As we write this Blog on the 51st anniversary of World Earth day, 40 world leaders are engaged in a Virtual Climate Summit convened by President Joseph Biden. The aims among others, are to galvanize efforts by the world’s major economies to keep a limit of global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and to protect lives and livelihoods from the impacts of climate change. His aspirational goal for USA is to achieve net zero by 2050. It seemed to simulate positive responses from China and many other countries including Russia. Reinstating the USA in the 2015 Paris Agreement as one the first acts of his Presidency indicates a serious intent to respond to the science which shows that threats of climate change are mounting. Global average temperatures are rising. There is increased frequency and severity of extreme weather events, such as heatwaves, droughts, floods, winter storms, hurricanes and wildfires. All these affect the health and safety of communities around the world. According to a recent report from the UN, without urgent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero and invest in sustainable development, climate change could push 100 million people into extreme poverty in the next decade.
Earth Day was initiated on April 22, 1970 in the USA with demonstrations involving 20 million Americans against dangerously serious issues such as: toxic drinking water, air pollution, and the effects of pesticides. It led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, provided a model for other countries and introduced laws such as the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act. Despite these efforts, carbon emissions have increased worldwide due to human abuse of the environment. The world’s tropical forests, a reservoir for trapping carbon emissions are rapidly being destroyed. So have the natural habitat of wildlife species. Conserving and restoring tropical forests and wildlife are among the most immediate steps necessary to reduce the risk of future pandemics.
What is more, biodiversity that underpins all life on Earth from the genetic make up of plants and animals to cultural diversity is under serious attack. WHO’s state of knowledge report jointly published with the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) fully amplifies the health consequences of biodiversity loss and change. https://www.who.int/publications-detail-redirect/connecting-global-priorities-biodiversity-and-human-health . They show that the impact on nutrition, new infectious diseases and on the shifts in the distribution of plants, pathogens, animals, and even human settlements, are all affected by climate change. This is why international organizations, national governments, and companies are spending some 95 percent of their climate-related investment on carbon emission reductions. But those efforts will serve to prevent only the worst-case scenarios. The fact is that climate change has already done a great deal of damage and that more harmful effects will be impossible to avert altogether.
World leaders at the Biden Summit on Climate Change have mostly referred to high tech solutions such as solar panels, electric vehicles, targets to transition to on-grid services and new construction, farming and battery technologies. Yet reducing emissions is just half the battle. The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, shows how restoring our damaged ecosystems will help to end poverty, combat climate change and prevent mass extinction. Fortunately, most of the adjustments needed to lessen their impact are not difficult. Many adaptations do not require new technology. Nor do they have to pass through ‘the political minefield of international climate action’. Instead, many simply require citizens to take the initiative in their local communities.
Two illustrations from the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region are pertinent.
First, St Lucia has just launched a stimulating 4-minute animated video designed to raise public awareness about climate change. Second, Latin America and the Caribbean 24 states are signatories, while 12 have ratified the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters known as the Escazú Agreement
came into force on World’s Earth Day 2021. It also commemorates International Mother Earth Day. To mark the occasion, the UN Secretary General says “we must act decisively to protect our planet from both the coronavirus and the existential threat of climate disruption”. This statement aptly describes the stark reality of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines currently in a major crisis from La Soufrière, silent since 1979, that combines a volcanic eruption, its largest COVID-19 surge since the pandemic, the region’s worst Dengue outbreak in recent history, and a new, possibly deadly, hurricane season. With further eruptions expected in the coming weeks, experts believe that the growing humanitarian crisis will last months. The UN launching a $29.2 million global funding appeal is an illustration of Global solidarity.
However, it was Prime Minister Brown of Antigua and Barbuda speaking on behalf of the the 44 members of the Alliance of Small Island States (OASIS) at the Summit, that highlighted the fact these countries contributing just 1.5 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions of industrialized nations, are the most affected by climate change. Yet many of them have already begun to roll out ambitious programmes to reduce their small carbon footprint, particularly in renewable energy. He made the economic case for concessional financing for small states based on unsustainable levels of debt because of repeated borrowings to rebuild and recover from continuous debilitation by natural disasters, arising from climate change. He also advocated for dismantling the false criterion of middle and high per capita income countries, which ignores the huge vulnerabilities that small states face. “This requires action to design new and innovative financial instruments and to provide debt relief, including debt cancellation, debt suspension, debt rescheduling, debt restructuring and debt-for-climate swap.” He also called for funding to compensate for damage to help reconstruct the AOSIS economies and funding to acquire decarbonized technologies to assist in building resilience. These demands are by no means new or novel but they require restating. Now is the time for more collective advocacy by AOSIS in the run up to the Climate Change Conference of the Parties in Glasgow in December 2021.
Again as was the case at the Climate Change debates at the UN in September 2019, it was the voice of youth on the problem and the need to “Restore our Earth” that resonated through Greta Thunberg’s:
Professor Patricia Anderson shines a light on Masculinity and Fathering with implications for Reimagining Gender RelationsRead Now
Patricia Anderson Masculinity and Fathering in Jamaica
The University of the West Indies Press, Jamaica, 2021
This is a groundbreaking study of fathering in Jamaica but with importance for understanding the essence of gender relations in the Caribbean. It draws on the classic works and approaches advanced by leading sociologists and anthropologists including Raymond Smith (1956), George Roberts (1957), Edith Clarke (1957), Lloyd Brathwaite (1960), Michael Smith (1962). It also builds on the more recent work of Christine Barrow (1996) among others. Most important is the prominence it gives to pioneering unpublished and unfinished work of Professor Barry Chevannes and a study, Contribution of Caribbean men to the Family (1991) by Janet Brown, two excerpts from which are included in this book. This study carefully documents the range of the literature on the Afro-Caribbean family structure and gender relations in the Caribbean, the historical experiences rooted in slavery and the colonial system. It sets the scene for comprehending some key areas of research including sexuality, family building, outside children, domestic roles, conflict and violence, gender relations, men’s family bonds, their attachment to peer groups and the overall impact of these factors on the essential component of fathering. It highlights how fathering opens the rocky experience of being fathered, not fathered, or not very well fathered. These may joyous or painful.
