The Role of Behavioral Scientists in a Changing World: Nudge The Final VersionRead Now
This week GOFAD further highlights some of the main issues in the book, Nudge The Final Version referred to in last week's Blog. Then, we explored the characteristics of people who insist on their rights not to be vaccinated and provided some conclusions, among others that:
It was therefore quite heartening to listen to an exhortation (below) from The Honourable Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados, which by coincidence or design fully reflects the views in Nudge The Final Version. Co-authored by Richard Thaler one of the most important behavioral economists in the world and 2017 Nobel Prize Laureate and Cass Sunstein, it is a follow up to Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness written in 2008 that has sold millions of copies worldwide and influenced governments and businesses alike. It has given rise to more than 200 “nudge units” in governments around the world and expanding groups of behavioral scientists in every part of the economy. It has advanced the idea “choice architecture” to help us make better decisions for ourselves, our families and our societies.
More specifically, the first four chapters of the book have changed little between the two versions. They set out the basic framework of an approach, referred to as “libertarian paternalism” by which consumers and citizens can be “nudged” to make decisions of their own that guide them and society toward a more perfect union.
In this final version there are many new themes, and some surprises. The authors advance the thesis that one way to nudge people to do something is to make it easy to do. The opposite is sludge when institutions try to prevent people from doing something by making it hard to do. They advocate that every organization should create a seek‑and‑destroy mission for unnecessary sludge.
This Final version is chock-full of new ideas. Two important topics are given new chapters. The first what they call Smart Disclosure. The idea is that governments should consider the radical thought of moving at least into the 21st century in the way they disclose important information. In their view, the Internet is not exactly a cutting‑edge technology. Widespread use of Smart Disclosure makes it possible to create online decision‑making tools called "choice engines", which can make many tasks as easy: for example, finding the best route to get to a new restaurant.
The second is their effective argument against “required choice”, preferring instead for vendors and governments to provide transparent information, such as labeling products that contain shellfish or peanuts so that those allergic to them can avoid buying them. Still, they allow that there are instances in which required choice is the best solution. One should be able to choose whether to buy one kind of canned soup over another but perhaps not to dictate the ingredients of every restaurant meal. Thaler and Sunstein deliver a spirited argument to enable well-informed people to overcome various biases and “probabilistic harms” to do what is best for them and, in the present case, their fellow “Humans.”
The authors devoted a chapter responding to objections to nudges. However, Instead of pursuing each criticism they used them collectively as an opportunity “to offer a book that will feel fresher, be more fun, and less dusty to those reading it for the first time, or even to those returning for another look, at the application of nudges". To say the least, among the major happenings in the intervening years, COVID and Climate change are among the most destabilizing to human development. But Nudge continues to attract interest, and the empirical evidence indicates that there is little value in tinker with it , even though status quo bias remains a strong force.
The book offers fresh looks devoted to helping consumers make better choices with their money; prod more in-depth discussion of issues like climate change, education and health that provoke behaviorally informed policy changes in an assortment of domains not previously explored.
In a recent interview, Thaler found it necessary to stress that no attempt was made to bring readers up to date on the remarkable nudge‑related activities, reforms, and research that have come about in recent years. Governments all over the world have been nudging, often for good, and the private sector has also been exceptionally inventive. Academic research has grown by leaps and bounds. “To explore these developments would take an entirely new book, and in fact many such books have been written, some even by Sunstein. Indeed, Sunstein has co-edited a four‑volume collection of papers on this topic”
This Blog has barely tapped the fringes of this fascinating work, whose essence I believe is even more relevant as our public health officials and political leaders confront the pervasiveness of COVID-19. Nudge The Final Version brings to the forefront the value of social and behavioral scientists. It touches on a wider issue to be further explored. It shows how studies in fields dedicated to social and behavioral phenomena, are in the unique position of helping policy makers to understand issues from a scientific perspective, while also navigating their inevitable impact on society. This dynamic brings up questions about the role of scientists in a changing world. To what extent should they engage in advocacy or activism on social and political issues? Should they be impartial investigators, active advocates, something in between?. It helps in understanding the ways in which science and advocacy are coming into contact in practice : more specifically, in this case, is of the balance between nudges and mandates. Indeed from the perspective of the small states of the Caribbean, Prime Minister Mottley's approach appears to be spot
Prime Minister Mottley's Conversation with Barbados - YouTube
As the world is confronted with the phenomenon of people who insist on their rights not to be vaccinated, several questions are being raised: Who are they? What are their reasons? Why their resistance to what the science is saying? How to achieve national and global solidarity?
