Letters to the Editor

Foreign affairs must be based on principles

Friday, May 18, 2018

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Dear Editor,

Our Foreign Affairs Ministry must be encouraged to choose its positions based on principle and stand firmly behind it.

The Government now says that it is deeply troubled by violence in the Gaza Strip arising from the US's controversial decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem. It wasn't long ago many countries, including allies, voted overwhelmingly at the UN General Assembly to denounce the US decision with 128 voting against, nine in favour, 35 abstaining, and another 21 countries did not participate. Jamaica chose to abstain, even as it was widely known that the US's move would result in violence.

The violence to date in the region has been described as horrific with scores killed to date since the embassy was opened a few days ago.

Indeed, we do have our own problems in Jamaica, especially with crime; we are a small country and some have argued why what is happening over there should concern us. Well, no man is an island, and Jamaica is, in fact, a member country in the UN and party to its mandate to promote global peace, harmony and cooperation. We also have strong interests in the Middle East, where many Jamaicans now reside, study and work. We are affected directly, and indirectly and should always maintain a strong voice on matters related to foreign affairs as it will affect us and the region as a whole.

The UN has always argued for peaceful negotiated resolution and mediation in these conflicts. It is the very essence of why the UN Assembly was formed. While it is admirable to see the Government taking a firmer position now, it would've been more meaningful had they not voted to abstain after the US threatened “to take the names” of those countries which did not support the controversial decision. Some of the largest recipients of US aid still voted against, it was a matter of principle.

Foreign affairs should not be developed based on fear; it ought to be principled, diplomatic and, most importantly, consistent.

P Chin

chin_p@yahoo.com

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