The Increasing Importance of International Development Cooperation to Resolve the Challenges of Climate Change in Small Island Developing States (SIDS)Read Now
This blog is being presented in World Earth Week. It is written by Garfield Barnwell a specialist in the area of Sustainable Development and former Director in the Directorate of Human and Social Development, Caribbean Community Secretariat. GOFAD will continue this series and will post relevant commentaries and references. See www.globalonefrontier.org in Resources under Media and Issues and Ideas, and in Programmes under Sustainable Development, Climate Change and the Green Economy. Your comments are also welcomed .
Every human being lives on Planet Earth and it is our responsibility to protect it for ourselves
and for future generations. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC) has
emphasized that human actions are the principal cause of global warming and its ill effects.
The IPCC’s recent 1.5C report highlights the need for greater climate action around the world,
given that the major challenge has shifted from the stabilization of global greenhouse gases to
the urgency in slowing down the acceleration in the growth of those gases.
In the twenty-first century, climate change and climate vulnerability, including the costs of adaptation and mitigation, pose major challenges to developing economies. In addition, the small open economies in the Caribbean will simultaneously need to address other outstanding issues, such as high levels of debt, sustained economic growth, job creation, capacity development and poverty reduction. These conditions are best addressed in the context of multilateral agreements and the implementation of effective structural reforms.
The Challenges Facing the Caribbean
Climate change presents unique challenges for SIDS. This is particularly so, due to their small geographical location, isolation and exposure. In 2013, the scientific evidence in the fifth assessment report of the IPCC, 2013 showed that over the last 20 years, the average temperature in Latin America and Caribbean has increased by about 0.1 degree Celsius per decade. In the sub-regional hot spot in the Caribbean the warming is about twice the global mean. In determining what actions can be taken by SIDS in the Caribbean to address the consequences of climate change, it is important to note that although the sub-region contributes less than 1% of global greenhouse gas emissions, it is likely to suffer disproportional impacts. As such, the focus for Caribbean development practitioners should be to continue to emphasize adaptation to climate change, with mitigation as a supporting mechanism in their work programs.
These strategies need to be mainstreamed into national development policies and plans if they are to support the national vision and action. However, just as important as national actions, SIDS need to build momentum at the regional and international levels to drive their responsibility and motivation on climate change. This must include advocating for the strengthening of existing concessionary windows for technical assistance and financial flows for SIDS sustainable development and climate change.
Later this year, the United Nations (UN) Secretary General will host two major meetings. Firstly, there is a climate change meeting to build momentum and drive for a greater level of ambition ahead of 2020 Climate Change Summit. Secondly, the upcoming SIDS Review Meeting at the UN Headquarters, September, 2019 will review the progress that has been made in addressing the priorities of SIDS. Caribbean SIDS need to call on the UN to strengthen its institutions and mechanisms to promote the implementation of the SAMOA pathway and the Paris Agreement. Without an effective SIDS platform, this group of countries could lose the various concessional lending facilities for development assistance offered by most donor agencies and partners including the existing recognition of SIDS in the UNFCCC processes.
The Caribbean SIDS should build their future on the action of the present and seize the opportunity to improve the quality of life of the Caribbean people by moving towards a more sustainable pattern of development. The UN meetings represent an invaluable opportunity for the international community to formulate an inclusive, fair and equitable strategy in which the exercise of the precautionary principle can prevent irreversible damage.
In the preparation of international agreements on climate change and sustainable development, there is need for recognition of the different levels of development and asymmetries between the countries and regions. Designing proposals and strategies to tackle climate change should not run counter to the pursuit of sustainable development but should advance the cause. Unilateral actions that curb existing flows of funding and access to additional financial resources will only exacerbate the problems and cause greater harm to developing countries, particularly SIDS.
Sir Alister died on April 20, 2019. We mourn his loss and extend our deepest sympathy to his wife Lady Marjorie Mc Intyre and children, Arnold, Andrew, Helga and Nicholas. I was privileged to pay tribute attention and the 2017 UWI Conference on the Economy that honored Sir Alister, which is reproduced below. It was entitled “Reflections on Sir Alister McIntyre- a unique brand and a colossus”. It may well have been: ‘expressing gratitude to Sir Alister for touching my life’
This is indeed an opportunity to pay tribute to a Caribbean icon who has made such a monumental contribution to regional and international developments. They encompass a creative vision and intellectual leadership that transformed academia, assisted in fashioning the regional integration movement and projected the role of the Caribbean within the construct of a new international economic order.
I knew of Alister McIntyre long before I met him. Those of us who studied in the University system and for that matter, anywhere in the UK in the 1960s, could not fail to be regaled with the outstanding academic feats of the brilliant Caribbean Student at the London School of Economic who graduated with First Class honours. Nor can those of us who followed the sad demise of the West Indies Federation in 1962, fail to recall the role of the formidable regional revival team of William Demas, Alister McIntyre and Shridath Ramphal which master minded CARIFTA and its transition to CARICOM.
For me whose seven (7) year stint of undergraduate and graduate studies was in the metropolis in the UK, Canada and the USA, the thirst for analysis on Caribbean economic development was largely quenched by several articles written by Alister McIntyre in the Journal for Social and Economic Studies and the New World Magazines. Most pertinent however for me, studying in Canada at the time, was his 1966 book with Kari Levitt on The Political Economy of Canadian-West Indian Relations.
When therefore in May 1968, the day after I completed my comprehensive examinations for the Ph.D at the University of British Columbia, l received a letter from the Registrar of UWI offering an appointment as a Junior Research Fellow at Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER) St Augustine, I was ecstatic. It didn’t matter that the salary offered was less than my Canada Council Graduate Fellowship, I was returning to the region — and guess what— to work with Allister McIntyre who was by then Director of the ISER.
This had to be among the best professional decisions anyone could make. As it turned out, I was the beneficiary of Alister’s creative leadership and mentorship that supported, challenged, encouraged and trusted my ability and that of my colleagues. Among those who joined the McIntyre clan at the same time, was Edwin Carrington, who was to become the Secretary General of the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Secretariat in Brussels and subsequently, CARICOM Secretary General for 18 years. In the latter position Sir Edwin walked in the footsteps of our mentor, “Mack”, and I served as his Assistant Secretary General (2000-2010).
In the intervening years, it was my good fortune — not once, but twice — to actually witness at close range, Alister in full flight: first, as his Deputy Director for ISER 1972-1974 on the Mona Campus, before he left academia to succeed his good friend Willie Demas as Secretary General of CARICOM, and second, in 1989-1993 as Pro Vice Chancellor after he assumed the Vice Chancellorship of UWI in 1988.
In the first period, we his Deputy Directors, which included Vaughan Lewis in Barbados and Jack Harewood in St Augustine, viewed with awe, the enormity of his portfolio of activities that required intellectual leadership and profound diplomatic instincts. In addition to his responsibility for guiding the research, publication, outreach and resource mobilization of ISER, he was Special Adviser to UNECLAC, the CARICOM Trade Delegation to Europe, and to several Prime Ministers and Governments on technical economic matters, simultaneously. He was also UWI’s representative on the Board of the Association of Caribbean Universities and Research Institutes (UNICA), among many others.
In this context, he accurately reports in his recent book The Caribbean and the Wider World his difference with the prevailing view that ISER should give priority to the intellectual/academic rather than policies issues. I vividly recall his advocacy that if ISER were to maintain its relevance, its research must focus on addressing the problems of the communities to which it related and from which it drew basic support. This did not mean taking political sides. His views became guiding principles for the programme of work of ISER under Vaughan Lewis who succeeded him as Director in 1975 and me, who succeeded Vaughan in 1982.
During the second period, Alister’s leadership of UWI from 1988 will no doubt go down in history as the modernization of the University system. I was intricately involved in the first five years of his tenure as Vice Chancellor: co-opted to Mona’s rehabilitation committee in 1988 and then appointed Pro Vice Chancellor, Development and Alumni Relations 1989-93. His was the arduous task of leading the charge of rebuilding the Mona Campus after its devastation by the category 5 - Hurricane Gilbert on September 12, 1988, just 12 days after he arrived in Jamaica to take up the appointment as Vice Chancellor. It was a test to his fortitude and resolve that the campus was reopened on November 1, within the statutory regulations allowed for an academic year. The new Vice Chancellor marshaled his troops, and mobilized support, nationally, regionally and internationally to make this happen. Much of this success for the hurricane relief and rebuilding efforts was due to the rigour and persuasiveness of his presentations to insurance companies, the national and regional private sector and external donors and to the high esteem in which he was held.
Having stabilized the relief efforts, the Vice Chancellor initiated a 10 year development plan (1990-2000) with a series of priorities among which, to increase the university enrollment by 50% to 18,000 students, off campus enrollments to benefit the non Campus countries and research and development in Science and Technology. My Office of Development and Alumni Relations within the Vice Chancellory managed several projects including a grant from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) for Institutional Strengthening, and worked together with Prof. Compton Bourne, Pro Vice Chancellor, Planning and Development in designing and securing a substantial US$40M loan from the Inter American Development Bank under the leadership of the Vice Chancellor. These resource mobilization efforts of the Vice Chancellor triggered the enhancement of Faculties and student facilities on all three campuses and strengthened governance arrangements of the university system.
I was also particularly pleased that as the first Pro Vice Chancellor with responsibility for Alumni Relations in collaboration with the UWI Guild of Graduates whose President was Beverly Perreira, to have presided over initiating a plan for revamping the Alumni System, promoted by Vice Chancellor McIntyre as an integral component of the viability of the University. The “Gathering of Graduates” in April 1993 which brought together approximately 800 alumni (and approximately 1000 participants) headlined by Nobel Laureate, Dereck Walcott, remains etched in my memory as a tribute to Alister McIntyre and to its gracious patron, former Vice Chancellor, Sir Phillip Sherlock.