Focus on Fathering
This book fills a void by drawing attention to patterns of fathering that hitherto have been scanty. It faithfully conveys the social worlds of fathers by illustrations of their unfiltered sentiments and views. In so doing, Professor Anderson produces material that is rich with fathering and parenting Identities. They challenge the anecdotal interpretations of the social worlds of Jamaican fathers. For example, they shatter the overwhelming opinion of male dominance that has often overshadowed the need to explore the factors shaping male behavior. It does this through community surveys and qualitative research that explore issues such as the essence of gender socialization of the average Jamaican father; and the failure to question the validity or cause of male absence from the "domestic sphere”. It seeks answers to questions such as: Can men be good fathers and bad husbands? How do men feel about their children, about women, their partners, their daughters, their own mothers and their fathering activities?
It is intriguing to note the methodology used in this study that relates fathering to gender relations by measuring two sets of values: fathering identity and macho identity. In this respect, the values of fathering depend on (a) whether they themselves were well or poorly fathered; (b) relations with their partners or “baby mothers" and (c) interactions with their children. There are other views that contribute to understanding what men contribute to their communities that make their lives and success as fathers?. These include their views of women, childbearing and gender roles.
The authenticity of this study is bolstered by its choice of locating its survey of men’s attitudes and values in four communities based on a range social class differences, with variations in family structure and implications for gender relations. What is fascinating from my understanding of the results of this survey is that:
The Intrigues of Masculinity
Another intriguing element of this study is its focus on masculinity. The construct here is: what it means to be a man against which to be judged by the community and which pressures men and boys to engage in conduct that reproduces social inequalities? The conclusion is that there is no single ideal but there are some common traits like breadwinner, control of emotions, being respected, avoiding feminism, risk taking, toughness, violence, heterosexuality and heterosexism. Masculinity also displays an expressed aversion to homosexuality and direct relations to homophobia. It is, in addition associated with a range of behaviors from sexual harassment to domestic and sexual violence and non-relational sex (without emotional involvement).
Convergence and Contradictions
What therefore emerges is the reality that Jamaican men cling to two sets of values —Fathering and Masculinity — which are inherently contradictory. In the former, the attributes of 'fathering identity' include involvement in parenting styles among which are challenges of discipline, time and talking together, teaching and nurturing. The macho identity is aligned to liming or drinking spots and the streets represent a sense of being in control, so essential to men. It is a form of social organization that is informal and not kinship based. While masculinity defines gender distinction and power relations between men and women, fathering focuses on the power relations with the husband-father role. But it is important to note that these distinctions tend to break down as more women enter the workforce and fathers take more responsibilities in the socialization of their children.
Professor Patricia Anderson must be congratulated for this outstanding work. It is essential reading especially as we contemplate further challenges to family life and gender relations in the persistent COVID-19 era and beyond. We are grateful for the wisdom portrayed in this book. It tells us that the main dimensions which fathers identified as being central to their role are responsibility, economic maintenance, love and emotional support, nurturing and setting an example. It identifies the consistency with which Jamaican fathers representing a range of social classes articulated their understanding of fatherhood. It establishes clearly that these values represent a common cultural core. What in addition this study brings to the fore is the impact of harsh economic conditions in unmistakable limiting the ability of Jamaican men to translate their fathering commitment into active and continuing involvement. This socioeconomic indicator is perhaps an important pivot in the reimagining of gender studies in the Caribbean which is the subject for a follow up discussion. Professor Anderson’s summary carried on the cover of the book provides the most sanguine conclusion:
“Across the social class Jamaican men share a common cultural conception of what is required to be a good father. However they are also tied to definitions of hegemonic masculinity which emphasize male dominance and virility so that domestic conflict maybe inevitable and men’s aspirations to be good fathers may become imperiled. Given these countervailing values there is a struggle to find a reasonable fit. The study concludes that it is possible for Jamaican men to be good fathers but bad husbands”
What a pleasure is has been to listen to the voices of Caribbean youth leaders at the 10th Economic and Social Council Youth Forum sponsored by the UN, April 7-8, 2021. It is clear that they "Get It." They advocated for building resilience, drive, creativity and leadership in participating in the decade of action to deliver the Sustainable development Goals (SDGs). In his opening statement to the Forum, H.E. Mr. Munir Akram, President of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) makes the case that: "The future belongs to you, the youth. We need your energy, your ideals, your boldness, your imagination, your innovation, to build the structure of a peaceful, prosperous and equal world order”
Youth in the COVID-19 Era: What are they responding to?
The Forum began on April 7th which coincided with World Health Day, highlighting the immense impacts that COVID-19 on young people around the world:
The forum also takes place in a year when COVID-19 has had multidimensional health, economic and social impacts globally. In Latin America and the Caribbean gross domestic product has declined 7-7% in 2020, poverty effects 231million people with an increase of 28.5 million people living in extreme poverty.
How are the Challenges facing Youth being tackled?
At the special Caribbean Youth Regional Table within the Forum (April 8) the panelists (listed at the end) highlighted the need to view good health and wellbeing in the broadest context of the WHO mission of health as embracing physical, mental and social well-being. In the Caribbean as in the entire Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region, the challenge is the triple burden of food insecurity, malnutrition and obesity. The closing of schools for example, has had a negative impact on those vulnerable youth and households. The UN Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG) Survey, 2020 for LAC shows that 31% of young people suffered from shortage of food with 16 percent from households without resources to buy food. In addition, 52% of young people expressed experiencing greater stress, 47% of having panic attacks during the lock down and more than 50% of those living with HIV stopped accessing antiretroviral treatment. There was also a recognition that the migrant populations were particularly affected due to structural victimization. These factors were compounded by a lack of adequate economic responses, largely due to the fact that many Caribbean countries are dependent on tourism whose revenue stream both for governments and the private sector, is highly compromised. The Youth Leaders were aware that the need to procure loans to cushion the economic crisis will increase the burden of debt repayment which their generation would have to bear. Consequently, they supported the new Special Drawing Rights proposed by the IMF. The dilemmas for many Caribbean countries are that they do not have a system of universal unemployment insurance and lack other adequate social safety net programs.
