Big questions for Jamaica on 'anti-terrorism' UN resolution

ANALYSIS

RICKEY SINGH

Saturday, October 04, 2014

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IN party politics, they say, all things are possible. And this past week two governing parties of our Caribbean Community were quite ready to demonstrate their respective surprises big time!

They are Jamaica's ruling People's National Party and Trinidad and Tobago's
United National Congress-dominated People's Partnership Administration.

The occasion was the co-sponsorship of a resolution with the United States of America last Wednesday, September 24, to condemn "violent extremism" as being carried out by jihadist combatants of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). Further, to underscore the need to prevent 'travel support' by such foreign terrorists from returning to their home bases after their terroristic exploits.

That, basically, is a summary of the resolution unanimously approved by the United Nations Security Council at UN headquarters in New York. President Barack Obama was personally involved in mobilising wider co-sponsorship support for the resolution that resulted in some quite interesting diplomatic choreography by delegations of the 193-member world body.

Finally, according to information I have received, the total support cast for the resolution was 104, but only two of these were from Caricom -- Jamaica and T&T. For the entire Latin America/Caribbean region the votes cast in support of the resolution totalled
merely eight, including the
Caricom two.

Different strokes

The six others were the USA, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, and Uruguay. There were further surprises in relation to Caricom member states --Trinidad and Tobago.

T&T's Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar was apparently so thrilled by the historic moment of her Government and country being among the
co-sponsoring nations of the US-initiated resolution that the impression -- at
first mistakenly conveyed primarily by domestic media coverage -- was that of a 'big-up' initiative with
'Uncle Sam'.

Now is neither the time nor occasion to recall the direct military involvement of the USA in sovereign states that cannot objectively be separated from the perils and the horrors of terrorism currently afflicting various nations, with the Middle East and Asia being distressing examples.

Of immediate relevance, however, is the split responses demonstrated by the 14-member states of Caricom, and more particularly, those of T&T
and Jamaica.

For instance, as earlier alluded, while Jamaica opted for public silence, the T&T prime minister was vigorously highlighting in the media her Government's commitment to combating the frightening threat of jihadist terrorists; and perhaps with objective reasons. An example? '50 Trinis fighting with ISIS' (Trinidad Express, September 26).

Her Jamaican counterpart, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, was to adopt a surprising posture of public silence on the UN Security Council vote.

According to random checks made, neither the Jamaica Observer nor the The Gleaner reported any statement --assuming one was released -- on the co-sponsorship voting with the USA on the anti-terrorism resolution. But I remain open to correction.

Ultimately, it is the sovereign state of a democratically elected Government-- as in the case of both Jamaica and T&T -- to decide these matters. However, in contrast to the virtual saturated media coverage provided for the people of that twin-island republic, the public silence posture adopted by Jamaica -- up to the time of writing -- remains quite surprising.

It could not have resulted from fear of reprisals, since the tough decision had already been taken to be among the 104 countries that followed the lead of Uncle Sam. So, why not at least a brief information-oriented statement for the benefit of the Jamaican people and their Caricom cousins as well?

Of course, there remains a broader question that requires some explanation by Caricom whose dozen other independent member countries avoided casting a vote for or against. After all, readers would be aware of the eloquent rhetorical flows from officialdom about our being "one community, one people..." And, so we must be, and united too, against all forms of terrorism and activities that make a tragic farce of basic human freedoms and human dignity.

Rickey Singh is a Barbados-based noted Caribbean journalist.

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