Speech

Jamaica is pleased to join member countries of the Commonwealth located across the world in commemorating Commonwealth Day, once again. This year we do so under the theme “Delivering A Common Future: Connecting, Innovating, Transforming”.

The Commonwealth family of nations represents a rich cultural diversity of islands and landlocked states as well as developed and developing countries, but all committed to the same core set of values: democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Moreover, through its institutional documents, programmes and policies, the Commonwealth promotes mutual understanding and respect for different cultures, while rejecting intolerance, prejudice and racism.

It is for this reason that the Commonwealth constitutes such a testament to its core principle of inclusiveness which has redounded to the benefit of many Small Island Developing States (SIDS) including Jamaica. Of the 54 Commonwealth’s member states, 32 countries are considered small states and the Organization’s role in championing the cause of small and vulnerable states has undoubtedly, been seminal. Taking us all into the Future will certainly require Connections, Innovation and Transformation.

The Commonwealth has worked assiduously to raise global awareness about the vulnerabilities and development needs of these states, while facilitating the creation of partnerships that can deliver needed solutions. It remains at the forefront of policy research and global advocacy to assist small states to build resilience, access financing, alleviate debt burdens and devise measures to respond to natural disasters and the impacts of climate change.
The Commonwealth’s role in the protection of the interests of small states is underpinned by a recognition that the Organisation must serve all its members, especially its most vulnerable. It is this same principle that guides the policies of the Government of Jamaica as it seeks to promote and protect the welfare of all its citizens, regardless of colour, creed or class. Furthermore, it is incumbent upon all citizens of this great nation to continue to promote a just and inclusive society based on the principles of tolerance, respect and mutual understanding.

Jamaica’s commitment to the Commonwealth remains unswerving and we look forward to reconnecting with all our partners at the next meeting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM2020) in June in Kigali, Rwanda where we anticipate a great forward-looking process of engagement on the theme to ensure that our Organisation is ready to take on the opportunities presented by this new decade of innovation and transformation.

On this Commonwealth Day, I invite you to partner with us and play your part in promoting an inclusive society, as we work towards eradicating social and economic inequality, and empowering all Jamaicans to live their fullest potential.

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