H. E. RAYMOND O. WOLFE
PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF JAMAICA TO THE UNITED NATIONS
AT THE SIGNING OF A TRIPARTITE MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING
TO LAUNCH AN
INTERNATIONAL DESIGN COMPETITION
FOR THE PERMANENT MEMORIAL
TO HONOUR THE VICTIMS OF SLAVERY AND THE TRANSATLANTIC SLAVE TRADE
NEW YORK, 7 JULY 2011
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
Welcome and thank you for joining us for this special ceremony.
We are here this morning to witness a significant milestone in the journey towards erection of a memorial at the United Nations to honour the memory of the victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade.
The three main parties to the Memorandum of Understanding to be signed shortly are the Permanent Memorial Committee, the UN Office for Partnerships and UNESCO. For its part, the UNOP, as many of you are aware, administers the Trust Fund and provides the Committee with invaluable strategic guidance. The respective Chairs of CARICOM and the African group will also be co-signatories on the documents before us since jointly, we are leading the initiative here at the UN.
It has been a long journey which has lasted approximately four years, and for the past year-and-a-half we have been actively engaged in negotiations on the text of the Tripartite MoU, as well as the three Annexes, which provide a framework for collaboration, namely:
1. Project document and
2. criteria for artists to be selected
3. criteria for an international panel of Judges
I take this opportunity to congratulate Mme Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO, for embracing the project, taking a personal interest in it, and for exercising tremendous political leadership in steering the process to a conclusion. I would also like to place on record the view expressed by the members of the Committee that UNESCO is the most appropriate organization to oversee the international design competition. All stakeholders, including the members of the Committee, the Member States of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the African group which participated in the negotiations, are satisfied that UNESCO will manage a transparent, inclusive and politically impartial process. We believe that UNESCO’s reputation, international standing and its universal outreach make it eminently qualified for this undertaking.
During the course of our outreach and interaction with Member States, several colleagues have raised with me the question of what the monument would ultimately look like. This is a question that has also been raised by the corporate sector. I have to say that it would have been quite easy to find a sculptor or artist in Jamaica, or any other Caricom or African country, to provide us with a design. However, we felt that it was infinitely more important that an open, impartial process be established in which sculptors and/or artists around the world would have an equal opportunity to put themselves forward for selection, bearing in mind that this project is global in nature and has been endorsed by the entire membership of the United Nations. It is on this basis that we wholeheartedly support UNESCO’s management of the process.
In keeping with the documentation before us for signature, UNESCO will exclusively manage Phase I of the competition. In Phase I, UNESCO will disseminate information on the competition as widely as possible in line with the rules and regulations to be agreed with the Committee in short order, and thereafter, make a shortlist of 16 applicants. Phase II, will commence in New York when an international panel of independent Judges will be convened to review the 16 applications; make a further shortlist of 7 applicants, and subsequently select a winner. Of course, UNESCO will also be very involved in Phase II, particularly in the context of the mandates in General Assembly resolutions 64/15 and 65/239.
Consequently, the launch of the international design competition will enhance knowledge and awareness about the project globally, as well as propel us towards the commencement of the process beginning with the search for qualified artists, sculptors, and designers, leading up to the selection of a winner and the actual construction of the monument. The conclusion of the Tripartite MoU with UNESCO therefore places us on a new trajectory towards the realization of these objectives.
In closing, I would like to issue an appeal to all Member States following the launch of the international design competition, which we anticipate will take place in about a month or so, to encourage your Ministries of Foreign Affairs and your Ministries of Culture to become actively engaged in the selection process. We need your assistance to disseminate information about the competition as widely as possible so that a rich and diverse pool of applications can be submitted to UNESCO for consideration. In this regard, we will undertake to provide Member States with information about the launch, and the selection of applicants in due course.
Let me also thank those Member States that have already made contributions to the Trust Fund for the permanent memorial. As we move into this crucial phase, we encourage Member States which have not yet done so to make a contribution. In addition, we appeal to corporate donors and private individuals to contribute generously to the Trust Fund since what is urgently needed is an infusion of additional funding to help us to reach our goal of $4.5 million dollars.
I thank you.