An Important Correction to the News Regarding the Escazú Agreement

Two days ago I wrote about Jamaica’s signing (and, as we thought, ratification) of the Escazú agreement at the United Nations – such a welcome development. Both the World Resources Institute and Jamaica Environment Trust issued statements welcoming the news.

Unfortunately there was a technical error. In fact, the agreement was signed, but not ratified. Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Senator Kamina Johnson Smith confirmed this to us on Twitter, and subsequently issued the following press release, explaining:

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Kamina Johnson Smith. (Photo: JIS)

On September 26, 2019 in the margins of the UN General Assembly High Level Week, Jamaica became the sixth signatory to the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters, also known as the “Escazú Agreement.”

The Agreement was signed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Honorable Kamina Johnson Smith during a Treaty Ceremony in which several other countries participated. Minister Johnson Smith said, “Jamaica was an active participant in the negotiation of the Agreement which was finalized in April of this year in Escazú, Costa Rica, the location from which the Treaty now takes its name. We are therefore pleased that Cabinet gave its approval for our early signature during UN High Level Week.”

In light of certain errors which led to the announcement of Jamaica’s ratification of the Treaty, the Foreign Minister also advised that the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, which has portfolio responsibility for the implementation of the Treaty, has indicated that it is looking forward to engaging stakeholders and commencing the processes needed to ensure that Jamaica is in a position to comply with the provisions of the Treaty, and accordingly in due course, to ratify.

Minister Johnson Smith added that she sincerely regrets the disappointment caused to stakeholders by the incorrect announcement of Jamaica’s ratification, and explained that the Ministry is working with the UN to ensure that the technical error regarding the ratification process itself is corrected in accordance with their standard procedures. She indicated that this will in due course include the publication of a corrected record of countries which have in fact ratified the Treaty.

Well, these things happen. We need to dust ourselves off, and move on. Meanwhile, I look forward to the eventual ratification of this critical agreement, and am happy to see that Jamaica is on its way.



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