area (km2) Population Main languages Currency
Flag of the Netherlands Netherlands Amsterdam 41,526 Dutch Dutch guilder (ƒ)
Flag of the Federation of the East Indies Federation of the East Indies (Indonesia) Batavia (Jakarta) 1,938,314 Dutch, Indonesian and Javanese Netherlands Indies guilder (NIƒ)
Flag of the Netherlands Antilles (1959-1986) Netherlands Antilles (formerly know has Dutch West Indies) Willemstad 980 Dutch, Papiamento and English Netherlands Antillean guilder (NAƒ)
Flag of Suriname Suriname (formerly know has Netherlands Guyana, Netherlands Guiana or Dutch Guiana) Paramaribo 163,821 Dutch and Sranan Tongo Surinamese guilder (Sƒ)

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