The Caribbean Regional Table pointed to comparable challenges resulting from the inequities in access to education that were magnified by digitization, resulting in an increasing number of less privileged children and young people being left behind. This level of vulnerability is even more so when the differently abled are added to the mix. Then there is a different dimension to digitization which plagues many Caribbean societies. Several processes that enhance more effective ways of doing business requiring digitization are lacking. These include implementing online banking, online accounting, and other financial and operational procedures. Even when they exist, uneven access again negatively affects the marginalized individuals and communities the most.
Why Caribbean youth "Get It"
The Caribbean Youth advanced several worthwhile recommendations which focused on 5 key issues each of which provided an understanding of the different youth platforms used to respond to the pandemic, the challenges and priorities related to specific aspects of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. They include:
The Caribbean Youth Regional Table Session concluded that these and other challenges, must be addressed comprehensively and coherently. They are the vitality of leadership capabilities by their active involvement in several initiatives for overcoming the challenges of COVID-19. They have advocated for the Caribbean to act collectively, engage youth in the policy formulation, and include youth more actively and less as tokenism in the business of the Caribbean Community. And through collective Caribbean action, they call for establishing the dynamics to foster international cooperation, especially by fully utilizing and strengthening the United Nations – the world’s only universal organization – and by reinforcing respect for its fundamental principles of Justice for All.
Reflecting on the history of youth development in the Caribbean, it is revealing that in 2018, the UN Secretary-General launched the first-ever UN system-wide Youth Strategy. This is 8 years after the Caribbean Youth Ambassadors strategy: The Eye on the Future was presented to CARICOM Heads of Government in Suriname. That strategy evolved in an era when many CARICOM Member and Associate Member States included CARICOM Youth Ambassadors in their country delegations to the Heads of Government Conference. More recently, CARICOM Secretary General, Ambassador Irwin Larocque valiantly convened annual CYA Forums and the Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV/AIDS sponsored a series of engagements involving CYAs in its Justice for All Programme. But significant results require activities designed to achieve, youth resilience be institutionalized and budgeted for. The current discussion of Caribbean Youth Leaders at the UN Youth Forum 2021, and their articulation for action toward sustainable development deserve the fullest attention by CARICOM Heads of Government. An appropriate message is delivered by the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres to the UN Youth Forum 2021. Watch the video:
Participants in the Caribbean Youth Leaders at the Latin American and Caribbean Regional Table
Dominique Noralez (Belize) & Java Sealy (Barbados)-- Co-Chairs
Franz George, Commonwealth Youth Council; Roshanna Trim, Caribbean Regional Youth Council; Representatives of Caribbean Youth Councils: Christopher Laurie, Kurba-Marie Questell, Pryia Khan , Claudia Taboada, Delano DaSouza.
I saw at first hand the miraculous micro-sculptures of Jamaican-born Willard Wigan at an exhibition, “Art in the Eye of a Needle” at the Parish Gallery, Washington, DC on January 3, 2013. It was an unbelievable revelation of the genius of the human spirit. Viewing this exhibition required a microscope. The intriguing story of a young boy in England whose teacher proclaimed him “a dunce, destined to go nowhere” and who emerged with highest acclaim in the World of Art is featured in the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity (August 2020).https://dyslexia.yale.edu/story/willard-wigan/
In 2007, this young dyslexic and creative young man was decorated with one of the highest awards given to citizens from the British Government, a Member of Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his contributions to the Art Community. He has also recently been proclaimed in the Guinness Book of Record (2020) as having produced the smallest ever sculpture in the World. He attributes his success to his Jamaican mother who urged him to aspire to greatness through “small things” applying discipline in conquering physical and mental demands. Those of you who have not heard or read of Willard Wigan may find both the feature from the You-Tube production of his feats (below) a worthwhile investment of your time (you will encounter many ads during the You-Tube but should find it most rewarding to persevere to the end) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8cJAIzBs-U
GOFAD wishes you a happy Easter!
Wilson Harris was born in 1921 in New Amsterdam, in what was then British Guiana, on 24 March, 1921, and died March 8, 2018. He is considered one of the most original writers of the twentieth century, for his fiction, essays, and poems that explore human history, metaphysics, and the natural world. According to the obituary in The London Guardian "his was an inimitable style, dense with metaphor, symbolism, and mythological reference". He received a Knighthood in June 2017 from the Queen for his services to literature.
The Genesis of a Magical Writer
After Harris' marriage to Cecily Carew in 1945 ended in divorce, he emigrated to England in 1959, met and married Scottish writer Margaret Burns who died in 2010. He became a full-time writer, involved in lecturing and teaching creative writing classes at various universities in the United States and other countries. The Ramson Center in Texas which houses the vast collection of works has this to say: “Harris’s personal experiences with the complex Guyanese landscape and multi-racial culture influenced his writing. His novels, known for their abstract and experimental nature, are full of metaphors and complex symbolism, with an intermingling of time, reality, imagination, memory, and dreams; they have been called “psychical expeditions”.
Culling from a series of articles on this renowned writer, it is important to note the extent to which his earlier profession as a land surveyor before leaving Guyana for England influenced his thinking and writing. His exploration of the dense forests, rivers and vast savannahs of the Guyanese hinterland for example, features prominently in the settings of his fiction. According to a recent article by Faber and Faber, the English publishers of many of his works, "Harris' novels are complex, alluding to diverse mythologies from different cultures, and eschew conventional narration in favour of shifting interwoven voices".
Establishing a Class by Himself
Among the wide range of his works is the novel, Palace of the Peacock (1960), the first of The Guyana Quartet, which includes The Far Journey of Oudin (1961), The Whole Armour (1962) and The Secret Ladder (1963). They formed the basis of a magnificent series of lectures he gave to overflowing audiences at the Sir Phillip Sherlock Cultural Center, UWI Mona in 1984. But many others followed: including, The Carnival Trilogy (Carnival (1985), The Infinite Rehearsal (1987) and The Four Banks of the River of Space (1990), Jonestown (1996), which tells of the mass-suicide of a thousand followers of cult leader Jim Jones, The Dark Jester (2001), a semi-autobiographical novel, The Mask of the Beggar (2003), and one of his most accessible novels (for me easier to read and amusing), The Ghost of Memory (2006). But there were many more of which the best resources on his life and work from across the web can be found on: https://www.bocaslitfest.com/wilson-harris-at-100/
Wilson Harris also wrote non-fiction and critical essays and has been awarded honorary doctorates by several universities, including the University of the West Indies (1984) and the University of Liège (2001). He has twice been winner of the Guyana Prize for Literature. Harris won the Guyana National Prize for Literature in 1987 and 2002. On his 95th birthday, a year before he died he gave an interview to the BBC, erudite and incisive which truly establishes his pedigree with the description, “writer as magician”.