When Alister McIntyre retired as Vice Chancellor in 1998, he left the UWI on a trajectory of institutional viability and transformation as well as international credibility beyond all expectations. He would be the first to let you know that this was achieved because of robust teams he built along the way, the role of the Chancellor, Sir Shridath Ramphal and the succession planning that left many of those he mentored to continue the process.
But, I, and most of us, who were part of his administration, could reflect on the positive responses to these efforts to which I have referred. They were indeed largely due to the international reputation and wide ranging contacts of Alister McIntyre. He seemed to know all the influential players in the global arena. And this was no doubt as a result of the expansive reach of his distinguished academic career and profound reputation and contributions to the “Caribbean and the Wider World “
Throughout his journey, the role of his wife, Marjorie who stood beside him, has been inestimable. We commend her highly for her generosity of spirit in sharing her remarkable husband with so many of us for such an extended period. Enjoining her to this Tribute can only minimally compensate for our inadequate appreciation.
I struggled for a summary statement for this tribute and could find no more appropriate description of Alister McIntyre than the type of leader exalted in the writings of Charles Erwin Wilson: “a boss who makes others realize they have more ability than they think they have so they can consistently do better than they thought they could”.
For all these reasons and more, Sir Alister Mcintyre (Mack to most of us) is truly a unique Brand and a Colossus, which I am sure, will be immortalized and whose memory will remain undiminished.
Edward Greene, Professor Emeritus
The International Monetary Fund (IMF)-World Bank Spring meetings held in Washington DC during the week of April 9, 2019 provided a mine field of issues and ideas in a multitude of sessions on the future of sustainable development. The leadership of the World Bank and IMF engaged with policy makers, practitioners, scholars, entrepreneurs, innovators , and citizens from across the world in open sessions in areas such as financial access, rethinking crisis response, climate action, and austerity and the right to health and education. The Caribbean had a small but vibrant presence led by Barbados' Prime Minister, Mia Motley and several of the Region's Ministers of Finance, representatives of CDB, CARICOM Secretariat, OECS and Caribbean Ambassadors, among others. Among the most significant features were the emphasis placed on the World Bank’s Human Capital Project including the establishment of a human capital index and the prominence given to the Civil Society Policy Forum. Representation from the Caribbean at the Forum was absent or invisible.
In the coming weeks, Global Frontier will examine some of the main aspects of the Human Development Project. However, this week we brings into focus, the Civil Society Policy Forum in an effort to stimulate a greater awareness and engagement of Civil Society in the national and regional policy dialogue. In so doing we are also prompted to recognize that the IMF-World Bank Spring Meetings in Washington DC were taking place at the same time as the 16th Global Convention of Civil Leaders in Belgrade to mark International Civil Society Week. More specifically we zero in on the lessons for Civil Society in the Caribbean.
The Triggers from the IMF-World Bank Civil Society Forum
The Civil Society Policy Forum has become an integral part of the Annual Spring Meetings and provides an open space for dialogue among representatives of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and other stakeholders. The major themes of the 2019 Forum with 36 sessions were Building Resilience, Challenges to the Economy, Engaged Community and Investing in Human Capital. In addition, there were 4 interactive plenaries with IMF and World Bank officials, and a CSO Innovative Fair that provided insights into the vital roles of civil society across all the major themes. While the website link provides an idea of the scope of the discussions, it is impossible to capture the vibrant spirit and impact of this 4 day event.
The wide range of issues provide a useful template that would contribute to the viability of CSOs in the Caribbean.
The Evolving context of Civil Society in the Caribbean
A long history of Civil Society activity in the Caribbean dates back to the 18th century. It evolves out of a spirit of volunteerism. During its earliest manifestation following the abolition of slavery, Free Villages were established by neighbours helping each other to erect structures, farming, and the building of roads and other civil works through voluntary service. Groups of individuals initiated investment and savings schemes outside the formal banking system in the form of su-su, box hand, and the pyramid scheme. The emergence of trade union movements from the early 20th Century, and professional organizations like teacher’s associations injected a changing structure of civil society. The black power movement of the 1960s and 1970s and the anti-apartheid struggle that escalated in the 1980s and 1990s provided an international dimension. In the contemporary period, the articulation for gender equality in the US has merged into the “Me too” and “Times up” movements. Then there are the inroads of the gay rights movement. In the Caribbean there have been the rulings in the High Courts of Belize and Trinidad and Tobago that to criminalize same sex relations between consenting adults in private is unconstitutional. A similar ruling by the CCJ on "cross-dressing” in Guyana has consolidated the stand for human rights among others. These trends together give validity to NGOs and CSOs that champion Justice for All.
The CARICOM Charter of Civil Society : Projecting "the Soul of the Region"
The CARICOM Charter of Civil Society, for example, provides a unique set of transformational aspirations. Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community signed the Charter in February 1997 in St. John's, Antigua and Barbuda. It was the first of its kind in the world. This Charter undertook to pay due regard to one of the strongest recommendations of the West Indian Commission (WIC) as contained in its report, Time for Action.
"We attach much importance to this proposal for a Charter of Civil Society. CARICOM needs normative moorings; we have found widespread yearning for giving the Community a qualitative character [in which] values beyond the routine of integration arrangements themselves can be judged and to which they can be made to conform. The Charter can become the soul of the Community, which needs a soul if it is to command the loyalty of the people of CARICOM.
It is also worthy to note that the 2002 dialogue between CARICOM Heads of Government and civil society representatives in Guyana inspired the LILIENDAAL STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLES ON FORWARD TOGETHER. It agreed on institutionalizing regular engagements and more constructive participation of Civil Society representatives in appropriate decisions making organs of the Community. Although a Task Force established a comprehensive strategic framework for triennial forums, Forward Together was never repeated, presumable because civil society leadership was perceived to have competing political ambitions and Caribbean Civil society was not sufficiently cohesive at that time to take a stand. CARICOM ostensibly lost its soul. But it can be restored.
Optimistic Trends in the reformulation of Civil Society
There are some recent developments in the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region that parallel those at the IMF-World Bank's Civil Society Policy Forum. The VIII Summit of Americas process, April 12-14 ,2018 in Peru under the theme, Democratic Governance against Corruption established codes of conduct by which to hold Governments, Managers in the Private Sector and Boards and members of Civil Society accountable to the highest standards of governance. Similar guidelines were approved at a sub-regional consultation of the Caribbean Regional Civil Society in late 2018 hosted by the Caribbean Policy Development Centre (CPDC) in Jamaica, under the theme, Caribbean Civil Society Setting the 2030 Agenda: Counter Narratives and Heterodox Thinking. More notable were the recommended solutions to the challenges faced by Caribbean Civil Society. Among them were adopting the timelines and the targets of the selected area(s) from among the 17 SDGs; establishing strategies for the pursuit of shared responsibility with the private and public sector; participation of civil society in the monitoring of government management; involving civil society in climate resilience, and supporting the call of Dominica's Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit for investments after the devastation of Hurricane Maria to make Dominica the first Climate resilience country in the world.
Barbados is an outstanding example of the involvement civil society in planning for sustainable economic development. The refrain used by Prime Minister Mia Motley from her acceptance speech after her party's landslide victory at the polls, December 2017 is "putting people at the heart of the matter". This has been put into effect by a social partnership process for economic recovery that includes trade unions, business and civil society. It provides a voice for civil society in formulating plans and taking action on policies related to the reorganization of government regulations, sharing the debt burdens, mitigating the social effects and averting increased unemployment while restoring free tertiary education as an investment in human capital. This is the second occasion that Barbados has highlighted the tripartite partnership model of shared economic planning in response to an economic crisis.
Perhaps among the most path breaking of global developments among CSOs are the activities of CIVICUS, an international non- profit organization. It is a global alliance dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil societies around the world. It has representatives in New York and Geneva to liaise with various UN Forums. While registered in both New York and South Africa, it has moved its headquarters to Johannesburg to better represent its primary constituency in the Global South. Its annual State of Civil Society Report monitors major global developments and key trends impacting civil society. Its 2019 Report covers 196 countries, of which all CARICOM member states are included. Its Monitoring and Tracking Civil Society Space Watch List draws attention to 111 countries, including 6 billion people where there are serious challenges to civic freedoms of expressions, association and peaceful assembly. www.civicus.org
Speaking at the 16th Global Convention of Civil Leaders and the 4th edition of international Civil Society week in Belgrade on April 11, 2019, Lysa John, Secretary General of CIVICUS placed the role of civil society in perspective. "We cannot be the generation that lost the fight to protect civic freedoms and democratic values. There is need for refreshed strategies to challenge discrimination and exclusion or new ways to demonstrate innovation and accountability as a sector "
The issues promoted at the IMF-Word Bank Civil Society Policy Forum in Washington DC and the advocacy at the Global Convention of Civic Leaders in Belgrade are significant. They bring into picture the important recommendations of the West Indian Commission issued 27 years ago and the need to revisit the institutionalization of the CARICOM Civil Society Engagement in keeping with the Caribbean Charter on Civil Society introduced 22 years ago and the recommendations from the CARICOM Civil Society Conference Forward Together 14 years ago. But the discussions in Washington DC and Belgrade provide new perspectives on inclusion, social accountability, human capital, gender equality and financial access. So too are some of the more recent Caribbean models. Chief among these are the Barbados Social Partnership Initiative (2018) and the Strategic Plan for Caribbean Policy Development Centre (2018) which includes adopting timelines and targets of the selected area(s) from among the 17 SDGs and establishing strategies for the pursuit of shared responsibility with the private and public sectors.
More recent global developments have increasingly placed emphasis on some specific themes: "weathering the next storm - Debt relief as a Crisis: Response for Caribbean SIDS", "Strengthening Civil Society Response in Climate Action Initiative", "The right to health and education" , " Youth Leading on the SDGs", "Stakeholder engagement in the face of the shrinking Civil Society Space and Reprisals against Community Representatives", "Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity".
The impetus for giving prominence to civil society in the development equation of the Caribbean exists. So is the enabling environment for Caribbean Civil Society to claim its rightful place in the social partnership to achieve sustainable human development. As we reflect on the meaning of International Civil Society Week, we must aim at redeeming the soul of the Community.
