Regional Headquarters, Jamaica. Monday, July 31, 2017. The University of the West Indies (The UWI) has established a Centre for Reparations Research. Approved by the University’s Finance and General Purpose Committee earlier this year, it will be formally launched on October 10, 2017 at The UWI Regional Headquarters in Jamaica.
The Centre, which will be led by Professor Verene Shepherd, former Director of the Institute for Gender and Development Studies, co-Chair of the National Council on Reparation (Jamaica) and one of the three Vice Chairs of the CARICOM Reparations Commission, is based on a mandate of the 34th meeting of the CARICOM Heads of Government in 2013. At that meeting, the Heads of Government also agreed to create a CARICOM Reparations Commission along with national committees for reparations in each CARICOM member country.
To date, there are 12 national reparations committees all of which have been engaged in a range of activities designed to build public awareness on the issue of reparatory justice. The UWI Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles is Chair of the Commission.
The Centre for Reparations Research at The UWI will lead the implementation of CARICOM’s Reparatory Justice Programme, which broadly seeks to foster public awareness around the lasting and adverse consequences of European invasion of indigenous peoples’ lands, African enslavement and colonialism in the Caribbean; and offer practical solutions towards halting and reversing the legacies of such acts. These objectives stem from an understanding that many of the injustices and adverse effects of native genocide, African enslavement and colonialism in the region did not end with formal emancipation and independence and still need to be addressed and repaired.
More specifically, the Centre will focus on achieving three strategic goals:
- Promoting research on the legacies of enslavement, colonialism and native genocide in the Caribbean and on how to bring justice and positive transformation to these legacies with a particular focus on CARICOM’s Reparatory Justice programme;
- Working with national and regional reparation commissions and committees to promote education at The UWI and across Caribbean school systems on these legacies and the need for justice and repair;
- Promoting advocacy for reparatory and social justice by building a capacity to provide consultancies to CARICOM and other relevant institutions, raise public awareness and support activism around the Reparatory Justice programme.
In accepting The UWI’s request to lead the new Centre, Professor Shepherd praised the pioneers of the reparation movement, especially the Rastafari community, and expressed the hope that all who believe in social justice will unite around a cause that has the potential to achieve peace, reconciliation, socio-economic development and a sustainable future for the Caribbean.
In that respect, the Centre’s first major event will be a One-Day Reparations Symposium, carded for October 11, 2017. For further information on the Centre for Reparations Research, or the upcoming Reparations Symposium, please contact Dr. Ahmed Reid at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About The UWI
Since its inception in 1948, The University of the West Indies (UWI) has evolved from a fledgling college in Jamaica with 33 students to a full-fledged, regional University with well over 40,000 students. Today, UWI is the largest, most longstanding higher education provider in the Commonwealth Caribbean, with four campuses in Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Open Campus. The UWI has faculty and students from more than 40 countries and collaborative links with 160 universities globally; it offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science and Technology and Social Sciences. UWI’s seven priority focal areas are linked closely to the priorities identified by CARICOM and take into account such over-arching areas of concern to the region as environmental issues, health and wellness, gender equity and the critical importance of innovation.
(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)
One thought on “The UWI establishes Centre for Reparations Research”
Reparatory Justice is exactly what must, of right, be pursuit. But there are two ways in which to pursue this;
1. That which Britain owes and must pay; and
2. that which our CARICOM nations
owe and must pay.
As an African subject (also known as a Citizen) of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, 58 years of age, I know that our nation has never undertaken the task of repair for the people of African descent. A young African male in Trinidad and Tobago is one of, if not, the most endangered human being on the planet. He is the most likely to be murdered; he is at the bottom of all demographics in academic performance; he is the most of any demographic in prison…
I don’t know for the rest of CARICOM, but I do know that the Trinidad and Tobago Government, in collaboration with any national, regional or international body (such as CARICOM, the UN and their agencies), is simply playing games.
The legacies of slavery is alive and well in Trinidad and Tobago and, this time, the very leaders, the champions of reparation all over the region and the world, are the perpetrators of the worst forms of alienation, marginalization, discrimination, suppression and brutalization of people of African descent in their “own country”.
But, what can you (CRR/CRC) do when you are the very instrument these leaders are using to mask their sinister operations at home?
Are you not aware that power was never removed from the hands of the slave masters? That right up to independence in Trinidad and Tobago, the slave masters retained direct command over African People. Then, at independence, they transferred shadow command to some negroes, who are, to paraphrase Marx, the executive committee of the masters.
When we became Independent, not only did we retain all the laws of Britain (Section 3 of the Constitution), we ensured that the laws of the periods of slavery and colonialism became the controlling standards, the criteria by which all laws of our beloved country must be judged (Section 6)… effectively and permanently entrenching and protecting the interest of the slave masters and their descendants.
This is not to condemn your work or discourage it. It is to point out that if your work is not focused, also, inwardly to the ongoing atrocities being committed against people of African descent, on a daily basis in Trinidad and Tobago, by our own “caring” government, then it will be, what I identified to our President as, “complete, unadulterated indulgence in hypocrisy”… for as it stands, the conditions of the African is destine to remain as they are in Trinidad and Tobago, or even become worse, unless Britain gives our governments money to see about our education, health, poverty, homelessness, mismanagement, corruption… How absurd!
If there was equity, there might not have been need for reparatory (justice), then and now. How can our government continue to give most of what we have as “patrimony” to all others while plotting mass incarceration, a new maximum security prison and a more efficient transportation system to and from prison for our future, our young African men?
“Tax yuh brain” (mother used to say).
Reparation at home must be pursued simultaneously with that from Britain, but it must be implemented first, now!