Keeping his Pedigree Alive
Moray House Trust with support from the NGC Bocas Lit Fest will premiere “The Unfinished Genesis of the Imagination”. It is an excerpt from a dramatic work in progress that compares two approaches to social change in the Caribbean: Wilson Harris’s dreamworld of the creative imagination and Walter Rodney’s more grounded approach on Saturday March 27, 2021 at 6.00 p.m. Guyana time. This excerpt explores the radical imagining championed by Wilson Harris. See video production at youtube.com/bocaslitfest, facebook.com/bocaslitfest, or here on our Wilson Harris at 100 webpage, They aptlyexplore "the groundbreaking, mind-expanding work of Harris through videos, texts, images, and sound recordings, including an excerpt from his novel, Heartland, courtesy Peepal Tree Press".
Two decades after the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action from the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in 2001, International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on 21 March each year, is a reminder of the persistence of systemic racial discrimination that continues to strangle the rights of people of African descent to equal services, quality education, decent work and meaningful participation. This Year the theme is appropriately Youth Standing up against Racism.
Recognizing the 20th anniversary of the Durban Declaration, sparks a reflection on a period of my career when I had recently joined the staff of the CARICOM Secretariat (in 2000) and thrust into a coordinating role in the preparatory consultations for the Region's participation in the September 2001 Durban Conference in South Africa. The CARICOM Delegation was led by Hon Mia Mottley, then Minister of Education, Youth and Culture of Barbados. It included representatives from several governments and NGOs across the Caribbean region, UWI, and significantly, the recently formed CARICOM Youth Ambassadors (CYAs). Having to coordinate and present the CARICOM Secretariat's paper at a joint CARICOM-UWI Forum at UWI St Augustine in March 2000, created a deep awareness of the entrenched harms inflicted by racism over generations.
The 2000 CARICOM paper called upon States to honour the memory of victims of the historical injustices of slavery, the slave trade, including the transatlantic slave trade, colonialism and apartheid. It recognized that the contemporary genesis for the world’s commemorating the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on 21 March, is because on that day in 1960, the police in Sharpeville, South Africa, opened fire and killed Youth leader Steve Bikko among 69 people at a peaceful demonstration against apartheid "pass laws".
The South Africa atrocity converged with and amplified the advocacy for the Black Power movement in the USA inspired by Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael of the Student Coordinating Committee and Angela Davis, Huey Newton and Bobby Seale of the Black Panther Party. The Black Power Movement took root in the Caribbean in Trinidad and Tobago (1968-1969), coinciding with my first year on the staff of UWI St Augustine. It provides a vivid reminder of the power of youth leadership of Geddes Granger (later, Makakndal Daaga) and Khafra Khambon of the National Joint Action Committee (NJAC) which was aligned to the UWI St Augustine Guild of Undergraduates that sparked major social reforms introduced by the PNM government led by Dr Eric Williams. The historical events, their socio-economic and political results are aptly analyzed in Selwyn Ryan memoirs, Ryan Recalls reviews in GOFAD by Compton Bourne (11/11/2019). It helps us to understand the ripple effects of Apartheid through the Sharpeville protests, the Black Power movement in the USA and its contagious effects in the Caribbean. Important fragments are the Rodney riots led by UWI Students following his deportation from Jamaica and the emergence of Rosie Douglas who led the students protest at Sir George William University (now Concordia University) See Micheal O West History vs. Historical Memory: Rosie Douglas, Black Power on Campus, and the Canadian Color Conceit (2017)
The tenor of the international Black Power movement and its militancy differed from the earlier nonviolent protests in the USA. Among them were the Montgomery bus boycott led by Martin Luther King in the winter of 1959, resulting in the arrest of Rosa Parks and the March to over the Edmund Pettus Bridge that crossed the Alabama River out of Selma led by John Lewis and Hosea Williams on “Bloody Sunday” March 7, 1965 . The latter event is recorded in detail in Chapter 5 Bloody Sunday in John Lewis, Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Civil Rights Movement 1998.
The case of the US is the starkest evidence of the long history of humanity's struggle to end racism and racial discrimination. Events over the past year signal a critical moment afflicting the entire world and have heightened the urgency of action to end the scourge of racism, which in words of the Antonio Gutterres Secretary-General, "violates the UN Charter and debases us all as human beings”. He is of course referring to the escalation of deep rage at the violence, injustice, abuse and unfairness faced by millions as protests rock cities around the world.
This feature is compounded by the spread of the Coronavirus in early 2020, as a parallel pandemic was unleashed to that of hatred, violence and fear against certain ethnicities and nationalities. It quickly became clear that stark inequities, sometimes rooted in racism, had subjected minorities to a significantly higher risk of infection and death.
Young people again massively showed their support at the 2020 Black Lives Matter marches, which drew millions of demonstrators worldwide. On the streets, groundswells of youth - mostly teens and twenty-somethings - came together to protest against racial injustice. On social media, they mobilized participation, calling on their peers to speak out, and to stand up for the equal rights and justice for all.
The socio economic impact of COVID-19 points to very stark racial disparities. In the USA for example, infection, hospitalization and death rates amongst people of African descent are respectively triple, five times and double the rates seen amongst white Americans. American life expectancy dropped a full year due to the pandemic – but the life expectancy of Black Americans declined by 2.7 years. In the United Kingdom, women and men of African descent were four times more likely to die of COVID-19 than white people. The pandemic's impact on the livelihoods and income of people from minority communities has been massively disproportionate, in every region.
Pulitzer Prize Winner Isabel Wilkerson in her recent book, Caste:The Origins of Our Discontent, explains that the pervasiveness of the caste is not limited to India but also applicable to racism in the USA. She states that: “long before the the American Revolution, a human hierarchy had evolved on the contested soil of what would become the United States, a concept of birthright, the temptation of entitled expansion that would set the world’s first democracy and with it then ranking of human value and usages”. But most important is her drawing on the comprehensive work of Swedish social economist, Gunner Myrdal. He concluded that America created a caste system to maintain a color line that to the ordinary white man functions to uphold the caste system for keeping the negro in his place. In other words for Myrdal the most accurate term to describe the workings of American society is not race but caste.
