Mr. Jerome Thomas, Acting UN Resident Coordinator
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is indeed an honour for me to deliver these remarks on the occasion of the United Nations Day, which was commemorated around the world on 24th October.
The commemoration of UN Day this year is particularly significant given that Jamaica’s 50th anniversary as a member of the United Nations coincides with our 50th anniversary as a nation. This allows us a moment of reflection on our engagement with the United Nations over the past 50 years and encourages us to look towards the future and our interaction with the UN system both at the national and multilateral levels. This is with a view to ensuring that the Organization not only remains true to its mandate but that it is able to address new and emerging challenges to peace and security and economic and social development in the 21st Century.
Jamaica joined the United Nations on 18th September 1962. Over the past fifty years we have played an active part in advancing the aims and objectives of the Organisation. We proposed in 1963, that the year 1968 be designated the International Year for Human Rights to mark the 20th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration for Human Rights. We served on two occasions as members of the UN Security Council and as the Chairman of the Group of 77 and China. We were also at the forefront of the international campaign against apartheid in South Africa during the decades when that subject was on the UN agenda.
We also supported the liberation struggles in Angola, Namibia and Mozambique, as part of our steadfast opposition to racism and racial discrimination in Southern Africa. Jamaica also played a lead role in calling for a New International Economic Order following the dramatic rise in oil prices in the 1970s which precipitated an economic crisis. Today, we lead the charge in calling for the international community to give special attention to the needs of small, vulnerable and Highly Indebted Middle Income countries, maintaining that such a classification deprives many countries, including Jamaica, from accessing concessionary financing and other measures that would help promote our sustainable development.
In addition to our active engagement at the UN, a number of Jamaicans have made sterling contributions to the work of the Organization, many of whom are featured in the Exhibition mounted here under the theme, The UN and Jamaica: The next 50 years.
At the national level, we are particularly pleased with the partnership between Jamaica and the United Nations Country Team headed by Dr. Arun Kashyap. I wish to place on record the appreciation of the Government of Jamaica for the technical assistance and development support that we have received from the UN and its specialised agencies over the years. We have forged a rewarding partnership which has redounded to our benefit in several areas of national endeavour.
We look forward to strengthening this partnership, as we work collectively towards advancing the country’s economic and social goals. It is our hope that our collaboration will continue to take into account the areas of priority identified by the Government of Jamaica, including poverty eradication, HIV/AIDs and the NCDs epidemic, the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons and its nexus with the illegal drug trade, as well as gender equality and the rights of children and women.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The UN remains the premier Institution for tackling global issues of common concern to all countries, big and small, rich and poor. We will, therefore, continue to call for and support efforts at the multilateral level aimed at revitalizing and reforming the Organization so that it is more representative of the current global order and better able to carry out its mandate in an effective and efficient manner. The United Nations must remain more responsive to the needs of its constituents. I wish to place on record Jamaica’s unswerving commitment to multilateralism and to the UN’s central role in an equitable, democratic and principled multilateral process.
As I mentioned above, we have mounted an exhibition in our lobby to commemorate UN Day. I thank the staff of the UN agencies and of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade for contributing to the Exhibition and I take great pleasure in officially launching the Exhibition, which bears the name: “Jamaica and the United Nations, the next fifty years”.
I invite you to spend a few moments to visit the display booths and be enlightened about the good relations between Jamaica and the United Nations.
In closing, allow me to thank you all for joining us for this event and I wish for you a productive day.