OAS Receives Jamaican Delegation to Discuss Labor and Social Protection Initiatives

WASHINGTON , DC –
The Organization of American States (OAS) received a delegation from Jamaica’s Ministry of Labour and Social Security visiting the United States for a week to exchange ideas on labor and social protection initiatives, particularly regarding youth unemployment, at the organization’s headquarters in Washington, DC.

Jorge Saggiante, the OAS Executive Secretary for Integral Development, cited the visit and the dialogue between the governments of Jamaica and the United States as an example of “horizontal collaboration,” a central concept for the Organization. “It is very important that you are here in the United States to learn, but also to show how you are carrying out programs at home.”

Ambassador Carmen Lomellin, Permanent Representative of the United States to the OAS, said “the U.S. government is very committed to promoting cooperation among the Member States of this Organization.” The United States “looks forward to learning about” Jamaica’s employment initiatives, she added, emphasizing that “when it comes to finding the best approaches and the best practices to social protection solutions,” the sharing of experiences is crucial.

Secretary Saggiante explained the Organization’s interest in, and support for, the visit by the Jamaican delegation in terms of three priorities of the OAS: the promotion of dialogue, collaboration and consensus among its Member States. These steps, he emphasized, are important in “building democratic governance.” As to the specific focus of the weeklong visit by the Jamaican delegation, youth unemployment, he stressed that it was one of the most urgent issue’s on the region’s agenda, as it can lead to “high levels of frustration,” that in turn can create greater problems.

The Executive Secretary for Integral Development also pointed out how “horizontal cooperation” has taken on added importance in recent decades as Member States have developed and as poverty has declined. “Thirty years ago,” he said, “our countries needed many things, mainly financial resources.” “But now we have changed so much, especially in the Caribbean and Latin American countries,” he continued, “that money is perhaps not our most important need.” While financial resources will always continue to be a need, he added, “the most important objective now is to share experiences about our specific responsibilities.”

The delegation from Jamaica is visiting the United States to share information about their “Steps to Work” and other employment initiatives, and to learn about best practices and other policy experiences. The agenda includes site visits to U.S. employment programs and technical exchanges on labor market information and employment exchanges, connecting youth to the labor market, and the monitoring and evaluation of labor market programs.

For his part, Denzil Thorpe, Director of Social Security in Jamaica’s Ministry of Labour and Social Security, thanked the OAS and the United States for hosting the delegation, and said “we too strongly believe that the best way for us to benefit is through dialogue, collaboration and consensus.” He said that the global economic downturn has been a “great challenge” for Jamaica, and that the delegation was looking forward to exchanging ideas on how best to respond.

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