Ms Pat Durrant represents the best of our awesome women ambassadors

Ms Pat Durrant represents the best of our awesome women ambassadors

Sunday, December 01, 2019

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Women represent fewer than 10 per cent of diplomats in the top position of ambassador to Washington, DC out of the 189 diplomatic missions there. Overall, the number of women ambassadors at the United Nations has only just reached 37 out of 193-member states.

Last week's passing of Jamaica's trailblazing woman Ambassador Patricia Durrant, aged 76, compels acknowledgement of her outstanding work and that of our other women ambassadors who have served with such distinction and impeccable comportment.

Ambassador Migonette Patricia “Pat” Durrant, a past student of St Andrew High School for Girls, graduated from The University of the West Indies (UWI) with a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Diploma in International Relations. She studied at University of Cambridge, United Kingdom and received a Diploma in Overseas Development Studies.

She joined the foreign service in 1971 and rose to become Jamaica's first woman ambassador in Bonn, Germany in 1987 and then permanent representative of Jamaica to the United Nations in 1995.

She served previously at the United Nations as Jamaica's deputy permanent representative from 1983 to 1987. During 1999-2001, she was president of the High-level Committee on Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries; in 1999 she was vice-chair of the Preparatory Committee for the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Population and Development.

Ms Durrant led Jamaica's delegation during its second tenure as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (2000-2001) where she was instrumental in the council's adoption of Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security and was responsible for democratising the operational procedures of the council.

During this period, she was also chair of the UN Preparatory Committee for the Special Session on Children, and chair of the Consultative Committee for the UN Development Fund for Women.

Ambassador Durrant was held in such high regard that the UN secretary general appointed her as the United Nations Ombudsman in April 2002 in the rank of assistant secretary general, the first to hold this position.

When she returned home, she continued her life of service as president of the United Nations Women's Guild of Jamaica, a charitable organisation.

Among the many accolades she received for her life's work, Ambassador Durrant was the recipient of the Commander of the Order of Distinction and the Order of Jamaica from the Government of Jamaica; The UWI's Distinguished Graduate award on the occasion of its 50th anniversary; and the Distinguished Achievement Award from the World Association of Former United Nations Interns and Fellows.

In Ambassador Durrant, a library of knowledge has closed its doors. She served our country during the golden era of Jamaican diplomacy, guided many a young minister and navigated the powerful corridors of the United Nations with sophistication and class.

May her soul rest in peace.

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