Caribbean Court of Justice: Failure to Recognize its Appellate Jurisdiction is a Lack of Self Respect : Time for Civil Society to Take Action.Read Now
The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) was inaugurated on April 16, 2005 with a grand ceremony in Trinidad and Tobago. It ushered in a Court with two jurisdictions. The first is an original jurisdiction in which the CCJ interprets and applies the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). The second is an appellate jurisdiction that hears appeals as the court of last resort in both civil and criminal matters from those member states which have ceased to allow appeals to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC).
The 2005 ceremony inspired optimism which can be more clearly understood by a progression of events. CARICOM’s admissions of Dutch-speaking Suriname in 1995, and Créole-speaking Haiti where French is the official language in 2002, substantially enhanced the cultural and judicial mix of the Community. The Conference of Caribbean Heads of Government meeting in Bahamas in 2001 signed the revised Treaty of Chaguaramas replacing the Community and Common Market with the proposed CARICOM Single Market and Economy. This was seen as a step toward a maturing integration system functioning as a multistate democracy of Sovereign states. The laudable concept included the CARICOM Heads of Government and the Community Council as an executive arm; an Assembly of Caribbean Community Parliamentarians (ACCP) as a legislative arm and the CCJ, as its judicial arm.
In that era also the CARICOM Heads of Government Meetings made provision for a space for dialogue with the private sector and also agreed to make a civil society forum introduced in 2003 a triennial feature in the CARICOM Agenda. More recently. Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, CARICOM's Secretary General has institutionalized an annual engagement with Caribbean Youth in collaboration with the CARICOM Youth Ambassadors corps. However, in the intervening period the ACCP fizzled after three meetings and so did the space for dialogue with the private sector and civil society. Also, the CCJ in its appellate jurisdiction is floundering for what may be generously be interpreted as a lack of confidence.
Our focus on the CCJ is due to the belief that its existence, acceptance and sustainability are integral to the self -respect of Caribbean people.
The Contextual History of Advocacy for a Regional Court in the Caribbean
As early as 1901 there is reference to an Editorial in the Jamaica Gleaner newspaper on the need for a Regional court to service the British colonies of the West indies. In 1970, the Jamaica delegation tabled a proposal at the Sixth Meeting of the Heads of Government Conference of Commonwealth Caribbean Countries for the establishment of a Regional Court of Appeal. Similar recommendations were made by the Organization of the Commonwealth Caribbean Bar Associations in 1970; at the tenth CARICOM Heads of Government Meeting in 1989; and in the Time for Action Report of the West Indian Commission in 1992. There was also the signing of agreements between 2001-2003 by all CARICOM countries to establish the Caribbean Court of Justice. Consequently, in August 2003 the first meeting of the Regional Judicial and Legal Services Commission (RJLSC) was held and on August 18, 2004, The Right Honourable, Mr. Justice Michael de la Bastide of Trinidad and Tobago was sworn in as the first President of the Caribbean Court of Justice.
The CARICOM Single Market and Economy triggered the need for the settlement of disputes as reflected in the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas. Consequently, the main challenges facing the RJLSC were making provision for the composition of the Court by competent Caribbean judges and freeing the Court from political interference by guaranteeing its operations through a Trust fund, managed by an independent commission. All CARICOM countries except The Bahamas have signed on to the CCJ in its original jurisdiction and contribute to the its Trust fund. The major concern is that so far only Barbados, Belize , Dominica and Guyana have signed on the Court in its appellate jurisdiction
A Regional Court essential to a Caribbean Civilization
The case for discontinuing the gratuitous service from British judges ‘which our West Indian judges are capable of providing ourselves’ is not novel nor new. in the 1960s, Norman Manley believed that the Privy council as the final court in a foreign land was incapable of molding a Caribbean jurisprudence. Guyana’s 1966 Independence constitution sanctioned the abolition of appeals to the Privy Council. Owen Arthur, Prime Minister of Barbados in a lecture to the Institute of International Relations, UWI, St. Augustine in 2004 was emphatic that “every civilization in history has become a civilization on the strength of its capacity to deliver justice on its own. What are we as a people if we have to look to others to deliver justice for us”.
There are the many references to the capability in the Caribbean to effectively operate Its own final court of appeal. One of the most poignant examples is provided in The Dictionary of Caribbean and Afro- Latin American Biography (Oxford University Press 2016 Vol 3). It refers to the memorial lecture in 2004 by The Rt. Hon. Justice Michael de la Bastide, President of the Caribbean Court of Justice on Telford Georges, a Dominican and pioneering campaigner for the CCJ. The lecture highlighted Justice Georges’ unshakeable confidence in the maturity of the region’s jurists and their capacity to manage a robust judicial system and sustain the CCJ as a cornerstone of the Caribbean Community. This view was no doubt shared by the Privy Council, when for example, in reference to the judgment of one of the Region’s Courts of Appeal ( Bertoli et al V Malone 1991), it said:
“…the arguments and the authorities have been so fully and so meticulously rehearsed in the careful and instructive judgment of the Court of Appeal … that it would be a work of supererogation for their Lordships to repeat what was there said in different and probably less felicitous language. They are content to accept and adopt the reasoning … in toto”. The author of that Court of Appeal judgment was Justice Phillip Telford Georges.
In 1992, the West Indian Commission Report, Time for Action, was unequivocal in stating: “As CARICOM countries come to grips with issues pertaining to governance and the securing of civil society everywhere, it must be to a local, not an external, court that we must look for the sensitive and courageous development of the law.” And, as for the judicial talent for staffing the Court, the Commission was just as forthright in asserting that “there can be no room for doubt.” Recalling the many high judicial positions in which Caribbean judicial officers had served in international bodies, such as the International Criminal Court, and in many Commonwealth countries, the Commission posed the question: “What ails us that we lack the confidence to go forward?”
There are other persuasive arguments put forward by many students of constitutional law. They include:
Why the Negative view of the CCJ
Although some governments were excited over the CCJ, the people themselves have not harboured similar sentiments. According to Justice Adrian Saunders, President of the CCJ, this may partly be blamed on the court’s communications strategy and partly to the blow-back of a lack of confidence in the ability of local courts. He refers a characterization of the CCJ by Caribbean citizens: “ a feeling that if we are not very happy with the way in which justice is being delivered on the local stage, then why are we going to add on top of that another local-Caribbean layer?". He however rejects the notion that continuing to support appeals to the Privy Council on the basis that local judges are too close to power wielders and that politicians could exit the court at any time, creating a constitutional crisis.
Yet Judging from responses of Caribbean citizens, negative notions of the value of the CCJ, prevail. The results of all but one (Guyana 1978) of eight referenda to secure majorities for constitutional reforms in the post-independence have failed. These include Nevis (1988), The Bahamas (2002 and 2016), St Vincent and the grenadines (2009), and Grenada (2016 and 2018). The latest rejections in 2018 referenda in Antigua and Barbuda and Grenada are instructive. Grenada’s government had won all 15 seats in the General elections, 8 months earlier. The Government of Antigua and Barbuda came to power in the same period winning 15 of 17 seats. The situation is adequately reflected in the statement by David O’Brien: “it is unlikely that any government will in the circumstances and in the absence of political maturity and magnanimity, pursue any further constitutional reform in the near future" (The end of the CCJ? International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) November 26, 2018)
Taking Action for Self -Respect
There are difficulties faced by our political leaders to take the CCJ over the finish line. Civil Society therefore needs to step up to the plate in its self-interest. The main issue is for civil society , including youth leaders, members of bar associations, in particularly young jurist to advocate for a change in citizens' perceptions and understanding of the importance of the CCJ to the sustainability of the Caribbean Community. This requires sharing and disseminating information through public fora and social media, applying the power of disruption through peaceful demonstrations and “calling out parliamentarians” to work toward bipartisan solutions. There are several options for consideration.
First, It is now widely accepted that the CCJ, in its original jurisdiction, does have a vital role to play in the development of Caribbean Community Law, especially in relation to the dispute settlement procedures. The celebrated case Shanique Myrie, a Jamaican vs the Government of Barbados is an outstanding example of an empowered Court. It established Caribbean “Community law” by interpreting and applying the provisions of the CARICOM Treaty and decisions of its principal organ, the Heads of Government Conference. In this respect it has “widened and enlarged the bundle of rights of the Citizens of the Caribbean Community.”
Second. the negativity toward the CCJ can be reversed. The Constitutions of Jamaica and St Lucia require a two-thirds majority of both Houses to amend the entrenched provisions. In Jamaica there remains a stalemate as the Jamaica Labour Party insists on the need for a referendum. A similar stalemate exists in Trinidad and Tobago where a bi-partisan approach to achieving an absolute majority in both Houses of Parliament, will suffice. In St Vincent the Grenadines, the withdrawal of support by the opposition, New Democratic Party was blamed for the 2009 vote against the CCJ. The current governments of St Lucia and St Kitts and Nevis, the CCJ is not an identified priority. None of these challenges is insurmountable.
Third, referenda rarely provide the solutions on issues of constitutional reform. They become entangled with political matters beyond the question put to the electorate. They are often distorted by disinformation and political wars as in the case of Brexit in the UK. Given the history of failed referenda across the Caribbean since independence, governments will most likely be unwilling to expend political capital to use them as a source of gaining popular support for constitutional reform.
Fourth, after 14 years in operation, the independence of the CCJ judges and their insulation from political influence or interference seem to be intact. So are the procedures for financial sustainability through the Trust Fund. In addition, the CCJ’s 2019-2022 Strategic plan clearly articulates steps to address a number of issues that have prevented it from being accepted and seen in a positive light among the masses across the region.
Fifth, while constitutional bottlenecks do exist, the current situation is by and large due to a lack of political will. It is more so the creatures of political partisanship, political tribalism and political adventurism. How else to interpret the threat of former Prime Minister Stuart of Barbados (2018) to withdraw his country from the CCJ because of judgements " by politician in robes" given against Barbados . Or the decision of the opposition parties in Grenada and Antigua and Barbuda, according to Ron Saunders “to give the governing party a bloody nose”.
