Fern White-Hilsenrath, Gleaner Writer
UN Headquarters, New York:Against the background of a monument to honour the victims of the transatlantic slave trade, scheduled to be built on the grounds of the United Nations (UN) Headquarters in New York City next year, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller has urged global leaders to give serious consideration to making restitution to countries which were ravaged by the trade.
Simpson Miller made the call during her presentation at yesterday's session of the UN General Assembly as she capped a full week of bilateral and multilateral engagements.
The issue of reparations for slavery has been an important talking point for pan-Africanists for many decades, with the Rastafarian community using every opportunity to keep the issue in the spotlight.
"Jamaica supports the call for an international discussion in a non-confrontational manner on the question of reparations," Simpson Miller said, while encouraging the international community to continue to provide financial support for erecting the monument, which she called an important initiative.
Earlier last week, Simpson Miller joined UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in unveiling a model for the monument to be built in time for next year's sessions of the General Assembly.
END EMBARGO AGAINST CUBA
The prime minister also used her time in the international spotlight to repeat Jamaica's call for an end to the economic embargo against Cuba.
"The trade and economic embargo against our neighbour, Cuba, has caused untold hardships to its people. It has no place in the 21st century. We reiterate our call for an end to the embargo against Cuba and extraterritorial measures against Third World countries," she said.
Turning to the issue of global peace and security, Simpson Miller expressed heartfelt regret for the tragic events in Nairobi, Kenya, which left at least 72 dead.
"Transnational organised criminal enterprise wreaks havoc on economies and challenge the capacity of states to deal with these threats. Increased collaboration is necessary in confronting such threats," she said.
"Jamaica welcomes the recent opening for signature of the landmark Arms Treaty in June," she said, emphasising that it was just one of the steps that the international community must make towards defeating terrorism.
Simpson Miller told the assembly of world leaders that Jamaica was currently undertaking efforts towards ratification of the Arms Treaty.
Also on the prime minister's list of priorities to put before the UN is the current conflict in Syria.
"We remain deeply concerned about the suffering of the people in Syria and join the international community in condemning the use of chemical weapons," she said, while welcoming what she called positive steps by the UN Security Council which on Friday voted to secure and destroy Syria's chemical weapons stockpile, a move which is seen as a landmark decision aimed at removing poison gas as a tool of war in the escalating two-and-a-half-year struggle.
"Jamaica remains firmly committed to a just, lasting and peaceful solution in the Middle East," she said.