This blog is being written when the Delta variant among others is leading to an upsurge in the incidence of the coronavirus, globally. According to the latest CDC projections, the US is poised to achieve the single worse week with 200,000 COVID cases per day, leading Dr. Saju Mathew, National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director, to pronounce that “the Unvaccinated are sitting ducks”. In the Caribbean, The Hon. Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Chair of the Caribbean Community, speaking at the Inauguration of the new CARICOM Secretary General, Dr. Carla Barnett of Belize, said that in many of CARICOM member states, the percentage of the population that has been vaccinated remains unacceptably low. The latest figures from the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) suggests 23 percent. In addition, inequitable access to vaccines has been further complicated by pervasive vaccine hesitancy.
GOFAD combed the literature for empirical research on vaccine hesitaters that would help in the response to the who, what, why and how raised above. The most enlightening analysis was a interview by Ed Yong, a staff science writer in an article America Is Getting Unvaccinated People All Wrong in The Atlantic July 22, 2021 with Dr. Rhea Boyd, a pediatrician and public-health advocate. https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2021/07/unvaccinated-different-anti-vax/619523/
The conclusion to be drawn is that ‘the unvaccinated’ are not a monolith: “they’re not all anti-vaxxers, and treating them as such is making things worse.” They are a diverse group with many reasons for avoiding vaccination. Some are concerned that COVID-19 vaccines aren’t safe or that potential side effects aren’t worth the risk of taking them. Others think the risk of getting COVID themselves is low; so, why bother?. Still others have a resistance to government intervention and see taking the vaccine as capitulation to government overreach and a bane to personal freedoms. Othersare skeptical of taking vaccines that have not been officially certified by WHO. A small number are simply opposed to all vaccines. What is more, public opinion about vaccination include varied and deep-seated beliefs. These are a result of the tension between divergent cultural viewpoints and value systems. Several key cultural perspectives stem from individual rights and public health stances toward vaccination, various religious standpoints and vaccine objections, and suspicion and mistrust of vaccines among different global cultures and communities.
Protecting Individual Liberties vs Safeguarding Public Health
Two studies advance the need to understand the difference between the individual and public health stances. Helen Riess argues for building empathy in health care, requiring public health officials to recognize and respect diverse social and cultural perspectives toward immunization policies, and help support their success and acceptance.
https:greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/building_empathy_in_healthcare. Many countries for example require citizens to receive certain immunizations such as those required for children to enter school. Historically there have been controversies over the efficacy, safety and morality of these mandatory vaccinations stemming from these two divergent goals.
Another perspective is presented in Hendi Larson’s recent book, Stuck: Why Vaccine Rumors Start and Why They Won’t Go Away. She advises that a more understanding view around vaccine hesitancy is to approach people with respect and dignity, even if you disagree with them. Her main conclusion is to build empathy in health care requiring good public health policies to balance both individual rights and community needs. These are best illustrated by religious objections to vaccines and suspicions and mistrust of vaccines and even political leaders who advocate for their use. Religious objections are based generally on the ethical dilemmas associated with using human tissue cells to create vaccines, and beliefs that the body is sacred, should not receive certain chemicals or blood or tissues from animals. They believe it should be healed by God , prayer or natural means. However in most recent statement Pope Paul captures a different spirit when he states that “vaccination is a simple but profound way of promoting the common good and caring for each other. It is an act of love“ https://www.today.com/health/pope-francis-urges-people-get-vaccinated-calling-it-act-love-t228635
At the same time, suspicion and apprehension about vaccination are best understood in a social and historical context of inequality and mistrust. For example, the legacy of racism in medicine and the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, a clinical trial conducted with African Americans who were denied appropriate treatment opportunities, are key factors underlying African Americans’ distrust of medical and public health interventions, including vaccination. https://www.cdc.gov/tuskegee/index.html
How to get the Vaccine Hesitant to change their Minds : Nudge not Sludge
The question, how to resolve this public health dilemma is not straightforward. In a fascinatingly engaging book by Professor Richard Thaler (University of Chicago), 2017 Nobel prize in Economics and Professor Cass Sunstein (Harvard University) entitled Nudge: Improving Decisions About Heath, Wealth, and Happiness (reviewed by GOAD May 25, 2019) they make the essential point that most human beings do not make decisions in the way that is often characterized in elementary economic text books. In a follow up publication, Nudge - Final Version release August 3, 2021 they provide some interesting recommendations for policy makers intent on combating the coronavirus to “nudge for good” with well-designed warnings using the power of social norms. This approach they argue will blunt the “sludge” (barriers, fake news etc.) by “choice architects” that sponsor the cause of antivaxxers out of self-interest or even malicious intent. Reject mask mandates and social distancing despite scientific evidence of their absolute necessity are the most obvious examples. https://bookshop.org/books/nudge-the-final-edition/9780143137009
When anti-vaxxers sow distrust about vaccines they successfully sow distrust about unvaccinated people as a whole. This is the reason why it is necessary to ensure that credible and consistent scientific information reaches everyone since what is becoming more evident is that the information gap is driving the vaccination gap. The language of policy makers that blames the unvaccinated is sludge because it misses the critical point that structural barriers maybe a major reason. So for example, Black people in the USA are one of the least vaccinated groups, in part because they have the least access to preventive health-care services. On a global scale the comparison is "vaccine apartheid" between the developed and the developing countries.