Wilkerson's brilliant book provides the answers to questions asked in previous GOFAD blogs such as: How did Donald Trump receive so many votes? What is the link between cultism and racism? Why is white supremacy so pervasive? It also explains the vulgar display of white nationalism and white insurrectionism on January 6, 2021 inspired by Donald Trump and for which with complicity, Republicans in both the House of Representatives and Senate conspired against convicting him.
Youth Leadership Taking a Stand
It is against this general background that youth leadership is required to find the formula for taking action. Among the broad range of activities on which to pivot the following are put forward for consideration:
I vividly recall the tragedy in the 1962 film of "To Kill a Mockingbird,” with Gregory Peck based on Lee Harper’s book which no doubt represents thousands of true-life stories just like it, that could only come in a racist society. The black man in the story clearly could not have committed the crimes of which he was accused, but the all-white jury simply would not acquit him, instead sending him to prison, where he would be shot "trying to escape." These types of stories are part of the hateful legacy of racism that have persisted to day in George Floyd, Breana Taylor and others, who, except for racism, did not have to die.
In her heart-wrenching debut memoir, Why the Caged Birds Sing, Maya Angelou shares her experience with racism and bigotry and how she turned to literature and her own inner strength to help her survive. For those who need their lessons couched in story, you can't go wrong with Maya Angelou.
A Year After Declaring COVID-19 an Epidemic: It's Time to Take the World from the Brink of a Catastrophic Moral FailureRead Now
March 11, 2021 is a landmark in the history of COVID-19. It marks one year since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak, a pandemic. It is also a defining moment in the USA when President Biden signed the US$1.9B American Rescue Plan (Relief Bill) giving hope for the economic and social redemption to many citizens and small businesses. This anniversary also coincides with a period when due to the collective scientific response, there is a better understanding of the crisis and the rollout of vaccines. Yet there remains cynicism in some quarters of whether the world is better prepared for the next pandemic and the lessons learned from the failures of detection, preparation, and cooperation; political repercussions; and missteps that have resulted in 2.6 million deaths worldwide and 528,000 in the USA.
Preparing for the next Pandemic
According to an article "How the Pandemic Changed the World" (Foreign Affairs, March 10, 2021), time is running out in “Preparing for the Next Pandemic.” This preparation, it advocates, requires governments, businesses and public health leaders acting now with decisiveness and purpose to avoid another global catastrophe. “Terrible as it is, COVID-19 should serve as a warning of how much worse a pandemic could be—and spur the necessary action to contain an outbreak before it is again too late”. The article refers to a 2017 book (which I haven’t read) Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs by MICHAEL T. OSTERHOLM and MARK OLSHAKER, two notable scientists. The Book accordingly illustrates the epidemiology of SARS, MERS, and a number of other recent outbreaks—the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic that started in Mexico, the 2014–16 Ebola epidemic in West Africa, the 2015–16 spread of the Zika flavivirus from the Pacific Islands to North and South America. It states that although the diseases differed from one another in different ways including their clinical presentations and, degree of severity and clinical presentation, they all came as surprises when they shouldn’t have.
Politics and Security Fears Crippling the Collective Response
Politics and security fears have been characterized by Yanzhong Huang in Foreign Affairs (January 28, 2021) as crippling the collective global response. Within months of COVID-19’s initial discovery in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, Trump, took to calling COVID-19 the “China virus,” blaming Beijing for having “instigated a global pandemic.” Chinese state media fired back, insisting that “though COVID-19 was first discovered in China, it does not mean that it originated from China". Now Biden’s pledge to hold a summit of democracies to tackle COVID-19 aimed at asserting US diplomatic leadership of the free world, risks reinforcing this divisive narrative, carving the globe into two political camps in the face of a common global challenge. Amid the current pandemic, governments have repeatedly forsaken opportunities for consultation, joint planning, and collaboration, opting instead to adopt nationalist stances that have put them at odds with one another and with the WHO. The result has been a near-total lack of global policy coherence.
The Dismal Multilateral Response to the Pandemic
This reflects, in part, the decisions of specific leaders, especially Chinese President Xi Jinping and former U.S. President Donald Trump. Their behavior helps explain why the WHO struggled in the initial stages of the outbreak and why forums for multilateral coordination, such as the G-7, the G-20, and the UN Security Council, failed to rise to the occasion. This is contrasted with an era when the multilateral ecosystem of global public health arrangements blossomed alongside the WHO and its International Health Regulations, including the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (now called GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance), the Global Health Security Agenda, the World Bank’s Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility, and the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The uncoordinated, chaotic, and state-centric international response to COVID-19 sharply contrasted with the international response to the 2009 H1N1 pandemic and to the 2014 Ebola outbreak. In 2009, health authorities from major powers, including China and the United States, exchanged technology and information about the spread of the swine flu virus and accelerated the development of a vaccine—a collaboration that helped combat that virus and a later one, the H7N9 avian influenza, which easily could have become a pandemic in 2013 but did not. Then in 2014, major powers responded to calls from the United Nations and the WHO to send health aid to West Africa to help fight the Ebola virus. China and the United States in particular forged a close partnership—working together to construct treatment centers and direct medical supplies—that played an important role in turning the tide against Ebola.
Vaccine Nationalism will Delay Winning the Fight vs COVID-19
A year after the declaration of the pandemic, the development and approval of safe and effective vaccines is a stunning scientific achievement. At the same time WHO ACT Accelerator and the COVAX vaccines pillar have been laying the groundwork for the equitable distribution and deployment of vaccines. Referring to the gap and inequity in access to vaccines, WHO Director General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, identified the vaccine access gap. He is clear that the recent emergence of rapidly-spreading variants makes the rapid and equitable rollout of vaccines all the more important. He pointed out that more than 39 million doses of vaccine have now been administered in at least 49 higher-income countries. “Just 25 doses have been given in one lowest-income country. Not 25 million; not 25 thousand; just 25." He said, " I need to be blunt: the world is on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure – and the price of this failure will be paid with lives and livelihoods in the world’s poorest countries".
