• The Most Honourable Andrew Holness, Prime Minister and the Most Honourable Mrs. Holness
  • Honourable Mr. Justice Bryan Sykes, Chief Justice (Acting) and Dr. Sykes
  • Senator the Honourable Tom Tavares Finson, President of the Senate and Mrs. Tavares Finson
  • Your Excellencies: The Dean and Members of the Diplomatic Corps
  • The Most Hon. Sir Kenneth Hall, former Governor-General and the Most Hon. Lady Hall
  • Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

Good evening!

This is the 8th occasion on which Lady Allen and I are having the pleasure of welcoming you to Diplomatic Dinner, here at King’s House, in honour of the representatives of countries with which Jamaica has established diplomatic relations.

Each of those occasions has been special as the preceding ones, providing an opportunity not only to welcome diplomats, resident here in Jamaica, but also those resident in other countries, and especially those visiting for the first time.

Welcome to each one of you.

Since our last meeting, we have welcomed twelve (12) new Heads of Mission, including the resident High Commissioners of the United Kingdom, the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Canada, and the Ambassadors of Spain, Japan and the Republic of Cuba. In that interim, we bade farewell to several other Heads of Missions, and will also be saying goodbye shortly to the Ambassadors of the People’s Republic of China and the United Mexican States.

These arrivals and departures remind us that in the field of diplomacy change is the constant.

Yesterday morning, nine (9) Ambassadors-designate, presented to me Letters of Credence. We warmly welcome and congratulate, these our new Ambassadors (and High Commissioners).

Our collective gathering, on this special occasion, underscores the linguistic, cultural, religious, ethnic and other diversities that comprise the global community. Those differences, however, need not become barriers to the development and maintenance of strong bonds of friendship and cooperation between Governments and peoples, guided by the principle of mutual respect.

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, during the years that I have held this office as Governor-General, I have had the privilege of meeting some of the finest members of the diplomatic community. Jamaica has indeed been blessed by the calibre of the representatives assigned here. I thoroughly enjoy the occasions when I exchange views and share ideas with members of the Corps.

From each and every one of these encounters, I have learnt to better understand and appreciate not only your uniqueness, but the similarities we share, as well as the tremendous responsibilities that you carry.

This annual Dinner, therefore, represents a truly special opportunity to personally express my sincere appreciation to you, as a body of distinguished emissaries, for the outstanding representation that you provide, in advancing the important bilateral and international partnerships between Jamaica and your countries.

I would ask therefore that you convey to your respective Governments, our sincere appreciation for the forging of those partnerships and for the progress we have achieved together over the past year.

Another notable feature of this year’s Dinner, is that it is the first time we are gathering collectively, following the celebration, not only of the 55th anniversary of Jamaica’s Independence, but also the 55th anniversary of the establishment of the Jamaican Foreign Service. 

That milestone also represented a special landmark for eight (8) countries which established diplomatic relation with Jamaica 55 years ago- vis a vis:

  1. Belgium,
  2. Brazil,
  3. Canada,
  4. France,
  5. India,
  6. The Netherlands,
  7. The United Kingdom, and
  8. The United States of America.

I am briefed that the Foreign Ministry collaborated with them in various ways to commemorate that achievement.

Jamaica attaches high importance to its bilateral and multilateral ties with your countries and international organizations, for it is only through partnership, that we can aspire to effectively attain our socio-economic development goals. Diplomatic relations and Diplomats retain their value only in a world that strives for stability, development and civilised order.

Former British diplomat Humphrey Trevelyan, describes the practice of diplomacy, and a diplomat’s life and how it has changed, in his 1973 book titled, “Diplomatic Channels”:

“The diplomat must regard himself as an economist, a commercial traveller, an advertising agent for his country; wields the weapon of culture for political ends; promotes scientific and technical exchanges and administers development aid. … promoting the relations of not only governments and politicians, but also of scientists, musicians, dancers, actors, authors, footballers, trade unionists and even women and youth…”. 

This reflects in large part, the important role you play in promoting relations between your countries and Jamaica. Indeed, Kingston’s diplomatic community is very strong and vibrant in this sense, and I am honoured to host this august gathering, whose responsibility is not only to serve your home country, but to make a positive and significant difference in our global village.

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, this occasion also gives me the opportunity to assure you that Jamaica remains engaged and focused in its interactions at the bilateral, regional and multilateral levels. Like all of you, we aspire for a more equitable, safer and more humane and sustainable world, where our people can, in turn, aspire to a better quality of life, characterized by peace, security and prosperity.

In the pursuit of our foreign policy therefore, we will continue to advocate for the attainment of those goals, by maintaining an active voice in the relevant international fora.

Prime Minister, Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen; in closing, Lady Allen joins me in conveying our very special pleasure to share your company over Dinner this evening, and we hope that we can even surpass the tradition of providing a truly satisfying and memorable experience.

I thank you and enjoy your evening.