Opposition legislator, Dr Floyd Morris, has become the first Jamaican to be elected to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
“Thanks to the Government of Jamaica… for their tremendous support. Most importantly, thanks to God for His goodness and love,” Morris tweeted, following his election late Monday.
“I am really humbled and honoured,” Morris said on Radio Jamaica’s Beyond the Headlines.
Morris, 51, who is blind, is a lecturer and director of the Centre for Disability Studies at University of the West Indies, was among nine people elected to the committee to replace those whose terms are due to expire on December 31.
In 1998, he was appointed to the Jamaican Senate by then prime minister PJ Patterson, becoming its first blind member. He served in the Senate until 2007. Morris was appointed president of the Senate in May 2013.
The committee is a body of independent experts who monitor the implementation of the Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by the states which are signatories.
Morris was among nine new members elected to the committee to replace those whose terms are due to expire on December 31. Tenure on the committee is for four years.
Last Friday, the opposition Senator told the Senate that he was looking forward “with great anticipation” to the vote and expressed his thanks to the Andrew Holness government for its support.
He told legislators that even if there is a negative outturn it wouldn’t be through a lack of trying or effort on the part of the Government of Jamaica, “because they have really put all their support mechanisms behind me and I am really appreciative”.
Earlier, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Kamina Johnson Smith, who has been leading the charge for his election through the efforts of her ministry and overseas diplomatic staff, expressed her confidence that Morris will make the cut, with the support of the 15 Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries involved, as well as a number of other countries who had signalled their intention to vote for the Jamaican candidate since last week.
”I sought and obtained the endorsement from CARICOM for Dr Morris’ candidature, and this, of course, leads him towards other support groups who tend to take note when CARICOM has given its full endorsement as a body of 15,” she told the Senate.
Approximately 180 members of the UN were eligible to vote to select nine new members of the CRPD from a field of about 29 candidates at the organisation’s headquarters in New York City.
In accordance with articles 34, paragraphs 4, 5, 6 and 7 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, there is a need to select the nine new members of the CRPD to replace those whose terms are due to expire on December 31, 2020. Tenure on the committee is for four years.