Conclusions COVID -19 and the Moral Imagination
Writing in The Lancet, (January 22, 2021) Said Patel and Christine Phillips implore us to respond with purpose to the challenges outlined:
In their view it is within the purview of our moral imagination to turn this crisis into an opportunity of hope. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(21)00151-3/fulltext
"The COVID-19 pandemic offers an opportunity to break with the past and imagine the world anew. It also offers a “cosmopolitan moment”, when the existing order is destabilized to open up a new arena of moral and political responsibility. In this cosmopolitan moment, the global community could come together to create new institutions or mechanisms to address the structural causes of global inequity and promote the wellbeing of people and the planet.”
This year, the theme for International Women’s Day (8 March, 2021) is, “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.” It celebrates the tremendous efforts by women and girls around the world in shaping a more equal future. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has compounded challenges to gender equality. The UN Secretary-General’s recent report reveals that in several countries where women have been in leadership positions, the response to the pandemic has been particularly effective. For instance, Heads of Government in Denmark, Ethiopia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, New Zealand and Slovakia [and I add Barbados] have been widely recognized for the rapidity, decisiveness and effectiveness of their national response to COVID-19, as well as the compassionate communication of fact-based public health information. Yet the global recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, highlights the gender gaps that remain. The UN SG's Report recognizes that while women’s full and effective participation and leadership in all areas of life drive progress for everyone, they are still underrepresented in public life and decision-making. Women for example are Heads of State or Government in 22 countries, and only 24.9 per cent of the membership of national parliamentarians are women.
The Caribbean has an opportunity to make its collective voice resonate at the 65th Session of Commission on the Status of Women, March 15-26, 2021. The Session is aligned to the theme of the 2021 World Women’s Day with a focus on SDG #5, “Women's full and effective participation and decision-making in public life, as well as the elimination of violence, for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls”. It also relates to the flagship Generation Equality campaign, which calls for women’s right to decision-making in all areas of life, equal pay, equal sharing of unpaid care and domestic work, and ending all forms of violence against women and girls, and health-care services that respond to their needs.
Pioneers of Caribbean Women Leadership
In its Blog, celebrating World Women's Day 2020, GOFAD highlighted as essential reading the seminal study, The UWI Gender Journey: Recollections and Reflections coedited by three of the Caribbean's foremost scholar-advocates, Professors Jocelyn Massiah, Elsa Leo Rhynie and Barbara Bailey. https://www.globalonefrontier.org/blog/2020-world-womens-day-prompts-reflections-and-recollections-on-women-and-development-in-the-caribbean. The study emphasized the role of Caribbean pioneers under the banner, Woman and Development (WAND). They included Peggy Antrobus, Dame Neita Barrow, Lucille Mair, Kathleen Drayton, Nesta Patrick, Magna Pollard and the succeeding generation of Caribbean women leaders. Among them, Rhoda Reddock, Eudine Barriteau, Patricia Mohamed, Verene Sheppard, Lieth Dunn and Rosina Wiltshire. It is important to note the prominent roles of the pioneers and their successors in fashioning the landmark Beijing Platform for Action in 1995 and how they contributed to its consolidation 1996-2010. These women leaders initiated the roll out of undergraduate and graduate women studies programmes, accelerated capacity building in research, the establishment of a robust data base to sustain analysis and policy making, piloted the emergence of new programme areas such as gender and sexuality, construction of masculinities, the making of feminisms, and the blossoming of outreach activities within and beyond the academy. Such outreaches include national-level initiatives on gender policies, gender awareness and training women in leadership. Their active participation in the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination (CEDAW) and in the creation of Development Alternatives with Women in the New Era (DAWN] also coincided with increasing numbers of movements at country level advocating for women's rights and gender equality.
COVID-19 and its Challenges to Gender Equality
The challenges confronting women leaders are compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic. The IMF 2020 Report shows that in the COVID-19 era economic conditions are worsening, and women are hit hardest. With a predicted 3-4% increase in unemployment, the crisis could push an additional 25% more people into poverty.
Therese Turner Jones, IDB Caribbean Regional Representative in an article, "The hard facts about Gender Equality in the Caribbean" in Caribbean Development Trends (March 13, 2020), shows that in many countries of the Anglophone Caribbean, the life of a woman holds a singular paradox. Women have years of secondary school education and enroll in tertiary education institutes more than men. "Yet once outside the gilded doors of academia women are confronted by challenges such as lower pay, lack of parental support, insufficient protection from violence and harassment, and other obstacles to career progression". In addition, female students at UWI make up more than 65% of the 2016-2019 graduating classes, but Caribbean women make 60 to 70 cents for every dollar made by men. Only in Barbados, Belize and Guyana does government pay 100% of maternal leave. The lack of this essential benefit in most Caribbean countries is disadvantageous to women since it negatively effects their career path, decrease their income, and may lower their pensions upon retiring.
These inequities are further compounded by the digital transformation ushered in by the COVID-19 era that drives unequal outcomes in education, access to healthcare and financial services. Empirical studies by UNECLAC, the IMF and the World Bank all illustrate how the social and economic inequalities that affected women prior to COVID 19 are further amplified.
According to the World Bank Women, Business and the Law 2020 report, the Caribbean rankings on the gender equality index are variable. Guyana is the exception, with a score of 100, with a legal framework that establishes equal pay for women and men and no constraints on a woman’s decision to work where jobs are available. The report shows that the average labor force participation rate amongst women aged 15-64 is 73.5%. This compares favorably to the global average of 52.3%. However the workplace indicator based on levels of integration of women in the workplace and pay indicator in relation to men, result in a range of comparative rankings for Caribbean Countries as follows:
Meeting the Challenges with the March to Equal Participation
In a fascinating virtual discussion coordinated by the Caribbean Women in Leadership (CIWiL) and chaired by Dylis McDonald (March 1, 2021), the panelist reinforced the major reasons why women leadership matters and the rationale for the march to equal participation. Among their proposals include:
CIWiL has launched a project for a children's book aimed at celebrating the contribution of Caribbean women leaders to the development of the region. https://qrco.de/bbv7q8. Herein lies the opportunity for increasing awareness and building partnerships that will ensure the legacy of pioneer women leaders and their successors, expand beyond recognition given in the CARICOM Triannual Awards for Women (See the 12 recipients since the inauguration of the awards in 1990 https://caricom.org/awards__recognition/triennial-awards/ ). It will also help to escalate the endeavor toward building a bridge of hope for the sustainability of gender equity which includes partnerships with men and boys.