As we plan for the celebration of 15 years of the CCJ in 2020, it is essential to exercise options and take action. A viable judicial arm of a Caribbean Community is critical to "unlocking the potential" of the Caribbean. It is vital to a Caribbean civilization. It is a prerequisite to ensuring that constitutions adapt to the changing times. Unfortunately, essential pillars of the governance structure of the Caribbean Community that could deliver on this mission have been discontinued. Hence the restoration of the Association of Caribbean Parliamentarians and the Civil Society Dialogue in the calendar of the Caribbean Community is worth considering. At least there is need to redouble efforts to replace the gloomy outlook on constitutional reform with the prospects of a future brightened by the triumph of our self-respect.
This blog is essentially a review of the book by Alister McIntyre, The Caribbean and the Wider World: Commentaries on My Life and Career (University of the West Indies, (UWI) 2016. It is dedicated to his colleague and very good Friend, the late William Demas . It portrays a man of exceptional talent; a brilliant academic, a revered administrator, highly skilled negotiator, inspirational thinker, creative leader, massive global reputation and a magnificent human being.
Dr Compton Bourne, the author of this review is former President of the Caribbean Development Bank, former Pro Vice Chancellor, UWI and Principal of UWI, St Augustine. He is currently a member of the Panel of Eminent Persons for the Anthony N. Sabga Caribbean Awards for Excellence and Professor Emeritus, UWI.
This absorbing book is about the life and career of Sir Alister Meredith McIntyre, a quintessential Caribbean man. it is also about issues, personalities, policies and events central to the social and economic development of the Caribbean in a changing global system.
His childhood and early life in Grenada revolves around a strong supportive mother. it also details the impact of the rise and collapse of his father’s business at the end the Second World War, which was an early lesson in how imperial trade policy can harm domestic enterprise and devastate Caribbean households.
As a precocious exceptionally gifted student at the Grenada Boys Secondary School, he negotiated with the authorities to take economics as one of his examination subjects, having discovered one of Arthur Lewis’ seminal works. At 16, he entered the active labour force and continued in several jobs, including that of radio disc jockey. He then grasped an opportunity presented to study at the London School of Economics. He excelled: gaining a first class honours degree in Economics before going to Oxford University to undertake graduate work.
In London, McIntyre evolved into a 'Caribbeanist' . He recalls his optimism about a Caribbean Federation based on the brilliance of the Caribbean political leadership of Norman Manley (Jamaica), Albert Gomes (Trinidad and Tobago) , Grantley Adams (Barbados) and Albert Maryshaw (Grenada) at a London conference arranged by the British Government. His hopes like so many, were to be dashed by the subsequent break-up of the Federation in 1962. These fluctuating experiences were to imbue McIntyre with a passionate desire to assist in rekindling the flames that would contribute toward achieving an integrated Caribbean.
Making UWI relevant to Caribbean Development Issues
His stint as a lecturer at the then University College of the West Indies began in August 1960. He encountered considerable resistance by an English faculty led by Professor Charles Kennedy to incorporate Caribbean content in the teaching of Economics. However, Sir Arthur Lewis and Sir Philip Sherlock, two successive UWI Vice Chancellors provided opportunities for McIntyre to research, write and lecture on Caribbean development. Lecturing at Princeton University, Columbia University and UNECLAC and attending the very influential Inflation and Economic Growth Conference in Rio de Janeiro in 1963 provided him with the opportunity to write papers on Decolonialization and Trade Policy in the West Indies. It also allowed him to situate the Anglophone Caribbean within the global debate on 'unequal trade and development' started by Raoul Prebisch, Director of the Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLA) and Secretary General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). This initiated scholarly interaction and collaboration with Latin America and the Hispanic Caribbean. Herein lies hallmarks of his growing academic fame and the foundations that were subsequently to benefit the UWI and the Caribbean Community.
McIntyre's assignment to the UWI St Augustine campus in Trinidad and Tobago in 1964 was significant. He establish the Faculty of Social Science there; made the case for the introduction of the honours programme in Economics and the undergraduate degree in Management Studies. Returning to the UWI Mona campus in 1967 as Director of the Institute of Social and Economic Research further underscores McIntyre's inspired leadership. He created a robust research programme, pioneered the expansion of ISER to the St Augustine and Cave Hill campuses; recruited multidisciplinary teams of researchers, mobilized substantial resources, and established the Regional Monetary Studies Programme, later to be named the Caribbean Centre for Money and Finance,. This was a collaborative venture among the central banks, monetary authorities, and UWI. When he left ISER and UWI to take up the position as Secretary General of the Caribbean Community Secretariat in Georgetown, in 1974, it seemed to be a natural progression toward leadership of the regional integration process.
An Unfolding Talent in great demand
McIntyre's numerous assignments demonstrated his boundless talents. Under the wise tutelage of Sir Harold Robinson in London, he worked successfully on preparations for negotiation of Trinidad and Tobago’s citrus agreement with the UK. He collaborated with William Demas in 1969 on a development response to social problems and youth alienation which were deeply troubling Prime Minister Eric Williams. In Jamaica, he worked on the literacy campaign, the successful Bauxite negotiations and on the Task Force on Financing Tertiary Education. In Guyana, his assignments included the bauxite negotiations between the Canadian company and the government, the Commonwealth Expert Group on Development and Adjustment based on the wide-reaching economic reforms and the Herdmanston Accord of 1998 for an early resolution of political conflict through a shortening of the timetable for general elections.
Other assignments included chairing the Technical Advisory Committee on Constitutional Reform in the Leeward and Windward Islands and the OECS Commission on Tax Reform and Administration.
A catalyst for CARIFTA and the Shaping of CARICOM
Eric Williams so impressed by McIntyre's paper, ”Aspects of Development and Trade in the Commonwealth Caribbean” requested its distribution throughout the region and suggested an expert group meeting which UWI duly hosted at its Mona campus. This paper was one of three documents presented to Caribbean Heads of Government meeting in Barbados 1967. The others were the Report of the UWI Mona Meeting of Experts and the Dickenson Bay Agreement, drafted by Shridath Ramphal , then Guyana's Minister of Foreign Affairs. That meeting agreed to establish CARIFTA with its Secretariat in Guyana and the Caribbean Development Bank in Barbados . William Demas, oversaw the transition from CARIFTA to CARICOM, thereby being its inaugural Secretary General in 1970.
Alister McIntyre was a natural fit to lead the regional movement in 1974. His discussion of his tenure at CARICOM illustrates a still recurring problem of ambitious regional ideas and plans that go unmatched by financial and human resource capacity. For example, The Caribbean Food Production Plan, the brainchild of Prime Minister Williams was diligently prepared by William Demas and other experts. The plan collapsed when Williams withdrew funding after Guyana and Jamaica decided to seek associate status with COMECON. Trinidad and Tobago subsequently dis-engaged from CARICOM and for seven years did not participate in CARICOM Heads of Government meetings.
Consequently, The West Indian Commission was conceived by A.N.R Robinson who served as Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago between 1986-1991. He was concerned about the loss of the integration momentum and the long dis-engagement of his country in CARICOM. The seminal Report of the Commission, which included approximately 20 Commissioners, titled Time for Action was drafted by Shridath Ramphal and William Demas with the support of Alister McIntyre. It was based on consultations with a wide range of stakeholders in the Caribbean and the Diaspora and provided useful recommendations for revitalizing regional integration. Among the recommendations identified to address the critical implementation problem was the appointment of 3 CARICOM Commissioners and a Chairman. Rumours of which political leaders were identified for the positions so divided CARICOM Heads at their meeting in Port of Spain in 1992 that in McIntyre’s words “the report sank like a stone”. That report stands as a landmark document . It is worth reading or rereading. See Overview to the West Indian Commission:
The demise of Time for Action happened after Alister Mc Intyre had returned to UWI as its Vice Chancellor. So he will no doubt take some comfort that included in the Grande Anse Declaration, UWI was designated a regional institution "in perpetuity'' .
Flourishing on the International Stage
In between leaving the CARICOM Secretariat in 1977 and returning to UWI in 1988, Mc Intyre commanded the international stage. He had long ago signalled his outstanding negotiation skills. Among the major earlier achievements include negotiations at Lomé I to Lomé IV and the Commonwealth Prime Minister's Meeting in Jamaica in April 1975. He credits these successes to thorough preparation, identification and assessment of the interests of the various countries, consultation and compromise, and the building of coalitions towards mutually acceptable outcomes.
Moving from Director of the Commodities Division to Deputy Secretary-General and Officer in Charge of UNCTAD, was seamless. Mc Intyre succeeded in getting agreement on the Common Fund for commodity producing countries, organised and managed UNCTAD VI and dealt with preliminary preparations for the Generalised System of Movement in short order Trade Preferences. At UN headquarters, he was engaged in a review of the Economic and Social Secretariats and in the Administrative Coordination Committee which is central to the administration of the UN system.
He also worked in Tanzania and Zimbabwe where he engaged with President Julius Nyerere and briefly with President Robert Mugabe. He was an associate of the South Commission headed by Manmohan Singh from the Indian Planning Commission, his friend from Nuffield College Oxford University , who later became India’s Prime Minister. His account of the work of the South Commission, provides a glimpse of the views and attitudes on development of US President Jimmy Carter, Germany Chancellor Willy Brandt, and the World Bank President Sir James Wolfenson.
Back at UWI at the Helm
In 1988, Alister McIntyre returned to The University of the West Indies as Vice-Chancellor. He succeeded Ashton Preston who died in office from post-surgery complications. He indicates that he had harboured early views on the development of UWI and how it should situate itself in the academic world at large. An invitation from the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago to deliver the Annual Eric Williams Memorial Lecture in May 1988 provided him with an opportunity even before he had taken up office as Vice-Chancellor to set out several key development objectives to enable the institution to quickly move towards 'Its ultimate aim in expanding its presence and impact within the region, with the direct objective of stepping up the latter’s economic growth and social impact.”
