Jamaica might need a foreign policy reset

Jamaica might need a foreign policy reset

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Print this page Email A Friend!


As the Joseph Biden Administration gets ready to take the reins of power in the United States in another eight days, now would be a good time for Jamaica to review its foreign policy and decide whether there is need for a refresh and reset.

The perception in some diplomatic quarters is that, under the Donald Trump regime, Jamaica tilted somewhat towards a foreign policy of pragmaticism, and away from the well-known course based on non-alignment, multilateralism, and regional cooperation.

Some older heads in the local diplomatic community fretted about that perceived shift. However, others believed that the complexity of Mr Trump's “America First” policy suggested that Jamaica was correct to be more flexible as it tried to walk between the raindrops.

For sure, Jamaicans have been jealous about the country's outstanding international reputation as a respected ally that would stand up with our friends and allies and a fearlessly independent country that defended what it believed to be right.

This reputation made Jamaica a leader in international affairs with influence far beyond its size, able to punch above our weight, and a sought-after ally who was always consulted.

There is much pride in the fact that while Jamaica was still a colony of Britain we became the first country to ban imports from apartheid South Africa. We initiated the United Nations International Year of Human Rights, defended Cuba's right of self-determination, and advocated the new international economic order.

Jamaica's ideas led to the development of the Caribbean Basin Initiative, led the formation of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, and gave sanctuary to deposed democratically elected President Bertrand Aristide of Haiti.

For all these reasons, Jamaica is permanently designated to lead Caricom's advocacy in international affairs, has been on the Security Council on two occasions, and chaired the Group of 77 and Non-Aligned Movement.

It is quite likely that Jamaica's status and influence among some of our traditional friends might have waned in more recent times. For example, China might have felt let down because of blistering attacks on it from the US on Jamaican soil.

Some would have questioned why Jamaica was bestowing a national honour on the president of the Dominican Republic while that country was expelling Haitians born there. Cuba would have appreciated some support as US sanctions were being imposed.

Venezuela, too, would have felt hard done that, after bailing us out with PetroCaribe, Jamaica had not been more strident in its support at the Organisation of American States and in other international fora.

Some Latin American countries would have been unhappy with us for being among the first to support an American candidate to be president of the Inter-American Development Bank.

Against that background, it is an appropriate time to review Jamaica's foreign policy, if only to ensure that we are back on track. In any event, we have to fine-tune our post-Brexit relations with the United Kingdom and the European Union.

Mrs Kamina Johnson Smith has some work to do.


Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaper-login


ADVERTISEMENT




POST A COMMENT

HOUSE RULES

1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed: advertising@jamaicaobserver.com.

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email: community@jamaicaobserver.com.

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy



comments powered by Disqus
ADVERTISEMENT

Poll

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon
ADVERTISEMENT