United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres Lands in Jamaica for Historic Visit and Bilateral Talks
16 May 2023
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres made his first official visit to Jamaica yesterday.
The UN Chief consulted with Prime Minister Holness on the impact of the climate crisis in the Caribbean and upcoming High-Level discussions on the mid-term review of the global framework for disaster risk reduction. They also discussed the situation in Haiti as well as ways of involving the international community, including Jamaica’s leadership, in efforts to reform the global financial architecture. The Secretary-General was also exposed to elements of Jamaican history, culture and academia.
Secretary General Guterres was warmly received in Jamaica on Sunday, 14 May 2023 by a delegation including the UN Resident Coordinator a.i. Vincent Sweeney – Head, UNEP Sub Regional Office of the Caribbean.
On Sunday, Guterres visited Seville Great House and Heritage Park, in Saint Ann. This former plantation is now a heritage site reflecting centuries of history in Jamaica. On Sunday evening, the Secretary-General also attended a dinner organized in Kingston by the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
“I was deeply impressed by stories of courage & determination of slaves who fought for freedom. This is a reminder of the urgency to fight racism & inequalities everywhere,” Guterres said.
On 15 May, the Secretary-General met the United Nations team working in Jamaica. The SG was also met by hundreds of local UN Staff and representatives from the International Seabed Authority. The UN Team shared their appreciation for the SG’s advocacy for small island developing states and encouraged his mission and bilateral talks on global financing systems.
The SG then toured a part of downtown Kingston transformed into a gallery of street art and murals by Jamaican artists. The tour was facilitated by the office of the Mayor of Kingston, His Worship Delroy Williams and Kington Creatives, one of the largest third-sector non-profits working to revitalize the City of Kingston through the creative industry.
Immediately after this visit, the Secretary-General had a bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness, followed by a joint press conference.
In his remarks to journalists, the Secretary-General said that when we look at today’s international financial architecture, we are facing moral, power and practical problems.
These problems, he added, are impacting countries like Jamaica and this is why it was important for him to hear the perspective of the Prime Minister to translate the dramatic needs and interests of developing countries, and of countries like Jamaica, in initiatives the United Nations is developing and beyond.
Turning to Haiti, the Secretary-General reiterated the need — expressed in his proposal to the Security Council last year — for a non-United Nations international police force to crack down on the gangs. This, he added, needs to take place in parallel with a political process.
He acknowledged that this has been a difficult exercise, but he once again asked the international community to understand that effective solidarity with Haiti is not only a matter of generosity, it is essentially a matter of enlightened self-interest because the present situation in Haiti reflects a threat to the security of the whole region and further afield.
In the afternoon, the Secretary-General visited the Bob Marley Museum, The University of the West Indies as well as the historic site of Port Royal.