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The Ombudsman

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Rachnilda J.A. Arduin, aka Nilda Arduin, was born and raised in Curaçao.

In 1974 she graduated from the Pedagogical Institute in Curaçao as a fully qualified teacher; continued her education while teaching, and subsequently obtained teaching Degrees for the Dutch language and Biology.

From 1983-1988 she studied Law at both the University of the Netherlands Antilles (UNA) and the "Vrije Universiteit" in Amsterdam, obtaining her Master's Degree from the UNA in 1988, as well as a certificate in American Law from the University of Florida. In 1993 Dr. Arduin became the first Antillean female, as well as the first graduate of the UNA to obtain a Doctor of Law Degree, which title she defended at the "Vrije Universiteit" in Amsterdam, The Netherlands with a thesis on "International Timesharing". Her dissertation, a comparative study of ten jurisdictions, became the leading work on the legal aspects of Timesharing in Europe and beyond.

Her work as a scholar, expertise on real estate and international Timesharing provided her opportunities to not only serve the Antillean community, but also governments and clients globally. She practiced law from 1988 until 2010 when she became the first Ombudsman of Sint Maarten. As an educator and a lawyer, she functioned as student counselor at University level, lectured at various Universities both at home and abroad.

Among the various research papers are many essays and articles on constitutional issues authored by Dr. Arduin, among which “Fifty Years ‘Statuut’: Where do we go from here”, a historical review of the relationship of the Dutch Caribbean islands with the Netherlands, published in 2005; "The Constitution of Sint Maarten Made Simple" , a booklet published in 2010, making the Constitution understandable and accessible to the general public.  

Some other functions held by Dr. Arduin are: Director of the Latin American and Caribbean Region on the Board of the International Ombudsman Institute (November 2012- present), President of the Supervisory Board of Foundation Cadaster and Mortgages Sint Maarten (1999 – 2005); Officer National UNESCO Committee Netherlands Antilles (1996 – 2001); Commissioner Antelecom/Antillian Telecommunication Company (1996 – 1998); Chairperson Timeshare Advisory Council Sint Maarten (1995 – 1999). She has served as the first - and only - female Dean of the Bar Association on Sint Maarten (1998 – 2000).

Dr. Arduin is of the opinion that everybody should know the basic principles of law. She is the designer, producer, and has been for nine years the Host of "The Law in Focus", a weekly television program presenting legal issues of general interest to the public, aired on the various islands of the former Netherlands Antilles and French Saint Martin. For twenty years Dr. Arduin co-hosted Election Watch, a well rated program throughout the Netherlands Antilles, hosting the live broadcast of election results.

As the first National Ombudsman of Sint Maarten she holds this position since October 10, 2010 when Sint Maarten acquired an autonomous status within the Kingdom of The Netherlands, and is charged by the Constitution with investigating conduct of Government and Government entities with public authority. Investigations are initiated through complaints filed by citizens, or on her own initiative. As Ombudsman she is also the Guardian of the Constitution, authorized to challenge a law, approved by Parliament and ratified by the Government of Sint Maarten, by presenting same to the Constitutional Court for constitutional review. This task and authority is unique within the Dutch Kingdom. History was made within the Dutch Kingdom when Dr. Arduin on January 23, 2013 presented her first petition to the Constitutional Court for constitutional review.

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