Senator the Honourable Kamina Johnson Smith was re-appointed as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade on 7th September 2020, following her Party’s success at the General Elections held on 3rd September 2020. Senator Johnson Smith was also re-appointed Leader of Government Business in the Senate, a position she has held since 2016, concurrently with her role as Foreign Minister.
Notably, Senator Johnson Smith is Jamaica’s first female Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade and the first born after the nation’s independence. As Foreign Minister, Senator Johnson Smith has represented Jamaica and the region at numerous bilateral, regional, hemispheric and international fora. She has re-affirmed Jamaica’s commitment to multilateralism and a principle-based foreign policy, ensuring that it is pursued in alignment with Jamaica’s national development goals and the country’s role as a good global citizen.
In fulfilment of her commitment to increasing Jamaica’s influence and visibility, Minister Johnson Smith has, among other initiatives, chaired various high-level meetings and held crucial leadership posts. In her first year in office (2016 and 2017), she chaired the CARIFORUM group, and in that capacity led the opening of discussions with the UK regarding post-Brexit trade arrangements. In 2018, she served as President of the ACP Council of Ministers, presiding over the process which secured the negotiating mandate of the ACP for a post-Cotonou Agreement with the EU. In the same year, she also chaired the CARICOM Council of Foreign Ministers and was the first Jamaican Foreign Minister to be invited to G7 and G20 meetings. Her first term as Foreign Minister ended on a high note with her appointment in 2019 as President of Council of the International Seabed Authority. This was the first time Jamaica had so served, despite hosting this inter-governmental organization since 1994.
Added to these important engagements, was Minister Johnson Smith’s work with a wide range of bilateral and international development partners supporting the attainment of Jamaica’s sustainable development goals, as well as strengthening Jamaica’s contribution to important global efforts to build peace and security, foster respect for human rights, and promote a strong and fair multilateral trading system.
In pursuance of effective engagement, Minister Johnson Smith created and strengthened relations with non-traditional and traditional bi-lateral partners; oversaw the promulgation of Jamaica’s National Foreign Trade Policy and Action Plan 2017 to 2027; the creation of Jamaica’s Economic Diplomacy Programme in conjunction with Jamaica’s Promotion Agency (JAMPRO); expanded the Honorary Consular Network; hosted Diplomatic Weeks with record attendance by resident and non-resident Head of Missions accredited to Jamaica; presided over two Biennial Diaspora Conferences and convened Diaspora consultations and engagements across Continents; tabled a National Diaspora Policy as a Green Paper and established the Global Jamaica Diaspora Council and the Global Jamaica Diaspora Youth Council as tools of deeper engagement.
In her capacity as Leader of Government Business in the Senate, she led more than 115 debates leading to the passage of 69 Statutes and 48 Resolutions across Government portfolios – ranging from the establishment of States of Public Emergency to curb the country’s murder rate; the modernization of corporate, partnership and trust laws as well as intellectual property frameworks; the strengthening of laws addressing AML/CFT frameworks; Data Protection; Public Procurement; Road Safety; Building and Land Titling as well as reforms to the justice system and the fight against human trafficking. She has also made significant contributions as a member of Joint Select Committees reviewing laws related to violence against women and children, and the legal framework to establish the independence of the Central Bank.
Senator Johnson Smith is an Attorney-at-Law who worked previously in private practice and as corporate in-house counsel. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in French from The University of the West Indies (Mona), a Bachelor of Laws from The University of the West Indies (Cave Hill) and a Master of Laws in Commercial Law from the London School of Economics and Political Science. She is a graduate of the Norman Manley Law School where she was valedictorian and the recipient of awards in Legal Remedies and Advocacy. She was called to the Bar in Jamaica in 1999.
Highly committed to both public service and volunteerism, the Minister has served in various capacities in the areas of political leadership and philanthropy. Regarding the former, most recently, she served as Campaign Spokesperson and Chairperson of the Manifesto Committee of the Jamaica Labour Party during the country’s general election campaign. She has served on the Corporate Governance Committee of the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ) for six years and as a Director of the Factories Corporation of Jamaica and the Early Childhood Commission.
Minister Johnson Smith was born in St. Andrew, Jamaica and is married. She enjoys reading, yoga and jogging.
Minister Johnson Smith believes passionately that Jamaica’s best days still lie ahead and is committed to playing her part in seeing them realized.