McIntyre envisaged a substantially expanded student enrolment on and off-campus and a stronger effort and performance in research, especially in science and technology. He was dismayed by the negative response of some UWI members and wryly remarked: “I underestimated the degree of difficulty I would encounter on assuming the post of Vice-Chancellor.”
Immediately upon taking up office, he was confronted with the challenge of substantially rebuilding physical capacity at the Mona campus in the aftermath of Hurricane Gilbert. The financial support of the Jamaican business community led by Denis Lalor was invaluable.
McIntyre led the formulation of a 10-year development plan for the university. The targets included a 50% increase in on-campus student enrolment; growth in outreach and off-campus enrolment; the strengthening of postgraduate studies and research; more multidisciplinary programmes of research and studies in emerging areas; increased R&D in science and technology; growth in humanities and the creative arts; greater inter-campus linkages and complementarities; mobilisation of US$300million through bilateral and multilateral development assistance, public appeals, private sector contributions and government contributions.
The notion of non-governmental funding to such an extent was novel to the UWI. The establishment of the UWI Foundation in the US was estimated to have raised more than US$1billion during his tenure.
A truly transformative funding initiative of McIntyre which he does not detail in the text was the exceptionally large IDB loan and grant for long term development of teaching and research capacity in science and technology combined with resources from the CDB for distance education capacity expansion. Not discussed also is the establishment of Institutes of Business at Mona and St Augustine and the introduction of undergraduate management studies programmes at Cave Hill with support from the local business communities and USAID.
A major pre-occupation of Vice Chancellor McIntyre was the financial viability of the UWI. Trinidad and Tobago at one stage owed the university about US$400 million.” UWI was in a financial crisis. The University leadership which in the mid-1980s could not envisage less financial dependence on governments, suddenly found itself not only with sizeable reductions in the university budgets approved by those governments but in major shortfalls in amounts actually paid up. This was the problem for which the successful McIntyre three- component financing strategy was developed.
One component was to eliminate the arrears and stabilize annual payments. The second was the drive for donations from the Caribbean and international business sector, private individuals, foreign governmental agencies and multilateral institutions. The was the reform of tuition fees to move from a situation of almost zero cost recovery to a target of 25 per cent.
McIntyre set in train the modernization of UWI .
Mc Intyre throughout this account credits the contributions of a wide array of colleagues friends and family and was particularly complementary the high quality of West Indian diplomats, national, regional and international public servants and scholars. He laments the Region's tendency to perpetuate an implementation deficit and failure to escape the limitations of small size by taking advantages of opportunities to link with other markets of the Region as a whole. He adequately summarises the underlying philosophy that drove his inordinate passion for Caribbean development: “I had always conceived that the best prospects for sustained development in the Caribbean might lie in a judicious combination of domestic, regional, bilateral, plurilateral and multilateral opportunities for enlarging their domestic prospects. The Caribbean needs to develop a greater capacity for dealing with the rest of the world in pursuit of its own development”.
P J Paterson, former Prime Minister of Jamaica adequately summarises our sentiments:
" the intellectual genius of Alister Mc Intyre , expertly sharpened on the whetstone of unparalleled experience, has generated this brilliant book that should attract a wide readership within the Caribbean and wider world".
Global Frontier this week highlights a Share Fair on Men’s Health, an initiative by the Caribbean Community's Pan Caribbean Partnerships Against HIV/AIDS (PANCAP) held on March 14, 2019 in Trinidad and Tobago. It is an illustration of a prototype through an interactive methodology and active participation of practitioners. It addresses the critical issues of men’s health with a focus on accelerating prevention to achieve the UNAIDS’ 90-90-90 Targets, a scientific approach to ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030. The main features are: How to get 90% of men with HIV knowing their status? How to get 90% of those knowing their status on treatment? How to get 90% of those on treatment with viral loads in the blood low enough as not to transmit HIV.
The Share Fair, a component of The PANCAP Knowledge for Health Project, is funded by PEPFAR-USAID and implemented by the Center for Communication Programs, John Hopkins University. It included a ‘knowledge cafe’ highlighting successful men’s health programmes. In so doing, it provided a space for National AIDS Programme managers, health professionals and representatives of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in the Caribbean, to showcase best practices, discuss critical challenges, and provide recommendations for increasing access to services for men, including men who have sex with men and other key populations in achieving 90-90-90.
The Share Fair was a response to the UNAIDS Global AIDS Update 2018 showing that gay men and other men who have sex with men accounted for nearly a quarter of new infections in 2017. The report also highlighted that efforts to reach men and boys, and particularly gay men and other men who have sex with men, are constrained by health services insufficiently tailored to their needs and limited community-based services.
Dr Shanti Singh-Anthony, Coordinator of the PANCAP Knowledge for Health Project hailed the activity as a success. She said it highlighted “ innovations from country programmes that have achieved positive results in relation to increasing access to prevention, treatment, care and support services for men and boys. Implementers of programmes who are challenged to reach men with health services can use the innovative practices to increase men’s access to quality health services.”
The link to the event taken from the PANCAP.org website is: https://spark.adobe.com/page/iuc4XSGTBTrG1/
See the National AIDS Programme coordinators, health professionals and representatives of civil society in the Caribbean at work. Engage in a dialogue with PANCAP’s Knowledge for Health Programme. Share your experiences. Make a difference to the challenge of ending the AIDS epidemic.
A significant event uniting young people across the globe occurred on Friday March 15, 2019. It was deemed a student strike for action on Climate Change. Young climate activists are hoping to spark a widespread dialogue about climate change. The coordinators of the event were obviously following in the footsteps of their peers in Parkland, Florida, who led a national conversation in the USA about gun control after a mass shooting at their school. But it was sixteen-year-old Greta Thunberg that kicked off the "climate action" movement last summer in Sweden and subsequently gained attention when she delivered a powerful speech at the United Nations climate summit in December 2018. The wave of 'students skipping school’ under a banner such as "US Youth Climate Strike" was replicated, according to the BBC in student marches in more than 100 countries including South Africa, India, New Zealand and South Korea. And in Europe, students marched in London, Lisbon, Vienna, Rome and Copenhagen, among others. Some rallies were reported to have attracted tens of thousands. This happening raises several questions: What were the demands? Why the urgency? Which countries contribute the most to the global problem? How to accelerate the momentum of this global movement toward achieving the targets of Sustainable Development Goal #13: Climate action by 2030? The targets of SDG 13 aim to take action to combat climate change and its impacts by regulating emissions and promoting developments in renewable energy.
What are the Demands?
Although student demands varied from country-to-country, the common concern was the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The menu of demands is best illustrated on the Youth Climate Strike website:
Why the urgency?
Economic development and climate change are intricately linked. The linkages are particularly so among indicators of poverty, gender equality, energy and the environment. The youth are rightly concerned about the slow pace of action taken by governments and the private sectors at the national, regional and international levels. Despite numerous international commitments, the situation is serious according to a 2018 report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It states that the planet will reach the crucial threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels by as early as 2030. This will trigger greater risks of extreme drought, wildfires, floods and food shortages for hundreds of millions of people. Temperature records for the planet, monitored independently by the National Centers for Environmental Information, go back to 1880. They show that the planet is already two-thirds of the way toward exceeding the target for greenhouse emissions with global temperatures having warmed about 1 degree C. They also show that the most recent years , 2015-2017 are so far the three hottest years on record.
Therefore, avoiding going to even higher levels will require significant action in the next few years. Global net emissions of carbon dioxide would need to fall by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 and reach "net zero" around 2050 in order to keep global warming around 1.5 degrees C. Lowering emissions to this degree, while technically possible, would require widespread changes how we deal with energy, industry, buildings, transportation and cities.
Which Countries Contribute most to the Global Problem
While the window on keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees C is closing rapidly, implementing the emissions pledges made by195 countries that were signatories to the 2015 Paris Accord do not add up to us achieving that goal in the 11 years left to 2030. The agreement is to combat climate change and to accelerate and intensify the actions and investments needed for a sustainable low carbon future. The major burden resides in countries that contribute most to the high shares of global carbon dioxide emissions from fuel combustion. These are China (28%), USA (15%), India (6%) Russia (5%) and Japan (4%).
How to overcome?
Ironically the most affected countries contribute least to the global problem They are the Caribbean, Indian Islands and Pacific Islands. As a result, they have combined through the Small Island Development States Forum referred as the SIDS DOCK to make demands on four principal functions from the Paris Accord:
In March 2014, in partnership with the United Nations Industrial and Development Organization (UNIDO), the Government of Austria extended support under a Memorandum of Understanding, with a grant of 1 million euros, for start-up activities for Centres for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency in the Caribbean the Pacific, African and for a centre in the Indian Ocean region. These new centres are supposed to act as hubs, assisting SIDS to translate commitments to actions. In this regard, SIDS DOCK is highly complementary to the work being done under the UN Sustainable Energy For All (SE4All) Initiative. What this means is that SIDS is the largest group of signatories, with the highest ambitions and SIDS DOCK coincides with the demands of the 2019 Youth Students March for Action.
With special reference to youth initiatives, there are several pillars on which to build partnerships to achieve the SDG #13 on climate action. Among these pillars are the SIDS Innovation, the Zero Hour Movement, and the CARICOM Climate Change Youth Forum.
SIDS an example of genuine partnership around an innovative idea
The Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit, Prime Minister of Dominica in his country’s capacity as Chair of the SIDS DOCK Steering Committee, said that SIDS DOCK represents a significant achievement in solidifying SIDS-SIDS relationships and cooperation. He called it “an extraordinary lesson learned of what can happen when a genuine partner takes ‘a chance’ on a new and innovative idea that has the potential to help SIDS adapt and become more resilient to the changing climate and sea level rise.” Following hurricanes Irma and Maria that devastated Dominica, Prime Minister Skerrit advocated for, and is leading the charge to establish a Climate Resilient Island State. This is a major innovative goal in the framework of SIDS and the Paris Accord.
