- Colleague Heads of State and Government,
- Secretary General,
Thank you for according me Chairman’s privilege to proceed with my Statement.
May I start by extending sincere appreciation to Dr. Patrick Gomes, for his stewardship as Secretary General, during a tenure in which he represented the Caribbean region. We thank you Secretary General for your contribution to the attainment of the goals of the ACP Group in important areas, and wish you well as you demit office early next year.
As the leadership baton passes to the Southern African region, I extend our heartiest congratulations to His Excellency Georges Rebelo Pinto Chikoti on his election as the new Secretary General of the equally newly established Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States. Ambassador, you can be assured of Jamaica’s support in the task ahead, as we engage in a process of transformation for enhanced multilateral collaboration, in support of our common development goals.
Jamaica joined the United Nations Organization on 8th September 1962, just one month after attaining our political independence. We did so, recognizing the importance of the support of an international family in tackling the myriad challenges as a new nation. Since then, we have continued to espouse the virtues of multilateralism, both in principle and in practice and have expanded our membership of international organisations and bodies.
In so doing, we have made clear our unwavering support for the tenets of and opportunities presented by multilateral cooperation. For a small country like ours, multilateralism can and does work. It is in fact the only system that allows both small and large countries to have an equal voice.
Admittedly, multilateralism is not without imperfections. Sadly, it is now under threat at the very point at which it is most needed by us – ACP States!
Our ACP Group provides an excellent framework for driving some of the transformation that we need in order to strengthen the multilateral process.
In my address to the ACP Committee of Ambassadors last year, I underscored the significant value of countries with similar constraints, working together to advocate for new approaches to common development challenges, while sharing proven, useful solutions.
Our membership of this body has afforded us significant opportunities for deepening our bilateral and regional contacts with the countries of the Group and with third Parties such as the European Union (EU).
Today, we are on the threshold of a new relationship with the EU. A successor to the Cotonou Partnership Agreement is being negotiated. We are all seeking a more mature relationship; one that will more effectively facilitate our economic and social development through implementation of Agenda 2030 and its Sustainable Development Goals.
The ACP Group seeking collective agreement and action among its six regions with its membership at various stages of development, is indisputable evidence of multilateralism at work. It is a process which we must leverage amongst ourselves.
Jamaica joins in the adoption of the Revised Georgetown Agreement and welcomes the decision for the elevation of the status of the ACP Group to that of an international organization. The Organisation of the ACP States (OACPS) is being challenged to ensure that a transformed ACP is viable, not only in name but in confronting the tasks ahead, with clear vision, creativity and determination.
Undoubtedly, one of the most acute threats to our livelihood and survival is the phenomenon of climate change. For Small Island Developing States, climate change is an existential threat which affects all national pursuits. My Government has declared this a national priority and is taking definitive steps to build resilience. We have also elevated our ambitions to ensure that fifty percent of our electricity generation will be from renewables by 2030.
More broadly, we as ACP states must remain vigilant in our ambitions to secure appropriate financing for adaptation and mitigation, within the framework of the Paris Agreement.
The Organization of ACP States must also continue its engagement with our EU partners on action to address the intractable issue of the treatment of ACP countries as non-cooperative tax jurisdictions. Additionally, in recognition of the particular vulnerabilities and challenges of some of its members, the Organisation must make use all available fora to advocate the cause of Middle-Income Countries, SIDs, Landlocked and the Least Developed Countries.
These hurdles come at a time when international trade is expected to facilitate attainment of the SDGs. Jamaica therefore, reaffirms its commitment to an inclusive, transparent, predictable and rules-based multilateral trading system, with a development-oriented WTO at its core.
It is essential that ACP states be fully engaged in the preparatory process for the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference to be held in Kazakhstan next year. We must send a strong signal that the negotiation function of the WTO is still operational and can deliver for developing countries.
Jamaica has a maritime space twenty-five times the size of its land territory. Our oceans present enormous prospects for marine territorial integrity, biodiversity and promotion of economic growth and development through the Blue Economy modality. I am pleased therefore that our Summit Declaration commits the OACPS to put its resources to sustainable use and ensure its longterm viability. However, our oceans extend beyond the borders of ACP regions and countries and we therefore call on the international community to work with us to preserve our marine environment.
To lead all of these critical efforts, we will be relying on a fit-for-purpose ACP Secretariat, capable of operating in a technology-driven, gender-sensitive global context. Our Secretariat must produce at levels comparable to other international organisations, consistent with best practices, financially secure and viable.
We commit to making multilateralism work at all levels in the new OACPS and in the interest of development for all our peoples.
I thank you.