Conclusion: Opportunity to Build a Bridge of Hope for Women Leadership
The foundation exists for Caribbean Women in leadership to surge. Challenges for gender equality are well defined. Success rests on backward and forward linkages, ensuring that strong institutions and leadership potential exist to catalyze the surge.
For example, the Spouses of CARICOM Leaders Action Network (SCLAN), since its inauguration in 2016 was led by First Lady Simplis Barrow of Belize as Chair and First Lady Sandra Granger of Guyana as Vice-Chair. SCLAN commands international platforms, collaborates with the Organization of African First Ladies for Development (OAFLAD) and attracts resources for programmes to reduce gender equality, violence against women and girls, and improve the health of women and girls including access to sexual and reproductive health and rights. In a recent handover of leadership, First Lady Patricia Minnis of The Bahamas has assumed the Chair of SCLAN supported by First Lady Sharon Rowley of Trinidad and Tobago, and First Lady Eloise Gonsalves, St Vincent and the Grenadines. SCLAN's advocacy especially in these COVID times, will be vital in asserting the role of the Caribbean in global arenas such as the UN General Assembly and the upcoming Commission on the Status of Women.
But for advocacy to be most effective, it needs to be anchored in a series of prerequisites that apply to SCLAN and other organizations that promote Women Leadership matters. These include:
These are the pillars on which the Caribbean can revive the vibrancy of wome1n and development toward a robust gender agenda, the drive toward women in leadership and achieving gender equality. In the words of First Lady Sharon Rowley, "this is the time to Build that Bridge of Hope".
Guyana’s tenure as Chair of the Group of 77 (G-77), the largest intergovernmental organization of developing countries in the United Nations system ended in mid-January 2021. When it assumed the chair in January 2020, over a week after St Vincent and the Grenadines became the smallest country ever to be appointed to the UN Security Council, the GOFAD blog (January 9, 2020) heralded ‘Caribbean Leadership at the UN as grasping opportunities to enhance the region’s profile and influence’. Apart from some official statements and reports in the media very little is known to truly assess Guyana’s performance and impact. A report will no doubt be disseminated nationally and regionally. It will hopefully be the basis of national and regional discussions that would provide useful observations and lessons learned. Herein lies an opportunity for fostering civic engagement and fulfilling one of the goals of functional cooperation by contributing to foreign policy coordination in the CARICOM Community.
Some Areas of Interest
At the start of the new Decade of 2020, the international arena is consumed by mandates to achieve the comprehensive targets of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Within this framework for action, the most prominent for both the Security Council and the G-77 are peace and security, climate change, equality and inclusiveness and financing for development. Within the G-77, Guyana as Chair would have had greater leverage than St Vincent and the Grenadines as a non-permanent member of the Security Council. This has more to do with the structure of the G-77 and the more flexible scope of its programmes than with the competence of the diplomats involved. On 13 March 2020, UN Headquarters entered into a complete lockdown due to the rapid spread of the Novel Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in New York City and around the world.
COVID-19 : A Constraint or Opportunity
Like most organizations, COVID19 accelerated the UN's adaptation of telecommunication and online platforms. The issues of concern are: How much did the change in method of work effect of the UN and G-77; the nature of consultations among G-77 members; the Chairpersons in the G-77 Chapters; and the channels of communication among the Guyana Coordinating Team in New York, other locations and the capital, Georgetown?. How did the Group stay engaged and active with its main mandates through the changing working methods? The Group reaffirmed that the imposition of unilateral coercive economic measures against developing countries are impediments to economic and social development and to dialogue and understanding among countries. But was there a call for more resources to be mobilized in a timely manner to accelerate implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development? .
There are reports of two meetings of the Chairpersons of the G-77 Chapters, held virtually on 15 September and 11 December 2020, with a keynote address by H.E. Mr. Hugh Todd, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Guyana, at the opening of the first meeting. He stressed the need for deepening South-South cooperation and coordination within the Group, especially due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and noted that the long-term impacts of the pandemic were yet to be fully assessed. But there has been no elaboration on the divisions in opinions that prevailed within the G-77, nor updates on the outcomes of the Chapters' engagements for 2020, except echoes of the need to harmonize their work. What therefore was done to keep the channels of communication open between the Chapters, exchange of substantive ideas, share documents and disseminate relevant statements and agreements that needed to be highlighted? There are many more questions.
Biodiversity and Climate Change
It is widely recognized that climate change and biodiversity are interrelated. The United Nations and Britain co-hosted a Global Climate Ambitious Summit, virtually, on December 12, 2020 to mark the fifth anniversary of the landmark Paris Agreement. It was viewed as a preparation for the UN Climate Change Conference (COP-26) in Glasgow, Scotland in November-December 2021. The stage was set for Guyana to play a prominent role in the run up to the Climate Ambitious Summit. In September, 2020, H.E. Dr. Mohammed Irfaan Ali, President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, delivered two statements on behalf of the Group of 77 and China at the Biodiversity Summit and the Climate Change Forum in Commemoration of the 75th Observance of the United Nations. President Ali sent a strong and positive signal on G-77’s commitment to multilateralism and its resolve to strive for peace, justice and development. He also advocated the importance of strengthening solidarity to address the development challenges. It would however be important to learn what were the strategies developed within the G-77 process to deal with the seven (7) interrelated thematic programmes established by the Conference of the Parties (COP), all of which are at the centre the Caribbean’s priorities. They include agriculture, dry and sub human lands, forestry, inland waters, marine, costal and mountain diversities. That the University of Guyana has established a graduate programme in Biodiversity will peek the interests of that community in particular, for possible partnerships with institutions in the G-77 countries. Biodiversity and Climate action are also high on the agenda of the CARICOM Community and is also of interest to businesses, local authorities and NGOs. Taken in context it is part of the quest to strengthen South-South Cooperation. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is closely allied to Guyana's promotion of the priorities of the Alliance of Small Island States. To what extent was this high on the agenda of G-77?
