Caribbean Islands Table of Contents
After independence Jamaica's foreign policy increasingly emphasized the nation's connection with Africa and issues such as colonialism, racism, and South Africa's apartheid system. These concerns reflected the African ethnic origin of about three-fourth of Jamaica's population. In recognition of the political importance of the Rastafarians, who actually constituted less than 5 percent of the Jamaican population, the government of Prime Minister Shearer hosted a state visit by Ethiopia's Selassi I on April 2, 1966. Jamaica opened low-level diplomatic relations with black African states in 1968, but established an embassy only in Ethiopia. Shearer and Manley, the leader of the opposition, made extended tours of Africa in 1969, including visits to Addis Ababa. In the early 1970s, Jamaica opened resident missions in Algeria and Nigeria.
Jamaica's UN voting in the 1960s reflected its pro-African stances on four issues: Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Namibia, African territories under Portuguese administration, and apartheid in South Africa. Since independence Jamaica's voting record on these issues has closely followed that of other Commonwealth Caribbean and other nonwhite states. Until 1973 Jamaica gave only verbal and moral support to the anti-apartheid and -colonial causes. That year, however, Prime Minister Manley visited several African countries on his way to the Nonaligned Movement (NAM) summit conference in Algiers and pledged material support for guerrillas seeking to overthrow the white-dominated regime in Southern Rhodesia. In 1976 Jamaica signed the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. The Seaga government continued to support UN resolutions and actions against apartheid and for the independence of Namibia, rejecting the view that Namibia's independence must be conditioned on the withdrawal of Cuban troops from Angola.
Jamaica, which had become a full member of the NAM by the time of the Belgrade Conference in 1968, began playing a prominent role in that organization after Manley became prime minister in 1972. Saying he was trying to find a "third way" between capitalism and communism, Manley emphasized nationalism and railed against what he called United States imperialism. He headed a high-level Jamaican delegation to the NAM conference in Algiers in 1973, traveling to the meeting by airplane with Fidel Castro. In addition to its leading role in establishing the IBA early 1974, Jamaica was involved in the international negotiations that led to the signing of the Lomé Convention in early 1975. A Jamaican delegation also played a key coordinating role in promoting a "new international economic order" at the 1976 UN Conference on Trade and Development.
Seaga's government continued the nation's nonaligned status on key political and economic issues before the UN. Jamaica generally continued to vote with the positions of the NAM. For example, in 1986 Foreign Minister Shearer advocated a comprehensive settlement of the problem in the Middle East and the right of the Palestinian peoples to a homeland. He also called for Israel to pull back to its 1967 borders, but, at the same time, stressed the right of the Jewish state to exist. The Seaga government advocated the UN as the best forum for negotiating a solution to Middle Eastern conflict. Although Seaga expanded his nation's relations with Third World countries in the 1980s, he lowered its profile as an advocate of NAM causes.
In addition to participating in the UN, Jamaica has participated actively in international institutions such as the World Bank, IMF, General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), Group of 77, EEC, IBA, Intelsat and the International Seabed Authority (ISA), which made Kingston its headquarters.
Data as of November 1987