Zero Hour is a movement of a diverse group of youth promoting a conversation around climate and environmental justice
Zero Hour facilitates training and resources for new young activists and organizers (and adults who support their vision) wanting to take concrete action around climate change. The aim is for youth organizing to protect their rights and access to the natural resources and a clean, safe, and healthy environment that will ensure a livable future where they just not survive, but flourish.
The Caribbean Community Climate Change Youth Forum
This CARICOM Institution referred to as 5Cs is intent on sending a clear message to youths across the Caribbean, understanding their critical role as decision-makers and implementers in a climate-aware society. Its programme, Climate Change and Youth – Education today for tomorrow’s leaders is an outreach campaign, particularly geared towards the High School audience piloted in Belize. The emphasis is on understanding the individual contributions, highlighting options of individuals to mitigate and adapt to climate change and developing a climate change tool kit in the form of a data driven booklet, possibly displayed digitally to reach the widest cross section of youth.
These examples of innovations that are intended to remove the misconceptions and mainstream the schools' curricula and public awareness campaigns designed to reach young people efficiently and comprehensively.
The future of Climate Action through Collective Leadership - The potential of the Caribbean Youth Ambassadors Corps
Connecting the Pillars of climate action is vital to SDG #13 by 2030. Around the world, as attested to by the Youth Climate Action, there are several possibilities for sustaining the role of youth. Yet a potentially vibrant source for connecting these pillars goes almost unrecognized. It is the CARICOM Youth Ambassadors (CYA) Corps that falls under the umbrella of the Caribbean Community.
The CYA has received a fillip under the current regime of CARICOM Secretary General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, who has convened annual engagements of CYAs, thereby institutionalizing their roles within the decision making apparatus of the Caribbean Community. They have been actively engaged under the Youth Advocacy Programme of the PANCAP Caribbean Partnership against HIV (PANCAP) located in the CARICOM Secretariat. The CYAs interface with national youth groups and 'marginalized' youth. In 2010, the CYAs completed a report The EYE on the Future which it presented to CARICOM Heads of Governments in Suriname as a template for action. Many of the architects and participants in that venture have graduated to leading positions in International and regional organizations, one is as cabinet minister in a national government. Others are private sector executives, professors, health, education and legal practitioners, media operatives and respected advocates for social justice and equity in leading NGOs.
Within the objectives of SIDS, the CYA is a unique structure championing rights-based approaches to adaptation and resilience-building In so doing it would help to build a movement of people creating, demonstrating and advocating for climate justice and climate resistance It however needs financial support to consolidate its true potential.
The Caribbean has a golden opportunity to influence the next round of student climate action by focusing on collective leadership with specific objectives:
As Ms Ezbai Francis CYA from St Lucia describes the task - " sensitize, collaborate and mobilize"
This week we carry a fascinating perspective on Venezuela that is indeed a Latin America and Caribbean reality. It was carried in the March 12, 2019 issue of Global Americans, an NGO initiative dedicated to smart news and research for Latin American and Caribbean changemakers. It is reproduced with the permission of Professor/Ambassador Jorge Heine
Cúcuta’s Showbiz: Latin American politics as living theater
by Jorge Heine
Fifty years ago, political scientist Charles W. Anderson referred to Latin America as “a living museum.” By this he meant the co-existence of regimes that seemed to belong to very different eras, if not centuries: traditional military dictatorships like Alfredo Stroessner in Paraguay, as well as
bureaucratic-authoritarian ones like Argentina and Brazil; old-fashioned, patrimonial autocracies, like Anastasio Somoza in Nicaragua and François Duvalier’s Haiti and established multiparty democracies like Chile, Costa Rica and Uruguay; two-party systems like Colombia and Venezuela, and one-party- dominant ones, like Mexico’s.
Today’s Latin America is more along the lines of “a living theater.” Comedy (closer often to farce), tragedy and drama are all in full display in presidential palaces throughout the region, with comic opera and operetta making occasional appearances on the playbill. Events in late February in Cúcuta, a Colombian town on the Venezuelan border, are Exhibit A of this new theatrical performative tendency.
Orchestrated by Colombian President Iván Duque, who played the leading role, and with supporting actors like presidents Sebastián Piñera of Chile and Mario Abdo Benítez of Paraguay, it was portrayed as a grand operation to restore democracy in Venezuela. This veritable “diplomatic encirclement” was to bring to an end the Maduro regime, or so the script went. Dozens of trucks with humanitarian aid were poised to cross the bridge from Colombia to Venezuela over the Táchira river. As if on cue, the Venezuelan Armed Forces were then supposed to open the border, defect from the government and allow the self-proclaimed acting president of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó, to take over from President Nicolás Maduro. Although banned from leaving the country, the 35-year old, photogenic Guaidó slipped into Cúcuta, and was the undisputed star of the show. So much so, that Piñera and Benítez found themselves scrambling through Guaidó’s bodyguard-line to get their photo-ops next to the beaming young engineer.
Led by billionaire-cum-celebrity Richard Branson, a rock concert (“Venezuela Live Aid”) to raise $100 million for the whole endeavor was held in situ and included attractions such as Colombian cumbia singer Carlos Vives. The high note of the day was provided by Spanish singer Miguel Bosé (who sang for Pinochet in the 1980s in Viña del Mar), when he elegantly asked former president of Chile and now UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle
Bachelet, “to move her butt and get herself to Venezuela” (both the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross had refused to be part of the show—including the concert and the shipment of humanitarian aid).
In the end, no truck crossed the San Martín bridge, a ship loaded with humanitarian aid sent from Puerto Rico to Venezuela returned with its full cargo to the island, and Maduro strengthened his grip on the country.
Rarely has the region seen such an undiluted diplomatic fiasco. But then, perhaps that was the point. Stagecraft has replaced statecraft.
Not to be outdone, a few days later in Paraguay, Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, a former Army captain, paid homage to the man who ruled that country with an iron fist for 35 years, dictator Alfredo Stroessner, in the presence of his counterpart, Abdo Benítez, the son of Stroessner’s private
secretary. Yet, lest he be accused of showing too much affinity for the old right, Bolsonaro soon pulled other rabbits from his hat. An avid Twitter user, during Brazil’s Carnival Bolsonaro outdid himself by tweeting the picture of a naked man touching himself as another man urinated on him. Later the president posted another, asking, “What are golden showers?” Displaying his common touch and appealing to his base, while attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, the Brazilian president had lunch by himself in a supermarket cafeteria, rather than to do so with other participating heads of state in posh hotel suites. He has though, agreed to visit the White House on March 19, when presumably he won’t eat at the food court in Pentagon City.
Coups, cocaine, corruption, and Cúcuta
In Honduras, the farce has gone into overdrive. In 2009, the country experienced one of the last old-fashioned military coups d’etats, which included the signature feature of detaining the incumbent president at the crack of dawn, and hoisting him, still in his pajamas, into a plane and out of the
country. The ostensible reason for the coup, as those who led it said themselves, was the government’s initiative for a new constitution, which might have allowed the possibility of presidential re-election, forbidden in the current charter. This is such a no-no that a coup was mandatory. Yet, the current president, Juan Orlando Hernández, a leading supporter of the coup,
and elected in 2013, got the Supreme Court to waive that constitutional ban to allow his re-election in 2017, in what was declared by independent observers and The Economist a fraudulent vote.
After stealing the election, the United States recognized him as the president and the region has hailed him as one of the Americas paramount democratic leaders. President Hernández’ younger brother, Juan Antonio (“Tony”) was arrested last November in Miami for long-term drug-trafficking to the United States on behalf of the Sinaloa cartel. His closeness to narcotics traffickers was such that he even allegedly had a type of cocaine named after him. Tony is now behind bars.
Yet, even countries that have done well these years find it hard not to be pulled to the stage. Peru has had among the best economic performances of any nation in the hemisphere this century, growing at an annual average of 6.1 per cent from 2002 to 2013. Yet, every single elected president in this period, Alberto Fujimori, Alan García, Alejandro Toledo, and Ollanta Humala—barring the most recent—is either in prison or has an arrest warrant over their head, a world record that led the New York Times famously to ask, “Does Peru need a special prison just for former presidents?” And even the most recent, Pedro Pablo Kuzcinsky, a banker-turned politician, elected president in 2016 under an anti-corruption platform, was forced to resign in 2018 when it turned out he had received payments from Odebrecht, the Brazilian construction company, while holding public office.
Across the Andes, in Argentina, things are not much better. Once among the top five richest countries in the world, and blessed with the best agricultural land anywhere (the pampa húmeda), and untold (though mostly under-exploited) mineral wealth, Argentina regressed from development to underdevelopment, and fluctuates from boom to bust with bipolar frequency. After its most recent international default (in 2000-2001), and a roller coaster ride under the Kirchners (Néstor Kirchner, 2003-2007, and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, 2007-2015), Argentines and the international community held out hopes for conservative Mauricio Macri, a millionaire businessman who, it was said, would balance the books and straighten out Argentina’s foreign debts. A businessman would clean up the mess left by the peronista politicians, or so the fairy tale went. Yet, a little over three years into Macri’s term, Argentina is drowning in red ink, the peso has hit rock bottom—requiring the International Monetary Fund to shore up the country’s Central Bank reserves—and talk of yet another default has already started.
Venezuela, the country with the biggest oil reserves in the world, and once so rich that Venezuelans in Miami were known as “dame dos” (“give me two”, as whenever they wanted to buy something, they bought not one, but two items ) now undergoes periodic blackouts, and is unable to feed its people, let alone provide basic services. Its president, Nicolás Maduro has found it hard to fill the shoes of his once boss, Hugo Chávez, whose “21st century socialism” model is now in tatters.
