Ambassador Donald Mills, another great Jamaican treasure has passed

Saturday, March 21, 2015

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AMBASSADOR Donald Mills last Monday ended his long inning as Jamaica's diplomat emeritus, having assisted considerably in establishing the country as a centre of great diplomacy.


He served with great distinction as Jamaica's ambassador to the United Nations from 1973-1981, at a time of great social change and upheaval in the world, when developing countries insisted on being heard as equal members of the human family and agitated for a more equitable partnership in a New International Economic Order.


These are words and phrases which now seem to have disappeared from the lexicon of current diplomacy. But the greater respect now accorded to Third World countries is their certain legacy. Men like Don Mills believed in the United Nations as a vitally important organisation, particularly for small developing countries like Jamaica.


His diplomatic odyssey began in 1969, with a secondment from the Government of Jamaica to The Bahamian Government as development secretary in charge of that country's new Ministry of Development; followed by a two-year stint as alternate executive director on the board of the International Monetary Fund representing Jamaica, Barbados, The Bahamas and, yes, Canada and Ireland.


In an epochal period of world history, he was appointed Jamaica's ambassador to the UN where his intellect, command of international economic issues and his advocacy were held in such high regard that he was elected chairman, spokesman and chief negotiator of the Group of 77 from 1977 to 1978. His immense diplomatic skills would be kept busy dousing the fires of East-West conflict in which Jamaica became a geographic centre.


He emerged as one of the leaders of the struggle for the New International Economic Order. Some of these ideas were captured in 'The New Europe, The New World Order, Jamaica and the Caribbean', his GraceKennedy Lecture 1991. Other important achievements include chairman of the UN Security Council and president of the Economic and Social Council.


In his autobiography, Journeys and Missions - At Home and Away, Ambassador Mills chronicled his involvement in the three missions sent to Africa in response to the demands of the Rastafarians, which prompted Premier Norman Manley to write: "You have been of the greatest possible assistance to me."


He had a strong interest in the arts and his love of music led him to collect a fascinating array of musical instruments from across the world. He contributed to the arts as chairman of the board of management of the School of Music; member of the JAMI Awards Trust; council member of the Institute of Jamaica, and of the board of directors of the Art Foundation.


All who knew Ambassador Mills and were touched by his selfless life could not help being impressed with his passion, intellect and his patriotism, and were engaged by his charisma and energy. They speak of this strong personality and his brilliance. For those who did not know him personally, his impressive record of service and contribution to the nation speaks for itself.


Farewell, ambassador.


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