Jamaicans in New York will have the opportunity to contribute to ongoing discussions targeted at strengthening bilateral relations between Jamaica and the United States during a public forum scheduled to be held in Manhattan, New York on Thursday, March 24.
Led by the Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CAPRI) in collaboration with the United States Embassy in Jamaica, the forum is the fourth in a five-part dialogue being held with Jamaicans locally and overseas, under the project — Dialogues Between Democracies: The Future of US/ Jamaica Bilateral Relations.
The Manhattan forum, focused on the theme, Jamaica / US Relations: Issues and Perspectives, will be held at the New York Hilton Midtown, 1335 Ave. of the Americas, New York, at 6 pm and will focus on security and good governance.
Panellists in the New York forum will include Ralph Thomas, Jamaican ambassador to the USA and Earl Jarrett, general manager, Jamaica National Building Society and Ambassador Curtis Ward, former Jamaican ambassador to the United Nations. Joshua Polacheck, counsellor, Public Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Kingston will moderate the discussion.
Dr. Damien King, executive director of CAPRI, says the forum will explore practical measures to strengthen civil society and enhance its impact as an agent for improving governance in Jamaica. In that regard, the discussions will address policymaking, accountability, transparency, access to information and the development of informed public opinion.
“What we hope to achieve from these discussions are feasible ways to advance security cooperation in areas, such as defence and maritime security; as well as, identify ways in which we can strengthen Jamaica’s social institutions,” Dr King indicated.
He noted that security and law enforcement were fundamental to economic growth. Further, he maintained that strengthening Jamaican institutions by limiting corruption, enhancing transparency and respect for the rule of law will improve trust in the political process, in addition to opening doors to greater domestic and international trade.
The New York forum follows similar panel discussions about Security and Health, which were held in Kingston, Jamaica, in January. The security forum included presentations from Peter Bunting, the national security minister at the time of the forum; Luis Moreno, U.S. ambassador to Jamaica; Dr. Carl Williams, commissioner of police; Joshua Polacheck, counsellor for Public Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Jamaica and Professor Anthony Harriott, professor of political sociology and director of the Institute of Criminal Justice at The University of the West Indies.
Those discussions highlighted many key points, including the continued strong security cooperation between Jamaica and the USA through training and capacity building; and, facilitated perspectives on issues, such as what could be deemed as the security force’s reliance on extraditions to the USA, which some participants surmised could consequently weaken local law enforcement institutions.
A previous discussion in December, which focused on the development of the health sector, included Horace Dalley, former health minister; Anthony Heron, senior HIV/AIDS technical advisor at the United States Agency for International Development in Jamaica; Dr. Jeremy Knight, former director of HIV Programmes in the Ministry of Health; and Dr. Shane Alexis, president of the Medical Association of Jamaica.
“In the final analysis, we hope to find the most effective ways for both Jamaica and the United States, strong democracies in partnership, to cooperate in pursuit of their mutual interests,” Dr. King maintained. “We believe these fora will provide a platform which will facilitate the voicing of different opinions on the current partnership between our countries, and in so doing to identify ways in which the partnership may be strengthened.”