On September 15th, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson hosted the Community of Democracies (CoD) Governing Council International Day of Democracy Ministerial meeting at the State Department in Washington D.C. The Secretary was joined by the foreign ministers of the 30 Governing Council member countries, and Representatives of other CoD members countries.
Jamaica was represented by Her Excellency Audrey Marks, Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States and Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States (OAS). Ambassador Marks took the opportunity to convey the Government’s commitment to a democratic and free society. She went on to posit that the pursuit of democracy in Jamaica is not solely based on principle – the pursuit of democracy in Jamaica is a way of life.
Jamaica is a longstanding global advocate of human rights including the right to freedom of expression and opinions as enshrined in the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Jamaica has been ranked 8th in the world by the 2017 World Press Freedom Index, up from 10th in 2016. Reporters Without Borders highlighted Jamaica as being among the countries that most respect freedom of information and noted that the move taken by the House of Representative to decriminalize defamation in 2013 was step in the right direction.
In a Facebook post, Ambassador Marks reminded her followers to value and celebrate democracy and the civil society that has allowed them to talk as much as they want compared to many other countries in the world were ordinary citizens cannot express an independent opinion.
I know sometimes when you listen to the constant talking on the radio programs that run all day, we complain about how “Jamaicans love to talk” 😊 but today, let’s pause for a moment to celebrate our democracy and civil society that has allowed us to talk as much as we want as there are many countries in the world were ordinary citizens cannot express an independent opinion.
The Community of Democracies is an international coalition of states that meets regularly to promote democracy, civil society and good governance. The organization was founded in 2000 by former secretary of state Madeleine Albright and the late Polish foreign minister Bronislaw Geremek. Every two years, whichever country holds the rotating presidency pledges to host a foreign-minister-level meeting and all democratic governments are invited. Poland was awarded the honour to hold a half-year CoD Presidency in 2019.