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June 27, 2019 - Medellin, Colombia

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• Mr Chairman,
• Secretary-General and Assistant Secretary General
• Excellencies,
• Good afternoon.

Mr. Chairman, I join those who have spoken before me in congratulating you on your assumption of this important role of guiding our deliberations during this 49th Session of the General Assembly.

I also wish, on behalf of the Jamaican delegation, to express our sincere appreciation to the Government and people of Colombia for the warm welcome and wonderful hospitality that have been placed at our disposal in your beautiful city of Medellin.

Mr. Chairman,

We meet at a time when our hemisphere is facing unfamiliar realities borne of rapidly evolving hemispheric and global dynamics, compounded by the increasingly difficult struggle to preserve the gains we have made over the last seven decades in the areas of Democracy, Human Rights, Security and Development.
Indeed, we are even less comforted, as we witness the increasing burden on the Inter-American systems, particularly so within the context of the multilateral agenda. We must now develop new strategies and chart new courses to ensure our survival as independent nation states and as an organization. For this reason, Mr. Chairman, and in particular for small states who rely on the multilateral system for a voice at the tables where efforts are made to confront the challenges of our times, the theme for this General Assembly: Innovating to Strengthen Multilateralism in the Hemisphere” is most fitting.

Mr. Chairman,

If the OAS is to rise above the challenges that it is both experiencing and facing, Member States must recommit to the process of multilateralism in the hemisphere, towards the attainment of practical solutions in the areas of : climate change, extremism, trans-national organized crime and the illegal trade in small arms and light weapons, narco-trafficking, migration and political instability. These issues fall within our four pillars, but are multidimensional, and therefore require an equally multidimensional approach.

Mr Chairman,
Unity is critical to the process of multilateralism. For this reason, the OAS must, and I underscore – must, strive towards arriving at consensus in its decision making processes or continue to risk alienation and division in the membership, which it represents.

As we seek to move forward, in this regard, my delegation welcomes the efforts being made to advance the Reform Process of the Organization. This, we believe, is of paramount importance to all Member States. If this process is to be truly impactful however, it is imperative that it be inclusive and holistic.

Mr. Chairman,
The matter of the financial situation of the Organization is also a pressing issue that threatens its stability and reliability. Jamaica believes that it is incumbent on all Member States to demonstrate our commitment to the OAS not only through enhanced political will, but by upholding our obligations under the Charter and relevant resolutions, to pay our assessed contributions.

As it relates to the Budget for the biennium 2020/2021, Jamaica is pleased that Member States were able to reach a consensus ahead of the General Assembly. At the same time however, we are concerned about the fiscal uncertainty reflected therein, which has gradually worsened over the years.

A responsive OAS requires agile and modern budget methodologies and tools. It is our hope that the discussions on financial reforms will prioritize the principles of sustainability, accountability, efficiency, and transparency. These principles will be crucial if we are to meet our common goals under the four pillars, and in particular, the pillars of Security and Development, which are crucial to the countries of the Caribbean. Both these areas we believe, have historically been underfunded and under-resourced, notwithstanding the reality that people who are under-developed and insecure / unsafe, are less likely to be aware of, or to be able to assert their human rights, or to secure sustainable democracy.

Mr. Chairman,
While we note the importance of reform, it is also important to celebrate the many achievements of this Organization. It is a credit to the hemisphere that the OAS is the world’s oldest regional body, and that it is the only Organization which brings together the Caribbean, Latin American and North American States to discuss common inter-linking challenges. Through this forum, Jamaica and other Member States have been afforded the opportunity to inter alia, establish and strengthen democratic institutions within our respective states, and have implemented wide-ranging programmes that have assisted in advancing our respective socioeconomic agenda. There have also been continued opportunities for technology exchanges, technology transfer and the sharing of experiences in different fields. The CIDI presentation this morning spoke for itself as one single example.

As Jamaica seeks to build a new, improved society and an economy built around our sustainable growth agenda, pressing toward achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as our own Vision 2030 objectives, we applaud the OAS as an important partner and facilitator in our journey. It is because of our belief in the organization that we also feel so strongly about the need for us all to work at ensuring its strength and sustainability.

As a signal of our intent, and in partnership with the OAS, I am also honoured to inform that Jamaica, as chair of the Energy Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA), remains on track to host the Fourth Ministerial Meeting of the ECPA from the 27th to 28th February 2020. This Partnership and the critical issues discussed within its forum, namely energy security, resilience and of course, investment opportunities, are of paramount importance to the countries of the partnership. We are committed to hosting a successful event, which will include other principal partners, including the Inter-American Development bank and the World Bank. We look forward to welcoming you all to our shores in 2020.

Mr. Chairman,
Human Rights are of tremendous importance to the Government of Jamaica. We believe that development and human rights are inextricably linked. And so, it was our pleasure to have hosted the 172nd Period of Sessions of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission (IACHR), in this sixtieth (60th) year of its existence, for the first time, in the Caribbean.

I take this opportunity to congratulate the Commission on the attainment of its Sixtieth Anniversary, the fiftieth (50th) Anniversary of the Adoption of the American Convention on Human Rights and the Fortieth (40th) Anniversary of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

Amid our congratulations, we must not lose sight of the grave humanitarian situation and constitutional crisis in Venezuela. We are deeply concerned about the millions of persons who have fled circumstances in which many more millions still live.

We are also concerned about the reports of human rights violations in Nicaragua. We are encouraged by recent attempts to find solutions to the impasse but there is significant work to be done so we urge the Government of Nicaragua to urgently fulfil the commitments made to this Body last year.

I urge both countries and the relevant parties to work with the OAS and through other trust building mechanisms, to continue efforts to identify pathways to a sustainable solution.

Mr Chairman, I conclude as I began, about the reform of the OAS. It is the hope of my delegation, that this process which we are undergoing, will reflect that the OAS will indeed “Innovate to Strengthen Multilateralism in the Hemisphere”. Mr. Chairman, I share one of my favourite quotes from one of our national heroes, The Rt. Excellent Marcus Mosiah Garvey, “the ends you serve that are selfish will take you no further than yourselves, but the ends you serve that are for all, in common, will take you into eternity”. I implore us to always remember that we, the Member States, represent the people of our countries and region. Let us work together to secure their peace and prosperity in common. Let us work for the OAS’ continued viability and relevance in the hemisphere – Let us secure its legacy into eternity.

I thank you