Jamaica Observer | 10 November 2023
Jamaica to delay signing Samoa Agreement, says Johnson Smith
KINGSTON, Jamaica – The Government of Jamaica will delay its signing of the post-Cotonou Agreement in Samoa (Samoa Agreement) in order to facilitate ongoing consultations, says Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Kamina Johnson Smith.
“Throughout the negotiations which concluded in 2021, the Government had taken on board the views of the various stakeholders including members of Civil Society. After what was in fact three years of challenging negotiations, the Government was satisfied that the language of the text in the final Agreement would not supersede Jamaica’s domestic legislation. Notwithstanding, the Government has taken note of concerns which continue to be raised by stakeholders in the domestic space, so we will continue consultations with the aim of providing assurances regarding the Government’s unfailing intent to always protect the interest of Jamaica and Jamaicans with the laws of Jamaica as our guide”, Johnson Smith said.
According to a news release on Friday, despite repeated calls by several citizens groups to the glaring danger of multiple clauses, the agreement was set to bind Jamaica to undefined human rights obligations tied to trade sanctions (Art.101(7) General Pact), reintroduce Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) back into schools despite parents’ outrage in 2012 with regards to CSE’s sexualising content (Art. 48(7), Caribbean Pact); trap the nation in yet-to-be-negotiated international instruments (Art.36(2) General Pact), and demand the acceptance of terms that directly threaten citizens’ freedom of conscience and speech (Art. 9(2) and Art. 20(1), General Pact) among other alarming concerns.
The release shared that “for 27 months, the Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society (JCHS) and seven other Jamaican NGO’s have been impressing upon the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade to take heed of the obvious threats to Jamaica’s national sovereignty in the current language of the agreement.”
Johnson Smith said as a founding member of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), Jamaica was an active participant in the negotiations on the Samoa Agreement, adding that “over the negotiating period of 2017-2020, the Government of Jamaica had incorporated feedback from a diverse range of stakeholders, including members of civil society. She also shared that Member States had worked across the OACPS regions to address similar issues and concerns.”
The signing of the Samoa Agreement is scheduled to take place on the November 15, following the meetings of the OACPS and OACPS-EU Ministerial Councils in Samoa.
“Jamaica, in line with our tradition of active engagement and partnership within the OACPS and with the European Union, will therefore participate in the meetings of the Ministerial Councils as customary, and which are slated to be held in Samoa during the period 14-15 November 2023”, the minister said.
Minister Johnson Smith further explained that “the Samoa Agreement is the successor to the Cotonou Partnership Agreement, the principal development framework through which Jamaica and other OACPS states have obtained grant funding from the European Union (EU), since the year 2000.”
The EU has been and remains Jamaica’s largest multilateral grant donor under this and prior agreements.
Parties within the Samoa Agreement stand to benefit from new financial and technical cooperation programmes.