Yet those who are unvaccinated should not be made a protected class nor should governments be nudged into giving their personal choice the same anti-discrimination status as race, gender and religion. Instead the emphasis should be to nudgerather than mandate people toward an intervention that maintains freedom of choice and steers them in a particular direction.
There is so much more to Nudge Final Version to be explored further (in another blog). However the lessons learned are that nudges targeting vaccine hesitation should aim to:
In the final analysis for nudges to achieve their objectives they must be compatible with human dignity. They should make people feel safer, better and agree that they have individual rights but also obligations to their communities, nations, and regions to bring an end to the pandemic. There will however always be those "beyond nudging". Imposing sanctions may yet be the only alternative. Above all nudges must be aimed to achieve global solidarity in recognizing that this worldwide pandemic will further disrupt the lives of the most vulnerable, and countries will see a rise in extreme poverty and malnutrition, shattering all hope of attaining the Sustainable Development Goals.
Navigating the Opportunities and Imperatives in Guyana’s Oil and Gas Economic Part 2: Report on Queens College Alumni Association Symposium, by Dr. Terrence R. BlackmanRead Now
We express gratitude to Dr Terrence Blackman, Guyana’s Queens College Alumni Association of New York Chapter (QCAANY) and Oil Now(August 1, 2021) for allowing GOFAD to reproduce this report as this weeks blog. It is a follow up to Part 1 the carried by GOFAD on July 22, 2021
In a recent news report, CGX Energy Inc announced that the drilling of the Kawa-1 well, the first well at the Corentyne Block offshore Guyana, is set to commence before August 15. This undertaking is reported to cost close to USD 85 million. The Corentyne Block is 200 km offshore Georgetown, and these operations will take place at water depths of 355 meters (1,174 ft). The expected total drill depth of the Kawa-1 well is 6,575 meters (21,700 ft)!
For perspective, the Kaieteur Falls is a massive waterfall that is roughly four times higher than Niagara Falls in Canada and twice as high as Victoria Falls in southern Africa. The Kaieteur Falls is considered the largest single drop waterfall in the world—”single drop” means that the water does not flow over multiple tiers as it falls; in other words, there’s one massive drop from the top waterfall to the bottom. The Kaieteur Falls is 741 feet tall. Guyana’s Oil and Gas explorations take place at depths of 30 Kaieteur Falls beneath the sea! Given this reality, it is instructive to note that ExxonMobil, operator of the Stabroek, Canje, and Kaieteur blocks, is the only company thus far who has commenced production offshore Guyana. ExxonMobil has made twenty discoveries since May 2015 and began production in December 2019 at the Liza project.
This, welcome news, once again highlighted the key theme, Guyana’s Oil and Gas opportunity is a high-risk, high-capital, and technologically-intensive endeavor, that emerged at the recently concluded Queen’s College of Guyana Alumni Association, NY Chapter (QCAANY) symposium on Navigating the Opportunities and Imperatives in Guyana’s Oil and Gas Economic.
The first panel focused on the opportunities emerging in the Oil and Gas sector. The panelists were Dr. Dennis Pieters and Mr. Fareed Amin, and the moderator was Mr. Aftab Karimullah. The second panel, focused on the Imperatives, consisted of Mr. Edwin Callender and Ms. Abbigale Loncke. Ms. Rosalind McClymont moderated the discussion.
In Part I of my Report from the Symposium, I discussed the contributions of Dr. Dennis Pieters, an international Reservoir Engineering consultant, professor, and author who currently serves as a Director of Mid-Atlantic Oil and Gas Inc., in Georgetown, Guyana.
