Public body (Netherlands)

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In the Netherlands, the term public body (a literal translation from the Dutch term openbaar lichaam) is the general denomination for administrative divisions within the Dutch state, such as the central government, a province, a municipality or a water board. These types of political entities are defined by the Constitution of the Netherlands.[1]

In addition, Article 134 of the constitution provides for the definition of other public bodies by law.[1] Such bodies can be professionally oriented, like the Dutch Order of Advocates (Dutch: Nederlandse Orde van Advocaten), or be constituted to perform functions in a specific region. This means that the term public body is sometimes used to indicate a special or irregular type of public body (without a specifically defined name), which can also be an administrative division or a certain other type of governmental organisation.

Caribbean Netherlands[edit]

The three islands Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba became public bodies of the Netherlands proper on 10 October 2010, but are not part of any province. Since 2017 they are public bodies of a special constitutional category, Caribbean public bodies. Collectively they are officially known as Caribbean Netherlands (Dutch: Caribisch Nederland).[2] Although part of the Netherlands, these special municipalities (as they are also called) remained overseas territories[3] of the European Union until 2015.[4]

In the absence of a King's Commissioner the Islands have a joint "Kingdom Representative" and so the official Dutch translation for the Rijksvertegenwoordiger voor de openbare lichamen Bonaire, Sint Eustatius en Saba, who has an office on each of the Islands. In 2011, Wilbert Stolte, a member of the conservative CDA party and former municipal politician in The Hague, was appointed to hold this office for six years.

Flag Arms Special municipality Capital Lieutenant Governor Area(km2)[5] Population[6] Density (per km2)
Flag of Bonaire
Coat of arms of Bonaire
Bonaire (Papiamento: Boneiru) Kralendijk Edison Rijna 294 15,414 52
Flag of Sint Eustatius
Coat of arms of Sint Eustatius
Sint Eustatius Oranjestad Marnix van Rij 21 3,300 157
Flag of Saba
Coat of arms of Saba
Saba The Bottom Jonathan Johnson 13 2,000 154

Other examples[edit]

Another notable example of an administrative division merely denoted as "public body" is Rijnmond (Dutch: openbaar lichaam Rijnmond), which existed from 1964 to 1986.[7]

On a regional level, municipalities, provinces, water boards and the Caribbean public bodies can constitute internal or umbrella public bodies, as defined by the law on common arrangements (Dutch: wet gemeenschappelijke regelingen). Examples of such bodies include:

  • Plus regions/city regions (Dutch: Plusregio's/stadsregio's): Organisations of urbanised regions, e.g. the plus regions "Samenwerkingsverband Regio Eindhoven", "Parkstad Limburg".
  • Safety regions (Dutch: veiligheidsregio's): Organisations coordinating disaster management, fire fighting etc.
  • Social services organisations covering several municipalities.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Grondwet (Constitution)". Dutch Government. Retrieved 3 January 2011.
  2. ^ "31.954, Wet openbare lichamen Bonaire, Sint Eustatius en Saba" (in Dutch). Eerste kamer der Staten-Generaal. Retrieved 2010-10-15. De openbare lichamen vallen rechtstreeks onder het Rijk omdat zij geen deel uitmaken van een provincie. (The public bodies (...), because they are not part of a Province).
  3. ^ "Official Journal of the European Union – C 83". EUR-Lex. 30 March 2010. Retrieved 27 June 2011.
  4. ^ "Regels met betrekking tot de openbare lichamen Bonaire, Sint Eustatius en Saba (Wet openbare lichamen Bonaire, Sint Eustatius en Saba); Verslag" (in Dutch). 12 October 2009. Retrieved 27 June 2011.
  5. ^ "Regionale Kerncijfers Nederland" (in Dutch). Statistics Netherlands. 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-13.
  6. ^ "Bevolking per regio naar leeftijd, geslacht en burgerlijke staat" (in Dutch). Statistics Netherlands. 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-13.
  7. ^ "Openbaar Lichaam Rijnmond". National Archives of the Netherlands (in Dutch). Retrieved 8 November 2018.