“One Size Does Not Fit All”: Jamaica’s Statement at the Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on the World Drug Problem (UNGASS)

The Statement by Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Kamina Johnson Smith seems to have stirred some interest, including in the overseas media.  Here is the Explanation of Posititon, first:

STATEMENT BY SENATOR THE HONOURABLE KAMINA JOHNSON SMITH, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND FOREIGN TRADE

 IN EXPLANATION OF VOTE ON THE ADOPTION OF THE OUTCOME DOCUMENT FOR THE 30TH SPECIAL SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY ON the WORLD DRUG PROBLEM

UNITED NATIONS, NEW YORK

19TH APRIL 2016

Thank you Mr. President for giving me the opportunity to take the floor, to explain Jamaica’s position on the Outcome Document which has just been adopted.

Jamaica supports the consensus on the outcome document which, we acknowledge, is the result of a long and difficult negotiation process. This included multi-stakeholder consultations, and the submission of inputs from Member States, civil society, international organisations and UN agencies. Despite the wide divergence of views, we note that important advances were made, including references to the need for comprehensive and balanced strategies; alternatives to incarceration for minor drug offences; the importance of scientific evidence in the evaluation of drug policies; and alternative development and demand reduction.

Jamaica is, however, disappointed. The document does not allow countries sufficient flexibility to design our domestic policies to fit national circumstances, including recognition of traditional uses of cannabis in our society and as a religious sacrament. Additionally, there is no follow up mechanism to review the global drug control architecture and make recommendations, for the consideration of Member States, on how best to recalibrate the global response.

Although the document does not fully live up to the aspirations of Jamaica, we remain committed to continued constructive dialogue. We encourage the international community to move forward to address the world drug problem in a manner that reflects contemporary and evolving realities.

Thank you Mr. President.

Here is Minister Johnson Smith’s full statement:

STATEMENT BY SENATOR THE HONOURABLE KAMINA JOHNSON SMITH, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND FOREIGN TRADE

AT THE THIRTIETH SPECIAL SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY ON THE WORLD DRUG PROBLEM

UNITED NATIONS, NEW YORK

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 20, 2016

Mr. President

Excellencies,

Jamaica welcomes the convening of this Special Session. We appreciate the opportunity to share and work with the international community, as we evaluate our efforts to date.

The current realities of the world drug problem compel us to formulate dynamic policy responses that complement our development objectives, while adhering to the rule of law. There is a pressing need to develop and implement balanced, multi-dimensional, and innovative strategies.

Given the grave threat that illicit drugs and transnational organized crime pose to our national security, Jamaica has undertaken targeted efforts to address the root causes of these problems. We are finalizing a five-year national drug plan, and designing comprehensive demand reduction programs in the area of prevention; early intervention; treatment; rehabilitation; and social re-integration. We have strengthened our laws to dismantle criminal organizations, prevent money laundering, and combat human trafficking.

Mr. President,

In developing policies to address the world drug problem we are cognizant that one size does not fit all. In Jamaica, cannabis has been traditionally used as a folk medicine, as well as a religious sacrament by adherents to our indigenous faith, Rastafari. Such specific uses are not associated with illicit large-scale cultivation for trade.

Last year, Jamaica amended its Dangerous Drugs Act. In so doing, we did several things:

  1. We decriminalized the possession of less than two ounces of cannabis, by making it a ticketable rather than a felony offense;
  2. We created a legal régime governing the sacramental use of cannabis by Rastafarians;
  3. We established provisions for the medical, scientific and therapeutic uses of the plant; and
  4. We established a state authority to license, regulate and monitor the allowed uses.

While adhering to our obligations under the Drug Control Conventions, we maintain that countries should be allowed the flexibility to craft appropriate laws and policies that take account of other important elements. These include differing cultural perspectives and practices, as well as the consideration of the health, well-being, human rights, human development and security of our citizens.

We contend that the classification of cannabis under the Single Convention is an anomaly and that the medical value of a substance must be determined by science and evidence-based analysis, above other considerations.

We will continue to abide by our international obligations, even as we work in close collaboration with the international community on designing balanced and innovative strategies to better address the world drug problem in all its dimensions.

With regard to the follow-up to this UNGASS, Jamaica reiterates its call for the establishment of a mechanism to review the global drug control architecture and make recommendations, for the consideration of Member States, on how best to recalibrate the global response.

We reaffirm our common and shared responsibility to address the world drug problem. We emphasize the need to ensure system-wide coherence and enhanced collaboration between the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) and other relevant UN agencies, including the International Narcotics Control Board, the World Health Organization, the Human Rights Council and the United Nations Development Programme.

Mr. President,

We must move forward to make meaningful and effective progress in addressing the world drug problem. We must place health and human development at the centre. We owe it to the current generation, in particular our young people. We owe it to future generations. Let us not let them down.

I thank you.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Culture Minister Olivia Grange met with members of the Rastafarian community, who visited him at Jamaica House this week. PM Holness noted on his Facebook page:"Yesterday I along with Minister Henry and Minister Grange met with members of the Rastafarian community. We recognize the importance of dialogue with the Rastafarian community as we seek to provide representation for all Jamaicans."
Prime Minister Andrew Holness, Culture Minister Olivia Grange and Minister Mike Henry met with members of the Rastafarian community at Jamaica House this week. PM Holness noted on his Facebook page:”Yesterday I along with Minister Henry and Minister Grange met with members of the Rastafarian community. We recognize the importance of dialogue with the Rastafarian community as we seek to provide representation for all Jamaicans.”

 


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