Intersection of G-77 and UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)
ECOSOC is at the heart of the UN system to advance three dimensions of sustainable development -- economic, social and environmental. The intersection of G-77 and ECOSOC must focus on how, following the setback imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, developing countries can get back on track with the achievement of the 2030 Agenda. What was the nature of discussions on enhancing productive capacity, diversifying the productive base?
Conclusion: Toward Social, Distributive and Reparatory Justice
Barbados Prime Minister, Hon. Mia Mottley at the Virtual Pivot Event coordinated by the IDB, October 16, 2020 aptly frames the aspirational goal for Guyana’s role at the G-77, as “time to pivot the Caribbean as a global leader.” For grasping the opportunity to "pivot the Caribbean", we complement the Government of Guyana, the Guyana Permanent Representatives to the UN, H.E. Rudolph Tempow and his successor H.E Carolyn Rodriques-Birkett, and leader of the Guyana G-77 Coordinating Team, Ambassador Neil Pierre. We look forward to engagements in which the Coordinating Team will share the lessons learned from its experience in chairing the G-77 in these challenging times. Success is defined by how effective was the attempt to create a level playing field through the rules-based multilateral UN system, and promote the full participation by all peoples in the benefits of sustainable development. In this regard, the Coordinating Team stimulated global consciousness by leading G-77 to unanimously support the draft resolution on the World Summit for Social Development and the substantive amendments to Elimination of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and related Intolerance, a follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. These are fundamental pillars to social, distributive and reparatory justice.
The United Nations' (UN) World Day of Social Justice is annually observed on February 20. It encourages efforts to tackle issues such as poverty eradication, exclusion, gender equality, unemployment, human rights and social protection. This year the theme is A Call for Social Justice in the Digital Economy. The blurb put out by the UN states that the proliferation of digital platforms in the past decade, has penetrated several sectors of the economy and societies, transforming the world of work. This is especially the case with the expansion in broadband connectivity and cloud computing.
Since early 2020, the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic have led to remote working arrangements. That many business activities could retain their operations was reinforced by the growth and impact of the digital economy. At the same time, this development has exacerbated the growing digital divide within, between and across developed and developing countries. Existing inequalities have deepened particularly in terms of the availability, affordability and use of information ICTs and access to the internet. The move to online learning has accelerated education inequality in an unprecedented fashion, especially where before the pandemic it was already high.
What therefore has surfaced from these circumstances, is that the digital divide affects distributive justice in the form of inequalities in access to knowledge, the distribution of income, assets, opportunities for work and enumerated employment, and for civic and political participation. These values, as well as being essential to social justice, are at the heart of human rights.
The International Labor Organization Report (2019) provides glaring examples of global inequities in decent living and poverty that preceded the COVID-19 pandemic. Global unemployment was estimated at 172 million and 25% of the world’s population in low income countries lived in poverty. More recent indications are that the situation has deteriorated further since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, with higher levels of underutilization of labour, quality of work, gender inequality and unemployment .
The core issues raised here are embraced in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #10 aimed at promoting greater equality. This goal implies that there is no explicit distinction between international justice or justice among nations, and social justice or justice among people. In other words, justice with respect to international law is linked to the sovereign equality of all Members and to the maintenance of peace and security. In this context, digital inequality is a part of the wider social justice agenda.
Social Justice and the COVID-19 Vaccine Inequalities
The unequal access to the vaccine described as “vaccine apartheid” (referred to the GOFAD Blog 05-02-2021) not only relates to the disparities in global distribution between developed and developing countries, but also to disparities among varying demographics within countries. When combined with the inequalities conditioned by the digital divide, it fully dramatizes the link between social justice and human rights.
In the USA for example, across the 34 states reporting data on vaccinations by race/ethnicity in the CDC Dash Board (February 18, 2021) there is a largely consistent pattern of Black and Hispanic people receiving smaller shares of vaccinations compared to their shares of cases and deaths and their shares of the total population.
<img src="https://www.kff.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/featuredfeb16-newstate-vaccine-race-ethnicity-1.png" alt="" data-id="0" />
A Report on “Financing rights and social justice for persons with disabilities in the era of COVID-19 and beyond” has recently been produced by The Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities (February, 2021). It illustrates how persons with disabilities that comprise 15% of the global population have been hit particularly hard by the global pandemic. Yet proposals for financing the response rarely include this demographic. The Report provides very useful considerations for ensuring that “international economic policies that tackle the crisis always contribute to the enjoyment of human rights and social justice by persons with disabilities in their diversity, especially those in the Global South” You may read the Report here.
Social Justice and Public Health
Public health promotes and protects the health of people and the communities where they live, learn, work, and play. Hence beyond biological factors public health professionals are increasingly pivoting toward recognizing that Social justice is central to public health. This is because research has shown that health disparities are created by social inequities. These 'social determinants of health’ include insurance status, access to health care, reliable access to food, safe housing, transportation, education, safety, and equal protection before the law. There is no better illustration in recent times than the public health response to HIV/AIDS.
Conclusion: Viewing Social Justice with a wider Lenses
It is fitting that we identify the contribution of John Rawls to this UN celebration that focuses on Social Justice. An American scholar and military veteran, he gained his PhD from Princeton University and emerged as one of foremost moral and political philosophers. He was awarded the US National Humanitarian Medal for his ‘contribution to the academic and political space’ by President bill Clinton in 1999. Rawls developed the Theory of Justice based on a social contract rather than the principles of 'the greatest good for the greatest number' propounded by the English utilitarian philosophers Jeromy Bentham and John Stuart Mill. He saw their views as rooted in a "state of nature" that could lead to tyranny. He argued instead that Justice holds that "every individual has an equal right to basic liberties and that they should have the right to opportunities and an equal chance as individuals of similar ability. His notion of social justice is based on two principles:
John Rawls 'two principles' of Justice reminds me of Isaiah Berlin, the British/Lavatian philosopher whose brilliant lecture Two Concepts of Liberty, revolved around 'negative' and 'positive' freedom. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/liberty-positive-negative/. Like Isaiah Berlin, John Rawls provides fitting moral codes for guiding policies and practices of social justice in this COVID era and beyond.
Edward and Auriol Greene Directors, GOFAD.