Tue | Jan 26, 2021

Morris seeks election to UN committee to protect disabilities rights

Published:Saturday | November 28, 2020 | 12:08 AMChristopher Serju/Senior Gleaner Writer

Opposition Senator Dr Floyd Morris will have the full backing of the Jamaican Government and the entire CARICOM region on Monday when he vies for a seat on the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which oversees an international human rights treaty adopted by the United Nations in 2006.

Morris will be going up against 29 candidates competing for nine seats on the august body.

Leader of Government Business in the Senate Kamina Johnson Smith brought the matter to the attention of her colleagues yesterday, revealing that in addition to strong backing from the Holness administration, Morris’ candidacy was being fully supported by the 15-member regional body.

Morris’ election to this high-level UN body for the 2021-24 term would be a significant achievement for the English-speaking Caribbean, which has never had a representative before.

The opposition senator told his colleagues that the Government had been resolute in its support of his candidacy, singling out Johnson Smith, the foreign affairs minister, and her team for their dedication to promoting his candidacy.

“I have been in meetings with the team and you can sense their enthusiasm, you can sense the energy, and they are out there canvassing, on a daily basis, countries to ensure that come Monday, they put their support behind me, and the response thus far have been very encouraging,” the visually impaired senator said.

If he does not get the nod as an independent expert on the committee, he said, “It wouldn’t be for lack of trying or effort on the part of the Government of Jamaica because they have really put the necessary support mechanism behind me and it is really appreciated.”

Encouraging signs

Johnson Smith disclosed that following Wednesday’s virtual campaign initiative hosted by Jamaica’s permanent representative to the United Nations, the signs were encouraging.

“Senator Morris, I should tell you that we have had some indication of new support since Wednesday’s event and, therefore, we continue to press and encourage our partners internationally to support this membership. The foreign affairs team in New York has been working all of our relations and, of course, our candidature team within the international team here at headquarters. We have been reaching out to all of our partners overseas and do hope that this result in another positive result on Monday,” she said.

Senator Morris’ election would provide a significant boost for the local observance of Disabilities Awareness Week, which gets under way tomorrow.