In this, Part II of my Report from the Symposium, we reflect on the presentation by Edwin M. Callender, Attorney & Energy consultant of the Callender Law Firm in Houston, Texas. He presented on the efficient and sustainable exploitation of Guyana’s Oil & Gas resources for the maximum benefit of the Guyanese People.
Attorney Callender is a graduate of the Thurgood Marshall School of Law, Texas Southern University, and holds graduate degrees in Chemical Engineering, Business Administration, and Finance from the University of Houston. He is an alumnus of the Bishop’s High School, Guyana and the principal consultant at EMC Energy Consulting LLC, an international energy economics, research, management, and process operations consulting firm. He is a member of the Association of International Petroleum Negotiators (AIPN) and serves on the Board of Directors of the Houston Lawyers Association.
Mr. Callender began by reviewing the fundamentals of the Oil and Gas value chain for the audience. The value chain starts with opportunities associated with discovering oil fields and ends with provisioning of products to end consumers. I.e., opportunities related to the different stages of the Oil and Gas production process: exploration, production, storage and shipping, refining, and marketing. Attorney Callender argued that the essential role of the Guyanese socio-economic and political leadership was to create an environment conducive to the optimal exploitation of Guyana’s Oil & Gas resources for the maximum benefit of the Guyanese People. In short, Callender observed, the challenge for Guyana’s political leadership is to identify, define, locate, and facilitate opportunities for all Guyanese arising from oil & gas development.
To achieve this aim, he directs us to look specifically at the steps in the value chain and target our efforts at creating opportunities for Guyanese in each sphere of the endeavor. For example, he asks us to consider, say oil field services, and observe the numerous jobs in oilfield services ranging from Field Service and Maintenance Technicians. Guyana’s goal, he argues, is to develop targeted strategies and infrastructure for engaging Guyanese in the various oil field services jobs. The key for Callender is the crafting of concrete pathways to specific employment opportunities in these sectors for Guyanese while building skills that are viable beyond the Oil and Gas sector.
A second application of the Callender doctrine: As the plans emerge for the Wales Gas to Shore project, Attorney Callender would argue that Guyana develop a specific focus on jobs and educational training for Guyanese in oil and gas storage and transportation. Specifically, training in Urban Gas Transportation and Distribution, Design and Management of Oil Transportation Pipelines, Oil and Gas Storage and Handling Systems, Oil and Gas Gathering and Transferring, and the Design and Operation of Gas Pipelines as a means to engaging Guyanese in a meaningful and impactful manner in this area of endeavor.
Attorney Callender also addressed the issue of Local Content. He asserted that an effective Local Content Strategy (LCS) was critical to Guyana’s opportunity in Oil & Gas being a transformative one for Guyana and Guyanese. He posited that Guyana’s LCS ought to be crafted, implemented, and managed as an integral component of the nation’s development strategy. He argued, like Dr. Pieters, that the LCS should focus on the employment of locals and on building local capacity and skills development through education and training.
Mr. Callender also spoke to the crucial importance of developing Guyanese industrial competence and capability. In this vein, he argued for a Government driven policy to catalyze Guyanese industrial participation in the Oil and Gas economy. Attorney Callender noted in this regard the need for a national policy for Small and mid-size business enterprises (SMBEs), i.e., businesses with revenues, assets, and number of employees below certain thresholds. Alluding to SMBEs important role in the economy, employing vast numbers of people and helping to shape innovation, Callender pointed to the need for Guyana to clearly define what constitutes a small and medium-sized enterprise and to develop enabling incentive infrastructure, including favorable tax treatment and access to loans as appropriate, to stabilize and amplify this sector of the Guyanese business community. I add here a personal reflection that there is an opportunity for such a policy to diversify the economic landscape of Guyana and I note there are serious concerns that the government’s local content policy favors larger established businesses by requiring adherence to strict near term targets and government certification.
