Senator the Honourable Arnold J. Nicholson, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, delivered Jamaica’s address to the 69th Session of the UN General Debate at the United Nations in New York on Saturday, 27th September 2014.
The following are some of the key messages contained in the Minister’s statement.
- We live in a time of great instability and conflict. At the same time, millions of citizens face unbearable levels of hardship and endure unconscionable levels of suffering.
- This is the time to put people firmly at the centre of our development aspirations; to tackle the root causes of conflict; to create a culture of peace; and to entrench the principles of justice, equity, democracy and respect for the rule of law.
Jamaica’s Foreign Policy Principles
- Jamaica recommits to the principles of multilateralism and fidelity to the ideals enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, which are central to our efforts to secure peace and development.
International Development Agenda
- The elaboration of the Post-2015 Development Agenda provides an invaluable opportunity to address the critical challenges of poverty, inequality, global insecurity and environmental degradation and must have poverty eradication as its central focus.
- Due regard should also be given to the developmental status of each country, in particular Small Island Developing States and countries classified as middle income.
- Implementing and delivering the Post-2015 Development Agenda requires a strong focus on the means of implementation.
Outcome of Third International Conference on SIDS
- The Third International Conference on SIDS drew international attention to the unique vulnerabilities that threaten the very existence and survival of this group of countries.
- Our ability to withstand the ever-increasing risk of economic and environmental shocks requires that we forge effective partnerships with other members of the international community.
- Support for SIDS must continue beyond support for the Conference.
- Among our concerns are the full and effective integration of SIDS into the multilateral trading system; increased voice and participation in international financial institutions; the application of more relevant methods for measuring growth and representing our state of development; and increased support to enhance our resilience to natural hazards and economic shocks.
Climate Summit and upcoming UNFCCC COPs
- We welcome the outcome of the Climate Summit convened by the Secretary-General, which highlighted the importance of promoting concerted action among various stakeholders to address climate change.
- While the threats posed by climate change may be theoretical for some, it is very real for those of us who live in the Caribbean. The financial impact of hurricanes adds to the burden of the dire economic challenges that we continue to bear.
- As we prepare for the Conference of the Parties in Lima, Peru later this year, all countries must be engaged in a cooperative effort to devise an appropriate response to climate change that will result in a steep reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions.
- We also need action in accordance with the decision of the Conference of the Parties to ‘adopt a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the UNFCCC that will be applicable to all parties’.
- This is an opportune moment to evaluate the progress made in safeguarding the rights of women and children.
- All children have the right to live a life free from fear and violence. These are essential pre-requisites for the development of their full range of skills and talents.
- It is important to address the special needs of children and youth.
- We call for special attention to be paid to achieving gender equality.
- Rooting out violence against women, enhancing women’s economic empowerment and promoting their equal participation at all levels of decision making should be essential tasks.
- The heinous activity of human trafficking is a crime of global proportions, which exploits the most vulnerable among us, not the least of whom are women and children.
- Jamaica calls upon the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to provide a framework for Member States to develop a robust programme to help bring an end to this affront to human dignity and freedom.
Global Public Health
- We cannot ignore the link between our efforts to spur development and the need to safeguard the health of our people.
- The challenges to security and sustainable development posed by threats to global public health have been devastatingly illustrated by the recent outbreak of the Ebola epidemic.
- The pandemic nature of global health threats such as Ebola and HIV/AIDS, including the silent killers of Non-Communicable Diseases, require that we employ measures to combat them that are similar in intensity and urgency to those used in the fight against other global challenges.
Threats to International Peace and Security
- Jamaica is concerned that the conflicts in Syria, the Gaza Strip, Iraq, Ukraine, South Sudan and Mali pose serious threats to regional and international security. The instability in Libya, Yemen and the Central African Republic is equally troubling.
- Of even greater concern are the resulting humanitarian crises and widespread violations of human rights.
- It is undeniable that these crises are fuelled by the growing propensity to funnel and transfer conventional arms to non-state actors, including rebel groups and separatist militias. The militarization of such groups often serves to further these conflicts rather than hasten their end.
- Resolving these conflicts requires global and regional cooperation.
- It is clear also that conflict prevention must assume greater prominence. Our vision is that of a United Nations transformed into a more effective instrument for preventing conflict and securing just and peaceful settlements
- Recent events in Gaza demonstrate that the need for a lasting resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains as urgent as ever before. Jamaica believes that the cycle of violence will continue in the absence of a negotiated political settlement based on a just, lasting and comprehensive agreement that guarantees the security of Israel and recognizes the Palestinian State within internationally recognised borders.
Disarmament and Arms Control
- We reiterate our commitment to disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control.
- In the Caribbean, we are acutely aware of the pernicious impact of the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, fuelled by the dangerous nexus to the drug trade. This engenders the single greatest cause for fear and insecurity amongst our citizens.
- We are pleased that with the 50th ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty earlier this week, this historic treaty will enter into force on 25th December.
- All states, whether small or large, have a role to play in the maintenance of international peace and security. Jamaica is therefore honoured to assume the Chairmanship of the First Committee of this 69th session, which reflects our commitment to advancing the objectives of disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control.
- Jamaica is firm in its commitment to the highest standards of respect for international justice and supports the role of the Court.
- Jamaica’s nomination of Patrick Lipton Robinson as a candidate for election to the International Court of Justice demonstrates our preparedness to contribute to the work of the Court and underscores that all states regardless of size can make a contribution to the development of the rules and norms of international law.
Permanent Memorial Initiative/International Year of People of African Descent
- In 2015, we expect to erect a permanent memorial to honour the victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade.
- Member States are encouraged to contribute to the Trust Fund established to underwrite the cost of the Memorial. Only a small shortfall remains.
International Decade for People of African Descent
- Jamaica looks forward to the commencement in January 2015 of the International Decade for People of African Descent, through which the international community will undertake a range of activities to address racism, xenophobia, discrimination and prejudice, as well as systemic inequalities and underdevelopment.
- CARICOM countries believe that reparatory justice is an important element in this process.
- Jamaica reiterates its support for an end to the economic, financial and commercial embargo against Cuba, and urge all States that continue to apply such measures to repeal or invalidate these laws.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade