Eastern Standard Time UTC/GMT -5 hours
Capital City Kingston
Currency Jamaican dollar
National Day 6 August
Jamaica’s High Commissioner Mr Seth G. Ramocan has acknowledged that his recent audience with Her Majesty the Queen far superseded any other moment in his diplomatic career. As a child, he recalls observing pictures of his then Prime Minister Alexander Bustamante being knighted by The Queen when Jamaica achieved independence in 1962. “Almost 55 years later, I was honoured to go to Buckingham Palace myself. It was a very symbolic moment. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to meet Her Majesty who plays such an important role in the world, and one that is likely to become even more significant in these times.”
In his downtime, the High Commissioner enjoys reading on philosophy, psychology and religion, and “taking a walk, appreciating the simple things in life and thinking about the significance of our existence.”
Arriving here in December last year – just a few months after the UK’s vote to leave the EU – Mr Ramocan describes the present state of affairs as “an unpredictable environment. Nobody clearly knows what the outcome might be, and how it is going to affect us all.” He continues: “In Jamaica’s case, we must continue to deepen and strengthen the warm relationships we have enjoyed with both the UK and Europe respectively. It’s a big moment for the whole world, but from our perspective in the Caribbean and as a Commonwealth member, Jamaica hopes to see the British people succeed as they pursue their new direction. So far, the interactions, discussions and outlooks have been very cordial.”
Unusually for a diplomat, Mr Ramocan’s career has followed the path of an ordained pastor, counselling psychologist, entrepreneur and public servant. In fact, Mr Ramocan explained that his political career in Jamaica began in the late1970s. He was so taken aback by a political statement made by a former diplomat that he was inspired to mount a demonstration. Generating a large following, he went on to take part in local government elections, and was later appointed as a Senator by the government. During his time in the Jamaican parliament Mr Ramocan also served as Executive Director for the Jamaica Institute for Political Education, established by Germany’s Konrad Adenauer Foundation, with the aim of promoting democracy in the country. The role involved training political candidates, as well as various activities with the diplomatic corps and leading delegations of parliamentarians to Germany for discussions with their counterparts. In 1984, Mr Ramocan was a guest of the US National Democratic Convention. He was also a founding member of the Eastern Caribbean Institute for Democracy and the Caribbean Youth Conference.
A devoted pastor, Mr Ramocan was invited by his Prime Minister to be Jamaica’s Consul General in Toronto (2009-14). His work focused on improving Jamaica’s image. “I used our 50th anniversary of independence as an opportunity to build awareness of the Jamaican-Canadian community’s wonderful achievements.”
Mr Ramocan credits his experience working as a pastor, psychologist and public servant with helping him “empathise with a person’s circumstances. This allows me to develop relationships at both bilateral and community levels. I regularly utilise these skills in both my pastoral and diplomatic work.”
His pastoral work continues here in the UK where Mr Ramocan conducts various bible studies classes. In terms of diplomatic work, the High Commissioner is pursuing Jamaica’s objective “to become a developed country by 2030, calling for economic growth, investment, and strengthening relationships with the UK, (as well as other countries).” He’ll be working closely with the Jamaican Tourist Board and the government’s trade and investment promotion arm JAMPRO at the mission. Jamaica’s diaspora (up to 800,000 people) is central to this objective. “By definition, a developed country requires a strong middle class, and a significant portion of Jamaica’s middle-class population lives in its diaspora. Jamaicans themselves are some of the best ambassadors for their country.”
Mr Ramocan believes that Jamaica’s greatest diplomatic challenge is “managing the delicate balance between strengthening bilateral relations, while maintaining a principled foreign policy. In the long run,” he continues, “this means that Jamaica is a credible and trustworthy partner.
“These big goals mean I have quite a lot of work ahead!” he exclaims. But the High Commissioner explains that he’s thankful that he has his Deputy, the career diplomats and his supportive team working at the High Commission to rely on. “We are working together.”
High Commissioner is also accredited to Sweden, Norway, Ireland, Cyprus, Denmark and Finland.
Executive Director of the Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission, Marghoob Butt, says the international community must unite to defeat anti-religious hatred