Attorney Callender also spoke of the need to update and make our environmental, health, and safety protection laws and regulations more robust. He noted that engagement and utilization of the diaspora could affect the repatriation of skills, capacity, and resources and he also noted the vital importance of protecting and preserving the health and safety of Guyanese and residents of the Caribbean region by ensuring a regulatory regime that enables practices that protect the environment, land, water, air, plants, and animals from degradation, destruction, waste, and contamination
A high point of the presentation and one which elicited great interest among the audience, many of whom were naturalized citizens, was Attorney Callender’s discussion on the laws governing U.S. citizens investing or operating companies in Guyana, specifically, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). The FPCA, he noted for the audience, had two salient provisions: (i) an anti-bribery provision and (ii) an accounting provision. These components, he explained, are jointly enforced by the Department of Justice (DOJ ) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
The anti-bribery law prohibits the offering to pay, paying, promising to pay, or authorizing the payment of money or anything of value to a foreign official to influence any act or decision of the foreign official in their official capacity or to secure any other improper advantage to obtain or retain business. Critical to this provision, he notes, was that there is no requirement of materiality. Thus, it is sufficient to establish the intent of the bribery rather than the amount to run afoul of this law. He further shared that broadly construed, under the “alternative jurisdiction” provision of the FCPA there is no requirement for the use of interstate commerce (e.g., texts, email, telephone call, wire) for acts in furtherance of a corrupt payment to a foreign official by U.S. companies and persons occurring wholly outside of the United States. He strongly cautioned the audience to be mindful of the FCPA when engaging in business activity in Guyana. He noted that civil and criminal penalties for the violation of the FCPA could include hefty fines, disgorgement of profits, and imprisonment. The accounting provision applies to public companies, and it requires adherence to the industry standards for the maintenance of (i) Books and Records and (ii) Internal Controls.
Attorney Callender closed his presentation by drawing the audience’s attention to Guyana’s membership in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (GYEITI). Member countries commit to disclose information along the extractive industry value chain, specifically, how extraction rights are awarded, how revenues make their way through the government and how they benefit the public. Through participation in the EITI, fifty-five (55) countries have agreed to a common set of rules governing what has to be disclosed and when. Guyana published, in April 2021, its second EITI Report, covering the fiscal year 2018. The report includes data on extractive activities such as mining, oil and gas, fisheries, and forestry. In 2018, according to the Bureau of Statistics, all extractive activities combined represented 17.7% of annual GDP, 74.2% of Guyana’s total exports, and 11.3% of government revenues. It will be very interesting to see how this distribution evolves over the next five to ten years as estimates for future annual revenues approach tens of billions of US dollars, several times the entire current GDP. GYEITI is expected to review the legislation that will determine the legal and institutional framework for public disclosure of information on the extractive industries. Attorney Callender urged civic-minded members of the audience to maintain constant vigilance on the workings of GYEITI.
We close by noting that during the Q&A session which followed the presentations and enquiries surfaced around Guyana’s Sovereign Wealth Fund and avoiding the Resource Curse. We will explore these two topics in our two upcoming essays.
About the Author
Dr. Terrence Richard Blackman is a member of the Guyanese diaspora. He is an associate professor of mathematics, and a founding member of the Undergraduate Program in Mathematics at Medgar Evers College. He is a former Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Visiting Professor at MIT and a Member of The School of Mathematics at The Institute for Advanced Study. He previously served as Chair of the Mathematics Department and Dean of the School of Science Health and Technology at Medgar Evers College, where he has worked for more than twenty-five years. He’s a graduate of Queen’s College, Guyana, Brooklyn College, CUNY, and the City University of New York Graduate School.
About QCAANY is the New York Chapter of the Queens College of Guyana alumni association. It is a registered non-profit corporation that has been incorporated for thirty (30) years. It furthers the academic, and extracurricular interests of Queen’s College, Guyana by way of scholarships to high-performing students and scholarships to financially challenged students. In addition, the group has conducted programs such as summer math camps and student conferences aimed at better preparing Queen’s College students for the world after graduation.
The symposium is a part of QCAANY’s effort to foster constructive civic engagement on matters of public interest throughout the Guyanese Diaspora. It aimed to educate the Guyanese Diaspora on the workings of the emerging Oil and Gas industry and to outline opportunities for private investment, workforce development and training, local content imperatives, and diaspora engagement.
Celebrating Emancipation Day provides an opportunity to take action on ReparationsRead Now
Emancipation day was celebrated on August 1 by many former European colonies in the Caribbean. Other countries commemorate the emancipation of slaves of African descent on various dates. Most notably, in the United States both Congress and Senate this year passed an emancipation proclamation, declaring a Juneteenth holiday (June 19th) henceforth, commemorating that date in 1865 when Gordon Granger, a Union general, arrived in Galveston, Texas, to inform enslaved African-Americans of their freedom and that the Civil War had ended. In recent years, and particularly following nationwide protests over police brutality and the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and other Black Americans, there is renewed interest in the day that celebrates freedom. Noteworthy also is that on August 1, 1985 Trinidad and Tobagobecame the first independent country in the world to declare a national holiday to commemorate the abolition of slavery. In addition across the Caribbean many who led slave rebellions are enshrined as national heroes of their respective countries. Among them are Prince Klass, Antigua and Barbuda; Bussa in Barbados; Cuffy in Guyana; François-Dominique Toussaint Louverture and Jean-Jacques Dessalines in Haiti; Sam Sharpe and Queen Nanny in Jamaica; Joseph Chatoyer in St Vincent and the Grenadines; and Kodjo in Suriname.
