Mr. President,
I take this opportunity to inform the Senate of Jamaica’s recent participation in the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA77). Between 19th and 24th September, I attended the High-Level Week of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), which was held at the UN Headquarters in New York, also supporting the Prime Minister, the Most Honourable Andrew Holness, during his participation as Head of Delegation.
As the body which most concretely expresses the concept of multilateralism, Jamaica views its annual participation in the meetings of the United Nations General Assembly as an imperative in the conduct of its foreign policy. In this forum, we are able to advance positions on current and critical issues of national and global relevance through our policy statement, engage in discussions at the bilateral and regional levels and carry out special initiatives in the promotion of economic, trade and investment objectives.
For Jamaica, the 77th session carried particular significance: like the rest of the world, we are emerging from the pandemic of over two years, only to be thrust into the stranglehold of the food and energy crises spawned by the war in Ukraine. The ever-present reality of a climate crisis, our vulnerabilities as a small island developing country and the social and economic challenges faced at home found common cause with other members of the international community with whom Jamaica continues to collaborate at the United Nations, in search of viable solutions. 
On a positive note, our participation this year was especially meaningful, in light of the commemoration of Jamaica’s 60th year as an Independent nation, and also as a member of the United Nations (UN) to which we were admitted on 18th September 1962.
The General Debate
Mr. President,
At the start of the 77th session, Ambassador Csaba Kőrösi of Hungary was elected President of the General Assembly with Jamaica serving as one of twenty-one (21) Vice Presidents – one of the three (3) representatives from the Latin American and Caribbean region. It was therefore my distinct honour to preside over a segment of the proceedings of the UNGA on Tuesday, 20th September 2022. 
The policy statements made in the General Debate were delivered under the theme: “A Watershed Moment: Transformative Solutions to Interlocking Challenges”. In so doing, Member States recognized the complex nature and interconnectedness of current global challenges, including the ongoing energy and food crises, climate change and the ongoing conflict in Europe. It was widely acknowledged that all of these challenges require unity and cooperation in the search for innovative and transformative solutions. 
Jamaica’s National Policy Statement
The Prime Minister delivered Jamaica’s policy statement on 22nd September 2022 during which he outlined the “unprecedented overlapping crises – the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, inflation, debt, energy and food insecurity, and natural disasters fueled by climate change.” He also called for acknowledgement of the differentiated needs and vulnerability of all UN members, with specific mention of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Middle-Income Countries (MICs) which are particularly vulnerable to climate shocks and external economic shocks. 
Prime Minister Holness championed the need for the availability and access to development finance – a matter on which Jamaica has been a strong advocate for years. In fact, early in our tenure in office we started to call for the international financial architecture to be aligned with the SDGs if the world was to attain its agreed targets [I recall having my first meeting with the DSG on this issue when it sounded quite revolutionary].  It was a matter which gained traction together with related policy proposals developed during our co-chairmanship of the Financing for Development in the Era of Covid and Beyond Initiative starting in 2020. It has since been incorporated in the Secretary-General’s Common Agenda which has mainstreamed within the multilateral system, consideration of this and other policy initiatives arising therefrom, deemed supportive of global recovery and development. On a related matter, PM Holness also reiterated support for the work of the High-Level Panel developing the Multi-Dimensional Vulnerability Index (MVI). In the area of security, of great national importance and on an issue of increasing concern to countries in CARICOM, the Prime Minister also called for war on guns as he sought to bring attention to the need for source countries to curb the supply of arms and ammunition.
Also of note was Jamaica’s proposal of the official designation of February 17th annually as Global Tourism Resilience Day.  In that regard, the Prime Minister encouraged the global community to work with us towards commemorating the first Global Tourism Resilience Day in 2023. This annual commemoration would serve to encourage a consistent examination of resilience-building in the tourism sector, in the face of persistent global disruptions to sustainable tourism and sustainable development.  The formal adoption of this initiative by the General Assembly, will be pursued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade through our Permanent Mission in New York.  
The Ocean Panel Leaders Meeting
In furtherance of Jamaica’s interest in ocean affairs, and at the invitation of the Prime Ministers of Norway and Palau as Co-Chairs of the High-Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, the Prime Minister, who is a founding member, participated in the Ocean Panel Leaders Meeting. In his address, Prime Minister Holness spoke to the deleterious impact of invasive species that threaten our food security and the tourism product. He also called for promoting the protection of our oceans while harnessing its capacity in sustainable ways. 
Bilateral Engagements
The UN is the mecca for the pursuit of bilateral contacts, particularly during High Level Week, which sees participation of leaders from every region of the world. Jamaica used the opportunity to conduct several bilateral meetings. Prime Minister Holness held fruitful bilateral talks with the newly elected President of Kenya, His Excellency Dr. William Ruto and the President of Slovenia, His Excellency Mr. Borut Pahor. These exchanges have served to strengthen Jamaica’s relations with both countries. 
At the level of Foreign Ministers, I met with colleagues from Costa Rica, Greece, Latvia, Luxembourg, Morocco, Portugal, and Ukraine with whom I shared perspectives on challenges affecting small states, pandemic recovery, the graduation of Middle-income countries, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the combined food, energy and inflation crises. We also explored avenues through which we could strengthen bilateral and multilateral cooperation.
