Jamaica is pleased to join other members of the Commonwealth family across the world in commemorating Commonwealth Day 2017, under the theme “A Peace-building Commonwealth”.
The Commonwealth boasts a rich diversity as its 52 member countries are drawn from various cultures, races, languages, religions and geographical locations. Yet, despite the wide divergences, Commonwealth countries have worked together effectively over the decades to promote peace, and to champion democracy, human rights, the rule of law, and the social and economic development of member countries.
This collaboration across the Commonwealth of nations is undergirded by the fundamental principle of mutual understanding and respect for different cultures, and the rejection of intolerance, prejudice, racism and all forms of discrimination. Herein lies one of the greatest lessons that the Commonwealth can teach us: that true and sustainable peace is predicated on mutual respect for and understanding of the people around us, regardless of their gender, age, class, race, place of origin or political ideology.
There can be no development without peace. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly Goal 16 which seeks to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, reflects the inextricable link between peace and sustainable development to secure a brighter future for our citizens.
The Government of Jamaica remains committed to the full and effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda which is aligned with the Vision 2030 Jamaica - National Development Plan. Goal 2 of Vision 2030 for a secure, cohesive and just society not only reflects the Commonwealth of ‘peace-building’ but also reflects the Government’s commitment to address the high incidence of crime and violence which undermines productivity and engenders hopelessness in the society. By reducing the level of crime, we intend to foster a more favourable environment for economic growth and job creation, thus paving the way for Jamaica to become “the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business”.
Commonwealth Day 2017 is a reminder to all Jamaicans not to allow our differences to define our existence. It is a reminder to pursue peace and understanding rather than violence, in resolving conflicts. I invite all Jamaicans to continue to partner with the Government, as we strive to create a peaceful and safe society for current and future generations.