Much is made of Venezuela’s humanitarian crisis, and rightly so. Yet, in some ways Haiti’s humanitarian crisis is a lot worse, although nobody pays much attention to it. The country never recovered from the January 2010 earthquake that devastated it. Despite the billions of dollars committed by the international community for reconstruction, nearly ten years later, refugee camps still abound, and even the white stucco, birthday-cake-like presidential palace is still in ruins. Imposed from abroad, hapless Michel Martelly, a former crooner who had never held public office nor run anything before becoming president (2011-2016), limped through as the leader of the hemisphere’s poorest nation. His handpicked successor, Jovenel Moise (2017-present) has not fared much better. A businessman, accused of pocketing some of the proceeds from the discounted oil provided by Venezuela to Haiti under the Petrocaribe scheme, Moise has faced weeks of popular protests. The opposition managed to shut down the country for a week in February, and U.S. and Canadian travel advisories have decimated the tourist industry. Haitians have emigrated to countries as far away as Chile, which 100,000 of them now call home.
As if the large number of existing regional organizations were not enough, a new one has been announced with great fanfare. It carries the imaginative name of PROSUR, taking a leaf from the export-promotion agencies (ProChile, ProColombia, ProMexico) that populate foreign ministries. The lead has been taken by a number of countries (Chile, Colombia, Peru, Argentina) that left another, previous organization, UNASUR, alleging it was “too ideological”—which this one presumably isn’t, even though it is launched by another side of the ideological aisle.
Cúcuta was a trial run for what we can expect from PROSUR. The show goes on.
Jorge Heine is a public policy fellow at The Wilson Center in Washington DC. He is former Chilean Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China; former Chilean Cabinet Minister and Ambassador; former CIGI Professor of Global Governance at the Balsillie School of International Affairs; and Professor of Political Science at Wilfrid Laurier University His latest book (with Brigitte Weiffen) is 21st Century Democracy Promotion in the Americas: Standing Up for the Polity (Routledge, 2015).
This blog is being written on International Women’s Day 2019, the theme of which is Balance for Better . It focuses our attention on the movement for women's rights that is multipurpose, multi-sectoral and multinational in scope and activism. It however provides an opportunity to reflect on the origins, aims and future of a movement that is inclusive.
Origins of Women’s Day
The origins of Women’s day is identified with the Socialist Party of America which organized a Women's Day on February 28, 1909 in New York. The following year (1910) the International Socialist Woman's Conference suggested that Women's Day be held annually. However it was only after women gained suffrage through the right to vote in political elections in Soviet Russia in 1917, that March 8 became a national holiday there. Claire Zillian explains purple is the color of International Women’s Day , signifying justice and dignity. Women she elaborates have depended on clothing color as a symbol of protest. In the UK and USA white was the official color of the suffrage movement. It was worn on election night 2016 in the USA. Black has been the choice of the #Metoo movement, as well as by females in the film industry at the Emmy awards in 2019. White was also a symbol worn by Democratic women in Congress for President Donald Trumps 2019 state of the union address, in protest against sexual harassment. [Fortune Magazine, March 7, 2019]
There have been many variations in the aims and outcomes since International Women’s Day was founded more than a century ago. It became a prominent celebration by the socialist movement and communist countries. It was heralded in the USA in 1910 as 15,000 women marched in New York demanding better working conditions and voting rights. After it was adopted in 1975 by the United Nations, it evolved as a Day for celebrating women’s social, economic and political achievements and calling for gender equality and empowerment. Today, International Women's Day is a public holiday in some countries. In others, it is a celebration of womanhood. In some countries, it is a day of protest. It is largely ignored elsewhere.
Sustaining pillars: Gender equality and women’s empowerment
In many ways, the aims and aspirations that underscore International Women’s Day are consistent with those issues that confront women and girls throughout the year. It connects with the goals of UN General Assembly (Resolution 54/134) designating November 25 as International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which also marks the start of the "16 Days of Activism" preceding Human Rights Day on December 10 each year. Its emphasis on gender quality raises awareness of the fact that women around the world are subject to rape, domestic violence and other forms of violence. It was aptly formulated by former UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon’s campaign in 2014, UNITE to End Violence against Women.” It also is deeply entrenched in the goal of Women's Empowerment which is a process, not a product. It is about equipping and allowing women to make life-determining decisions; having the capability to make important decisions in their lives; and being able to act on them.
These aspects of change however require credible advocates and leaders that could influence institutional responses, mobilize communities for change and champion the empowerment of women and girls.
Illustrations through the response to HIV
There are so many areas to which prescriptions to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment may be applied . Among them are the family, household, workplace, schools, communities, religious organizations and sports. Given the recent and greatly encouraging news from the University of London and Imperial College London that an HIV positive man has been functionally cured, it is useful to note the work at the International Partnership for Microbicides, to expand women’s HIV prevention options with new technologies. This means that innovation is front and center of ending the AIDS epidemic.
The work of the Partnership demonstrates that gender equality and HIV prevention go hand-in-hand. Today, women bear the brunt of the HIV epidemic and, worldwide, young women ages 15-24 are more than twice as likely to acquire HIV as young men of the same age. In this respect “ gender inequities play a large role in limiting women’s ability to negotiate safe sex, or even select their partners. Condoms, while highly effective, are often not a feasible option for many women”. [Partnership for Microbicides 2019 World AIDS Day Message]
The Partnership promotes building smart new ways to help women stay HIV-free and protect their sexual and reproductive health. It also advocates for innovation so that women have a range of tools that fit their needs and circumstances. These include condoms, daily oral pre exposure prophylactic (PrEP), vaginal and rectal microbicides, injectables, implants and vaccines, as well as multipurpose prevention products that prevent both HIV and unintended pregnancy.
First Ladies in Africa and the Caribbean as Credible Advocates
The Organisation of African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA) founded in 2002 currently includes 37 members. They work to cultivate a spirit of solidarity and the exchange of experiences among African First Ladies. Its mission is to contribute to the health and well-being of children, youth and women through advocacy, resource mobilization and strategic partnerships. Given that HIV in young women ages 15-24 in South Saharan Africa remains an urgent problem, OAFLA has developed an ambitious partnership totaling $385 Million for the DREAMS project committed to help girls to develop into Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-Free, Mentored and Safe women. This is being organized through parenting, care giver programmes, cash transfers, educational subsidies, combination of socio-economic approaches and interventions to reduce risk of sex partnerships, school based HIV prevention and interventions that empower girls and young women. Its mission is to increase capacity of women leaders to advocate for effective solutions to respond to the ongoing HIV/AIDS epidemic, and act against stigma and discrimination in the fight against HIV/AIDS. For more details see www.dreamspartnership.org
The Spouses of CARICOM Leaders Action Network (SCLAN) is a non-governmental organization endorsed by CARICOM Heads of Government at their Inter-Sessional Meeting in Guyana in February 2017. It was formally established in September 2018, with Mrs. Kim Simplis Barrow, Spouse of the Prime Minister of Belize, being elected Chair.
SCLAN’s vision is “a Caribbean free from HIV, hepatitis, TB, early pregnancy, and violence, where women and girls know their value and ability” Its mission is aligned with former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s “Every Woman, Every Child” and the Global Initiative and the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health (2016-2030). In this regard SCLAN in collaboration with OAFLA is pursuing joint programmes to achieve global solidarity consistent with the theme of 2019 World AIDS Day. In collaboration with Gilead, several national projects have been launched. Jointly with the PANCAP Coordinating Unit, CARICOM Secretariat, SCLAN is “pressing forward for the health and well-being of women, children and adolescents”. The aim is to increase awareness and to stimulate interest, especially among First Ladies to advocate for the development of programmes that will support the safety, physical and psychological well-being of women, children and adolescents around the world.
Its Vice Chair, First Lady, Her Excellency Sandra Granger of Guyana is a PANCAP Champion for Change which ensures that within the Caribbean, gender equity is high on the agenda. For more information see www.specialenvoy.bz
Both in the case of OALFA and SCLAN there is recognition that gender equity and women’s empowerment require the involvement and engagement of men and boys. Mrs Juliet Holness, spouse of the Prime Minister of Jamaica and Executive Committee member of SCLAN has launched Save our Boys Foundation to respond to the challenge of raising resilient, successful and resourceful boys who become strong, responsible and admirable men.
Innovation through joint action with Men
Joint action among women and men is an essential pillar of gender equality. While the longest running national celebration of Men's Day is in Malta, where events have occurred since 1994, the stage is set with the International Men's Day (IMD), an annual international event celebrated every year on 19 November. It was inaugurated in New York by Thomas Oaster, February 7, 1992. After a lapse of 7 years the project was reinitialized in Trinidad and Tobago by Dr. Jerome Teelucksingh, Lecturer at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, on 19 November 1999 to honour his father's birthday and also to celebrate that date when Trinidad and Tobago's football team had united the country with their endeavours to qualify for the Soccer World Cup in France. Teelucksingh‘s vision has been sustained as more than 80 countries worldwide now celebrate International Men’s Day. Its grass roots activists have promoted International Men’s Day: not just a ‘gendered’ day but one where all issues affecting men and boys can be addressed. Their goal is to remove the negative images and the stigma associated with men in our society. It revolves around six pillars that parallel those of International Women’s Day. They include: promoting men’s and boys health, male role models, gender equality, and family life and humanitarianism.
On this International Day as we reflect the meaning of the theme, "Balance for Better ”, we may wish to contemplate retaining the separate celebrations for men and women but work toward a joint International Day for Gender equality.
It is fitting that Winston Bailey the enigmatic calypsonian known as the Mighty Shadow was a celebrant at the 2019 Panorama Steel Band competition, one of the major events of Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago. He was honored along with recently deceased - internationally acclaimed steel pannist and musical arranger, Professor Ken Philmore and musical composer and calypsonian, Winston Scarborough better known as 'The Original De Fosto Himself'.
Shadow died on October 23, 2018, days before being awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters posthumously at the University of the West Indies graduation ceremony, St Augustine campus, Trinidad and Tobago.
Global one Frontier has reproduced this tribute to Shadow with the permission of the author, Mr. Bokko Rennie. It is a thoughtful portrait of this legend within the calypso art form and a powerful force in shaping calypso’s up-tempo descendant, soca.