Two additional highlights of our participation in High-Level Week were the formal establishment by Jamaica, of diplomatic relations with the Republic of Liberia and the Republic of the Marshall Islands. I co-signed Joint Communiques with the Foreign Minister of Liberia, His Excellency Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemaya, Sr. on 22nd September 2022 and with Her Excellency Kitlang Kabua of the Marshall Islands on 23rd September 2022. Jamaica certainly looks forward to mutually beneficial relations with both these countries as we seek to increase formal relations with countries with which we have shared developmental challenges and goals.
I am proud that the Ministry of Foreign of Affairs and Foreign Trade now manages formal diplomatic relations with 174 nations, having through concerted efforts, increased this number by 9 since having taken office in 2016.
I was also happy to meet with the Prime Minister of Sint Maarten, the Hon. Silveria Jacobs, with whom I held discussions on the sustainable development goals (SDGs), issues affecting small-island developing states (SIDS) and women in leadership, as a follow-up to another meeting we held earlier this year.
Other Activities
In order to ensure maximum coverage of issues and partnerships, I also participated in the following meetings on the margins of High Level week: 
⦁ The opening of the Transforming Education Summit (TES), held on 19th September, along with the Honourable Fayval Williams, Minister of Education and Youth.
⦁ CELAC-ACS Foreign Ministers Meeting held on 19th September, under the Chairmanship of Argentina and Guatemala. Jamaica supports the strengthening of such cooperation mechanisms which provide another forum in which to address issues of concern to the region.
⦁ High-Level Dialogue on Preventing Violence against Children hosted by the Foreign Minister of Luxembourg, H.E. Jean Asselborn, on 20th September. The discussion, which explored approaches to ending violence against children, was moderated by the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, Dr. Najat M’Jid, who will be visiting Jamaica in October. The Foreign Ministers of Colombia, Cape Verde, Iceland, and Morocco also participated, in addition to senior representatives from Costa Rica and the Philippines.
⦁ 15th Ministerial Meeting of the Global Governance Group (3G) on 21st September, hosted by the Foreign Minister of Singapore. The 3G provides a conduit through which small and medium-sized countries channel advocacy on issues of concern to the G20, which is made up of the world’s largest economies. The G20 accounts for 90% of global GNP, 80% of global trade and two-thirds of the world’s population. During the engagement with the G20 Troika members – Italy, Indonesia and India, I highlighted the need for greater and better climate and development financing and closing the digital divide.
⦁ 3rd Annual Ministerial Meeting of the Group of Friends of Universal Health Coverage and Global Health on 21st September.  I shared Jamaica’s thoughts and actions on primary health care and coverage which are well aligned with global guidance to build health resilience across the world. I also reiterated our call for the reform of the international financial architecture to create for highly indebted Middle Income Countries and SIDS, the fiscal space to address issues of debt repayment and to channel well-needed investments into healthcare.
⦁ 46th Ministerial Meeting of the G77 which was chaired by the Foreign Minister of Pakistan and attended by the UN Secretary-General and the President of the General Assembly. At the meeting, I congratulated Cuba on their election to assume the chair in 2023, and called for international financial institutions to support highly indebted developing countries to access debt relief, concessional financing and grants. Jamaica is a founding member of the G77 and remains committed to enhancing South-South cooperation.
⦁ Special Meeting of the CARICOM Foreign Ministers (COFCOR) on 22nd September 2022, which addressed current and developing global issues, including the situation in Haiti and the situation in Ukraine. I presented on issues related to Financing for Development.
⦁ CARICOM-India Foreign Ministers Meeting on 23rd September 2022, which was convened by India to celebrate its 75 years of active cooperation at the UN. The issues discussed included steps to enhance South-South cooperation in areas such as technology, health, and development, in addition to discussions on climate change and food security.
⦁ COVID-19 Global Action Plan Ministerial on 23rd September 2022, which was co-hosted by the USA, Spain, Botswana and Bangladesh. Foreign Ministers were invited to discuss how to exit the acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic and to better prepare for future pandemics. As the only representative of a small island developing state, I posited that not only do we have to ensure that the world has effective mechanisms to facilitate affordable vaccines by all, but that resilience against future health crises depends on flexible development financing that will allow for highly indebted, low and middle income countries to build up effective healthcare systems. 
⦁ I am pleased to report that I also met with the UN Secretary General, His Excellency Antonio Guterres, whom I assured of Jamaica’s strong commitment to the UN and the multilateral system. We had good discussions on the important issues of climate action, financing for development, SDGs, SIDS and youth empowerment.  IT was a wonderful opportunity to congratulate the Secretary General on the establishment of the new Youth Office within his office.  We also expressed appreciation to the former PGA, the Foreign Minister of the Maldives, who marshalled this process through the General Assembly.
Mr. President, 
The very active participation of Jamaica during this year’s High-Level Week reflects the depth and extent of the matters of concern to our nation which needed to be brought to international attention, together with our perspectives on global matters which impact our national development goals. Building relationships that work to advance our development priorities is a major objective of the Foreign Ministry.  It is a continuous process which supports the application of Foreign Policy in this very unpredictable global environment.  
Continued engagement of the delegation over the coming months will continue the work of the General Assembly, and I take this opportunity to thank our dedicated teams, in Kingston and at the Permanent Mission in New York, who keep the Jamaica flag flying high. Over the past sixty years, we have accomplished much on the international stage and our efforts remain directed towards maintaining this trajectory of high performance and impact.
I thank you.


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