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Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. A.J. Nicholson, has expressed the need for students to be educated about the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and Jamaica’s role in the framing of the treaty.

He said his Ministry is willing to partner with the Education Ministry on an initiative, which will raise awareness among students in schools and at teachers’ colleges, and pledged to have discussions with portfolio Minister, Rev. the Hon. Ronald Thwaites, on the matter.

“We are willing to partner with you but really, you have to carry that ball,” Senator Nicholson told officials of the Ministry of Education attending yesterday’s (Oct.11) launch of a schools’ essay competition on the Convention, held at the Foreign Ministry’s New Kingston offices.

“The persons, who are being trained to be our teachers, have to be exposed to this. They are the persons, who are going to carry the message of Jamaica’s reliance on what surrounds us, the Caribbean Sea,” he argued.

He said that young people must also be aware of the role played by several eminent Jamaicans in crafting the Convention, including late former Permanent Representative to the International Seabed Authority(ISA), Dr. the Hon Kenneth Rattray; and President, International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Judge Patrick Robinson.

“Our students must know. We are not going to be able to take the message to them, so those who are being trained to be teachers …we have to target them,” Senator Nicholson added.

The essay competition, which targets secondary level students, is being held in collaboration with the Ministry of Education under the theme: ‘Oceans for all: the world’s common heritage.’

It is part of activities to mark the 30th anniversary of the historic Opening for Signature of UNCLOS in December 1982 in Montego Bay.

The convention defines the rights and responsibilities of nations in their use of the world’s oceans.  It represents a landmark addition to international law, as it seeks to balance the interests of developed and developing countries.

One significant aspect of the treaty is the provision for the utilisation of deep seabed mineral resources for the common heritage of mankind. These resources have to be protected and utilised for the benefit of all countries, regardless of size, location, geographical characteristics or level of development

Senator Nicholson praised the work of the UNCLOS 30th anniversary planning committee under the leadership of its Chairman, Coy Roache.

Mr. Roache, will be conferred with the Order of Distinction for his contribution to the mining industry and Jamaica’s membership of UNCLOS, at the National Honours and Awards ceremony on Monday (Oct. 15) at King’s House.

“He has been a part of this venture from the very beginning. We want to thank you for the work you have been doing in bringing this forward, but your work is not finished yet,” Senator Nicholson told him.

Sponsors of the essay competition are: the ISA, Caribbean Airlines; Walkerswood Caribbean Foods Limited; W.B. Trophies Ltd; Jamaica Defence Force Coast Guard; and members of the Jamaican diaspora in New York.