Bukka Rennie, a national of Trinidad and Tobago is an historian, writer and advocate. Among his publications is The History of the working class in Trinidad and Tobago 1919-1956 (Minority Press, USA) He attended St Mary's College in Port of Spain and Sir George William University in Montreal, Canada.
Wlliam Blake a British philosopher- poet who lived in the period 1757-1827 wrote the following words in one of his poems: “O see a world in a grain of sand/And heaven in a wild flower/Hold infinity in the palm of your hand/And eternity in an hour..." Listen now to Shadow- Winston Bailey, in his calypso "Evolution": "I am locked in a dungeon/in the middle of evolution/can't find the key/to escape destiny..."
Here's Blake again: "A robin redbreast in a cage/Puts all heaven in a rage/A dog starved at his master's gate/Predicts the ruin of the State/The lamb misused breeds public strife/And yet forgives the butcher's knife... And Listen again to Shadow: "Everything is in harmony/Until the farmer get hungry.../The farmer comes searching the nest/The cock bawl out loud in Protest/Cook curry ochro!..."
If you make the connection between those quotes, the revelation comes. Nature and time and space and all social activity are directly linked, integrated and interrelated. As Blake once wrote: “the sun rises and humanity rejoices and moves, the sun sets and humanity stops and sleeps.” Similarly Shadow would sing in his "My Belief": " I believe in the stars and the dark night/ I believe in the sun and the daylight/ /I believe in the little children/I believe in Life and its problems..."
I have always maintained that, like William Blake, Shadow in his very simplicity and apparent childlike lyrics remains a most complex artist.
Unlike our numerous social commentators who comment on particular and specific events and issues of a political or socio-economic nature, Shadow contemplates natural phenomena and man's relations to the universe. It explains why his approach to most topics: poverty, pressure, friendship, honesty, jealousy, survival, truth, human rights etc. ,all of which are titles of actual Shadow calypsos, signify that tendency of all philosophers including Shadow to draw concrete lessons from abstract treatment of subject matter.
William Blake was no different in his simplicity, poetic abstractions and glorifying of nature. With such an approach both Blake and Shadow force us beyond the ordinariness of daily existence to contemplate the meaning of Life itself, our purpose on Earth, the essence of death and its consequences, the juxtaposing of nature's opposites and how we stand in relation to the rest of the universe; the stars, the moon, the sun, the animals, trees and the birds, etc.
Blake, over the past centuries, came to be well known for the following poems: "Tiger, Tiger, burning bright/In the forests of the night..." and "Little Lamb who made thee? /Dost thou know who made thee?" And more so for the ending of the "Tiger" poem where he questions: "What immortal hand or eye/Dare frame thy fearful symmetry? /Did he who made the Lamb make thee?..."
Likewise Shadow's philosophical questions and statements as evidenced in "What is Life?", "I Believe", "Everybody is Somebody", "One Love", etc. shall in time guarantee the immortality of his work. Shadow symbolically says in song: “you only telling me what to do, telling me where to go, but the knowledge I want to get, is how to escape Mr. Death…” (Toe Jam?)
Besides their great ability to simplify abstract thought and to seek truth out of the clashing of opposites e.g., "the ladder of success is written in distress", both Blake and Shadow also hold in common a sense of alienation from official society. Blake grew up in 18th century England when the simple pastoral life of the countryside was giving way to the overcrowded towns and the exploitation of child-labour that was deemed a commercial necessity in the midst of the widespread Industrial Revolution. At that time there seemed to be little value placed on human existence.
Blake rejected such development and created a body of poetic symbolism to make the meaning of his imagery more powerful. That also allowed him to protect himself from censorship in a time when one could be executed for sedition against Church or State, from which he, Blake, barely escaped on one occasion. Blake's alienation was reflected in his rejection then of all social convention. To him churches or organised religion were "mills of Satan" in which "Satan was called God and compelled man to serve him in abject submission." This God Blake called "Urizen" and he described him as "satanic holiness, revengeful, and a brooding, dark power." Sounds familiar. That is exactly what Farrel is to Shadow. Blake’s “Urizen” and Shadow’s “Farrel” are identical as spiritual, creative force that illuminates them for the world to see.
Shadow emerges out of the pastoral settings and closeness to nature of Les Coteaux, Tobago, to confront the madness of an urban existence that signifies him as "alien". He comes in the midst of a quest, a demand, and an imperative of political Independence, to transform society unto an industrial basis as a platform to facilitate true development, but this "de-colonisation" process is bogged down by Euro-centric parameters that rejects the genuine self-determination of a people as it rejects everything about Shadow's persona: his blackness, his ethnicity (Tobagonian-ness), and most of all his artistic expressions which are described as "growls and groans and animal-like noises." Despite acclaim by the masses, official society kept seeing Shadow as a clown and his lyrics as childish, crass foolishness, and his singing was described as "baying", in other words, inhuman. Simply put; Shadow's raucousness disturbed the smooth urbane existence of the Port-of-Spain brown-skin middle-class creoles.
But the fact is that Shadow emerged after 1970, in the wake of a groundswell of "black consciousness" that clearly establishes that the Eurocentric creole-culture, the culture of official society, could no longer accommodate or embrace the divergences of all who settled here by force or choice and now wished to proclaim their own ways of seeing and doing. Shadow philosophically spearheads this groundswell, he becomes both the medium and the message as he confronts official society and attacks the Calypso Monarchy.
To accomplish this, Shadow summons inspiration and creative strength, not from "Heaven" as the ethics of this Western, Graeco-Roman-Christian world would want to suggest, but from "Hell", in order to overcome and break the musical monarchy ("The Threat").
However the inspiration is not immediate in coming so he considers going back to Tobago to plant peas, when "Farrel suddenly turns up. Victory comes as a result and it is then that we are told that this new "King" shall be a most exacting and revengeful one ("King from Hell"). It is the psychology of intense alienation that produces the brooding revenge of both "Blake’s Urizen" and "Shadow’s Farrel".
In Shadow's Hell he is comfortable. It is a state of mind that allows no limits to creative power. Farrel is the psychological manifestation of this. Farrel is what Winston is not. There is a constant struggle between Farrel and Winston, a struggle of personalities, a struggle between two worlds.
Winston is the tendency of compromise and surrender. Winston has been beaten down by society. Winston is the laid back, quiet, unassuming personality, while Farrel is uncompromising and cannot be accommodated. When Farrel and Winston combine you get "Shadow", a reflection of myth and reality, a new sense of power. Logically then the main symbols of Shadow as an artist have always been "death", "hell" and "children".
"Children" represent the new birth, the new consciousness and thrust against the old order and arrangement, while "death" and "hell", as sources of inspiration and strength, represent the space and time and action of social transformation.
Anyone can trace Shadow's use of these symbolic themes in all his calypsoes and show how he expands the symbols as he goes along to incorporate new imagery and new meaning. In short, Shadow turns all the norms upside down and around.
He was the first calypsonian who in dealing with man/woman and gender relationships in song put the sexes on equal footing and in fact in most instances placed women in control of the situations and in a position to determine outcome especially where their bodies and their sexuality are concerned.
That is quite obvious in "I Come Out to Play", "Rap to Me", "Country Boy", "Shift Yuh Carcass", etc and that in itself was revolutionary when one considers what obtained previously. Moreover, Shadow’s revolution was not only in terms of content but also in terms of form, for in searching for the best means through which to express his novel ideas, he found that it required a whole new approach to calypso, and in so doing ended up freeing calypso from the limitations of its traditional form and structure for all the others like Shorty to follow from 1975 onwards.
That in fact has been Shadow’s greatest contribution, he opened up the Art form, and it is why he is so revered by the present day Rapso exponents like Ataklan.
Describing him as the William Blake of Calypso was an attempt to get people to delve deeper into the man's work, the man's reasoning and into the stirrings of his soul.
One person felt that the analogy to Blake was far-fetched. Why is the analogy to Blake and Blake's England in the throes of early Industrialisation being viewed as far-fetched? Rejection and alienation and violence to the human spirit, violence to creative intelligence, violence to the essence of humanity, is the connecting link.
Both Shadow and Blake experienced rejection and, in turn, rejected the basic underpinnings of Eurocentric society. Blake rejected the God of organised religion in his time. So too Shadow was inspired by "Farrel" since there is really no conception in old African Religions of a Devil and all Gods are ascribed human attributes that are both "good" and "bad".
Finally, Blake in his time and Shadow, now, have created in their art very similar symbols of life and death, and of man's relation to nature in attempt to express their feelings, their reasoning and their truth. And they both did so with a childlike innocence that is not to be construed as childishness.
I have no doubt in my mind about the close affinity of these two in their thought patterns and approach to subject matter. This is rather strange for two men from different epochs, who could never have met but only share the same initials: “WB”. Listen to both of them:
I asked a thief to steal me a peach;
He turned up his eyes.
I asked a lady to lie her down;
Holy and meek she cries.
As soon as I went
An Angel came. He winked at the thief
And smiled at the dame
And without one word said
Had a peach from the tree
And still as a maid
Enjoyed the lady.
What is wrong with dis world
Like it gone outa control
Lunatics in politics
Like they all come out for kicks.
They legalise alcohol
And sell it to Rufus
After which he had ball
And started to cuss
A policeman called Spinks
Came up and arrest him
First he paid for the drinks
And now he paying fuh drinking.
Do you see the common approach? Shadow came from Les Coteaux with these stirrings in his soul, confident, according to Leroy Clarke, in his own obeah and "jumbies" swirling around him. It is all about native sensibility and wit as the only basis from which to see and act differently. One calypsonian commentator said: “Nobody could compose like Shadow because nobody thinks like Shadow.” That reminds me of what he said to me during our last discussion when I went to his Mt. Hope home to discuss the Liner Notes to the special album that was launched in Europe. I said to him: “there is a certain musical arranger who claims that he made you.” Shadow laughed and said: “But he stupid, he shoulda make more.”
Fare thee well, Winston McGarland Bailey. Walk good, my brethren, and thanks for being YOU!