What continues to preoccupy the attention of GOFAD is the link between emancipation and reparations. In the 20th century, several countries most prominently post war Germany is credited with substantial payment for atrocities associated with the Holocaust. The US government too has paid reparations including U$1.6 billion to Japanese Americans interned during WWII and US$1.3 billion to Native American tribes for lands seized between 1946 and 1968. While the advocacy for reparations never died down especially among African-Americans, a cogent case has been put forward by Ta-Nehisi Coates. His landmark essay, “The Case for Reparations” shaped the current debate on redress not just for enslavement but for a century of systematic racial discrimination sanctioned by the state.
CLR James and Eric Williams Contribution to understanding the real History of Slavery
In an excellent lecture by James Heartfield, titled the Abolition of Slavery Debate Why C.L.R James and Eric Williams were right, he elaborated on the contributions of James and Williams to understanding the real history of slavery. They refuted the received wisdom that abolitionists like Wilberforce were liberationists. Instead James’ epic book Black Jacobins illustrates that the core story is that the Haitian people freed themselves - "they made their own freedom". And Eric Williams in his landmark book, Capitalism and Slavery projected the corollary to James. He revealed that the shocking origins of capitalists’ wealth of England was to be found in the slave trade. The thesis of both Williams and James parallels Karl Marx’s notion of 'primitive accumulation' in which the investment fund for England’s industrialization was built on theft and piracy of gold and people which no doubt inspired the work of the Walter Rodney, Guyanese historian, scholar and activist, How Europe Under developed Africa. However, it was Williams who first advanced the importance of the triangular trade which was initiated by British pirates like Hawkins and Rodney stealing people from Africa, selling them in the West Indies to work on the sugar plantation and selling sugar to the West for huge profits. He used empirical evidence to support the view that while abolition of slavery may have been accompanied by some moral and sympathetic feelings, it was mainly due to bankruptcy of the plantation system, resulting from the fact that the British planters had sucked it dry. It was no longer profitable. Therefore the great business plan justified abandoning the plantation taking the profits and investing them in the construction of England’s industrial development. See video of lecture by Heartfield on the GOFAD website https://youtu.be/wH_Yhz1jwtc under the Resource Page under photo and video gallery.
Taking Reparations beyond the Boundary: Sir Hilary Beckles' Advocacy
The CARICOM Reparations Commission has building blocks rooted in the historical moorings of CLR James, Eric Williams and Walter Rodney. It was mandated by CARICOM Heads of Governments to prepare the template for reparatory justice of the region’s Indigenous and African descendant communities. This mandate parallels the broad based demands of Coates with the emphasis on compensation for “victims of crimes against humanity in the forms of genocide , slave trading and apartheid". CARICOM’s ten- point plan for reparations is therefore the region’s Blueprint for action. https://caricom.org/caricom-ten-point-plan-for-reparatory-justice/
In a statement on Emancipation Day 2021 President Irfaan Ali, a new voice in the CARICOM movement pledged that Guyana will work towards international reparations for crime of African enslavement.
However it is Sir Hilary Beckles, Vice Chancellor of the University, chair of the CARICOM Reparations Commission who provides a most comprehensive rationale. His interview on the Hard Talk issued by the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) on August 2, 2021 is reproduced in the link below as much to highlight his takeaways as to invite comments and actions https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/w3ct1n61
There is need to confront the real justification for reparatory justice which requires taking heed of the unprecedented global project of European colonial expansion through the pillage, rape, and genocide of Native Peoples that shaped the nations and humanity that we have become today. While some Afro Descendants can be smug about their relative success against great historical odds, the contemporary challenges of structural racism, continue to cast a long shadow across class lines and individual achievement for most people of African descent. The struggle for reparatory justice requires more public messengers and what better time than now. The editorial in Guyana Stabroek News (August 3, 2021) fittingly helps us to connect the dots between emancipation and reparations, especially in multiracial societies that seek fusion into one nation: “when it comes to the past it should always be borne in mind that the history of one ethnic group is the history of us all”.
Edward and Auriol Greene Directors, GOFAD.