GOVERNMENT OF JAMAICA
Achievements relating to the Diaspora focus
- The establishment of the Charter for Long-Term Returning Residents in 1993.
- One important provision of the Charter of 1993 was the establishment of the Returning Residents Facilitation Unit (RRFU) in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade; this unit was later upgraded and is now known as the Diaspora and Consular Affairs Department.
- A Returning Residents Unit was also established at the Jamaica Customs Department to facilitate the importation of motor vehicles as well as household and personal effects primarily through concessions for eligible returning residents.
- Establishment of several Returning Residents associations across Jamaica.
- In 2002, a Minister of Government was assigned special responsibility for the Jamaican Diaspora and Overseas Communities to advance the relationship between those at home and abroad. Since then, successive administrations of Government have appointed a Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade to undertake this responsibility.
- In October 2003, a Symposium convened under the theme “The Jamaican Diaspora – Reciprocal Relations – The Way Forward” was hosted by the Mona School of Business of the University of the West Indies (UWI), in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Foreign Trade, to chart the way for further engagement of Jamaica’s overseas communities.
- Within the framework of the Symposium, on June 16, 2004 at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston, the inaugural Jamaican Diaspora Conference was convened to continue the dialogue and deepen the relationship between Jamaica and the Jamaican Diaspora. The Conference is convened biennially and June 16 was proclaimed Jamaican Diaspora Day.
- June 16 was declared Jamaica Diaspora Day and so proclaimed by the Governor General of Jamaica. Since then every Jamaica Diaspora Conference has been held on or around that day.
- A resolution at the inaugural Jamaican Diaspora Conference created the Jamaican Diaspora Advisory Board which advises the Minister of Foreign Affairs & Foreign Trade on issues relating to the Diaspora. Seven selected members, with continuous access to the Minister, constitute the Diaspora Advisory Board. The Board Members are elected by their peers in the respective Diaspora regions for a term of two years and they may be re-elected at least for consecutive term. Board members are appointed by the Minister of State.
- The inaugural Jamaican Diaspora Conference also gave birth to the Jamaica Diaspora Foundation (JADF), a limited liability non-profit organization, with a board of directors made up of well-established Jamaicans, based both locally and abroad. With respect to those abroad, the Articles of Incorporation state that nine directors from a slate of seventeen who are not resident in Jamaica may be selected and serve as Community Directors for a term not exceeding three years, as follows:
- USA – 3 from a slate of 4
- Canada – 2 from a slate of 4
- UK – 2 from a slate of 4
- Diaspora at large – 2 from a slate of 4
Regarding local Directors, there may be five Organizational Directors appointed by the Government of Jamaica upon the recommendation of established organizations within the Private Sector which represent the interests of a broad range of organizations.
JADF conducts research and maintains a database of skilled Jamaicans abroad. The Foundation has an operational arm which is the Jamaica Diaspora Institute (JDI), which functions as its secretariat. The Mona School of Business, UWI is host to the Foundation.
The Chairman of the JADF is currently Mr. Earl Jarrett, General Manager of the Jamaica National Building Society. Executive Director of the JDI is Professor Neville Ying.
- Jamaica has played host to successful installments of the Jamaican Diaspora Conference, namely in 2006, 2008, (2010 – postponed) and 2011, following the inaugural conference in 2004.
- Regional Diaspora bodies have been launched in the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States to foster a greater coordination of activities between Jamaica and Jamaican communities overseas.
- A Joint Select Committee of Parliament on Diaspora Affairs was first named in March 2008 and was set up to determine a national approach to policy on Diaspora matters as well as propose constitutional amendments. This Committee is bi-partisan in its constitution and has been supported by successive administrations of Government.
- The first-ever Future Leaders Jamaican Diaspora Conference was held on August 4, 2009 with participating delegates from the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Canada and Jamaica. The conference reflected the growing interest of younger members of the Diaspora for a voice in and movement of the Diaspora.
- The Jamaican Diaspora Healthcare Sector and Friends of Jamaica in association with the Ministry of Health conducted an International Healthcare Fact Finding Mission to Jamaica October 10-15, 2011 as part of the ongoing effort to integrate overseas healthcare outreach to Jamaica into the Strategic Plan of the Ministry of Health. The Organization for Strategic Development in Jamaica (OSDJ), a registered non-profit organization based in Minnesota, United States, initiated the first such fact finding mission in 2005.
- The establishment of coherent plan between contributions of the Diaspora and national development goals through Jamaica’s National Strategic Plan – Vision 2030. Moreover, the Diaspora now forms a key area of focus in Jamaica’s Foreign Policy.
- Initiation and completion of a Diaspora Policy and a policy on international migration and development.
- The establishment of a bi-partisan approach to Diaspora matters as well as a joint partnership with the private sector for the hosting of the Jamaican Diaspora Conference for the last ten (10) years.
- Provision of an Information Pack for Returning Residents is available at all overseas Missions. Information is also facilitated online via the websites of the overseas Missions.