Jamaica Airs Concerns at the Special UNGA Session (UNGASS 2016) on the World Drug Problem


Here is a press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade regarding Minister Johnson Smith’s current visit to the United Nations (her first as Minister, I believe). I just heard a snippet of her speech regarding consideration for the “traditional use of cannabis” in Jamaica, which was interrupted by applause.

Senator the Honourable Kamina Johnson Smith, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, will lead Jamaica’s delegation to the 30th Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on the World Drug Problem (UNGASS 2016). The Special Session will be held, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, from 19th to 21st April 2016.

The main aim of the Special Session is to “review the progress made in the implementation of the Political Declaration and Plan of Action on International Cooperation towards an Integrated and Balanced Strategy to Counter the World Drug Problem, including an assessment of the achievements and challenges in countering the world drug problem, within the framework of the three international drug control conventions and other relevant United Nations instruments.”

Jamaica is a State Party to the three conventions, namely, the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs as amended by the 1972 Protocol; the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances; and the 1988 UN Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.

 This UNGASS is not intended to achieve immediate amendment of the drug control conventions, or reform of its architecture. Rather, it should be seen as one of several steps in the journey towards that end. In this regard, Minister Johnson Smith, while supporting the consensus position, will express Jamaica’s disappointment with the Outcome Document’s failure to provide more flexibility for countries to design domestic policies to fit national circumstances, including recognition of traditional uses of cannabis in our society and as a sacrament, and its omission of a follow-up mechanism.

Several meetings have been held with various stakeholders, including civil society organizations, in advance of Jamaica’s participation in the Special Session.

Minister Johnson Smith will also participate in a High level Thematic Debate on the Sustainable Development Goals to be held also at UN Headquarters, New York, on 21st April 2016, which provides an opportunity for Member States to explore strategies for implementing the goals and targets to enable the successful achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.


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