Munro Student Wins United Nations Schools’ Essay Competition

The winner of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) Schools’ Essay Competition is upper sixth form student of Munro College, St. Elizabeth, Raheem Smith.

Upper sixth form student of Clarendon College, Kameesha Beecher, copped second place winner, while Shavine Briscoe, a student of Cornwall College, Montego Bay, placed third.

At a prize-giving ceremony held on Friday, December 14 at the offices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade in New Kingston, Mr. Smith expressed the view that the Convention should be included in the schools’ curriculum.

“Not many people are aware of it and so the essay was a form of allowing students to be aware of it. I think it should be incorporated in the school’s curriculum, because it is very important to the development of our country,” he told JIS News.

Mr. Smith made a power-point presentation on his recent trip to the United States, where he attended a Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on the Law of the Sea Convention held on December 10 and 11, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The five-day all expense paid trip, which was the first prize of the Competition, was sponsored by Caribbean Airlines Limited and members of the Jamaican diaspora in New York. Accommodation was secured by the Jamaica Consulate General in New York.

The sixth former said the research information for his essay under the theme, ‘Oceans for All; The World’s Common Heritage,’ was obtained from websites of the United Nations and the International Seabed Authority (ISA). Mr. Smith said he also received advice and assistance from his teacher and thanked the organizers and sponsors of the Competition.

“It was an experience that I will treasure for a lifetime. It was my first time in New York and I learnt a lot, especially being at the General Assembly for the first time. I’ll treasure the moments,” he said.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Ambassador Paul Robotham, said the Ministry was keen on raising awareness of the importance of the Convention and the fact that Jamaica is the headquarters for the International Seabed Authority (ISA), an autonomous international organisation established under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

“For a small country to be the headquarters for a big international institution is quite an achievement and something that all Jamaicans and school children should be proud of and this exercise should held to spread that message,” he said.

He pointed out that Jamaica was instrumental in negotiating the Convention including the late former Permanent Representative to the ISA, Dr. the Hon. Kenneth Rattray and President, International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Judge Patrick Robinson. The Permanent Secretary also mentioned the role being played by the Chairman of the 30th Anniversary Planning Committee and Deputy Permanent Representative of Jamaica to the International Seabed Authority (ISA), Coy Roache.

“He has been there all along and has made tremendous contribution to the development of this Convention and Jamaica’s participation in the Sessions,” he added.

Bringing greetings at the function, Principal Legal Officer at the ISA, Kening Zhang, who represented the Secretary General of the ISA, Nii Odunton, said the recipient of the second prize, Kameesha Beecher, will benefit from a three-week paid internship at the ISA during its annual Session in 2013.

He said Ms Beecher will enjoy “hands-on” experience of the work and meetings of the Authority.

The Competition was part of a year-long celebration for the 30th Anniversary of the Opening for signature of the Law of the Sea Convention. The Convention was opened for signature in Montego Bay on December 10, 1982 and attracted a record of 119 signatures, the largest number of signatures ever affixed to a treaty on its first day.