Although GOFAD has taken the month off from posting its weekly blogs , we felt it essential to honour the memory of one of the greatest writers of our time The Utube link truly reflects the impact of Toni Morrison: the Magician of Language
How are Parliamentarians handling their Roles as Advocates for Human Rights, Equality and Justice. The Caribbean Experience.Read Now
Research supports the view that “if people living with HIV feel empowered to be open about their status, they can access the right medical treatment and social support and protect their partners’’. So how do Caribbean Parliamentarians intend to deal with these issues of human rights, equality and justice?
The response will focus on three (3) major issues that have attracted the attention of Caribbean parliamentarians: (a) Implementing the PANCAP Model Anti-discrimination legislation and amending the Sexual Offenses against the Persons Act; (b) Advocating against criminalizing HIV and (c) Resolving the stalemate on Comprehensive Sexual Education (a fourth issue, violence against women, girls and adolescents will be the focus of a subsequent blog).
Adopt the CARICOM Model Anti-discrimination Legislation and amending the Sexual Offenses against the Persons Act
This model Legislation initiated by PANCAP and adopted by the CARICOM Legal Advisory Committee, including the Attorneys Generals of the Region (May 2012) was drafted by some of the best legal minds in the Caribbean. https://caricom.org/.../pancap-model-anti-discrimination-legislation-interface-between-...
It addresses issues impacting people living with HIV and AIDS which are also issues of human rights. Because of the implications of denial of these rights, the Model Legislation promotes an inclusive approach to ending discrimination, not just on the basis of HIV status but on wider grounds, including gender, disability and sexual orientation. A snapshot of the HIV related legal environment in the Caribbean in 2012 remains almost the same today:
Resulting from the current round of Parliamentarian Sensitization Forums coordinated by PANCAP, all countries have agreed to advance the process for implementing the Model as an aspirational goal for eliminating stigma and discrimination, while translating its clauses into legislation to reflect national consensus. The adoption of the model will also respond to many of the outstanding legal gaps that fall under the Offences Against the Persons Act, sections of the Criminal Code, The Immigration Act and laws that support child marriage. These currently engage parliamentarians throughout the Caribbean.
Reconsider Attempts at Criminalizing HIV
The issue of criminalizing HIV has long been under consideration throughout the world. Recently in Jamaica, The Joint Select Committee of Parliament made a recommendation to introduce a law to criminalize willfully knowingly and recklessly transmitting HIV and other STIs. This issue was an item on the agenda of the Jamaica Parliamentarian Sensitization Forum in February 2019. The arguments presented by Jamaica Network of Seropositives supported by findings of behavioral research of LANCET, UNAIDS and others, led to a recommendation for Jamaica to reconsider its position. The reasons include the following negative effects of the proposed law:
In addition, the Sexual Offenses Act (Section 22) in Jamaica and elsewhere, already deals with clear cases of knowingly and willfully transmitting harmful infections. Hence no new specific HIV law is necessary.
It is important to note that on June 20, 2019, four (4) months after the advocacy of the Jamaica Network of Seropositives to the PANCAP/Jamaica Parliamentarian Sensitization Forum, The Canadian Federal Justice Commission supported its arguments in a comprehensive report on Criminalization of HIV Non-Disclosure https://www.halco.org › news › crim...Response to Federal Justice Committee Report on Criminalization of People Living With HIV | HALCO - HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario
Resolve the stalemate on Comprehensive Sexual Education
For some time and since 2000 in particular, the CARICOM Health and Family Life Education (HFLE) Program has been used as a regional tool for public awareness for in and out of school youth on matters relating to sex and healthy lifestyles. There has always been cynicism about the appropriateness of its content for various ages and the widespread reticence or lack of competence of teachers and most community leaders in delivering HFLE curriculum. More recently, UNESCO in collaboration with other UN agencies and widespread engagement of stakeholders in countries around the world has produced a Model for Comprehensive Sexual Education. It is intended as an evidenced informed approach and a curriculum based process of teaching and learning about cognitive, emotional, physical and social aspects of sexuality. It is aimed at young people before they become sexually active and those most vulnerable to misinformation. CSE is also intended to be delivered by well trained teachers complemented by parents and guardians and youth friendly services. Its evidence based benefits include:
However, there is disquiet and in some instance strong objections from certain segments of the religious community on the content and intent of CSE. This is notwithstanding that CSE like the PANCAP Model Anti-discrimination Legislation offers a template that makes provision for modifications by countries based on their cultural norms, religious belifs and adherence to findings of biomedical and behavioral research.
Here is where the representational and oversight roles of parliamentarians become important. There is consensus that public education is an essential function of prevention. Therefore, among the actions that the parliamentary system can pioneer is convening national multi sectoral commissions to review the CSE curriculum to ensure that it is age appropriate. Such a Commission based on diversity can carve out principles that place emphasis on equipping young people with the knowledge, skills attitudes and values that will empower them to realize their health, well-being and dignity; inculcate greater appreciation for family relations, a better understanding of friendship, love and romantic relations, the value of tolerance, inclusion and respect and long term commitment to parenting.
The “How “ requires Parliamentarians Taking Bold steps
Parliamentarians in the Caribbean have formidable illustrations of the value of pursuing their collective legislative, representative and oversight roles. It was the CARICOM Heads of Governments that issued the Nassau Declaration: The health of the Region is the Wealth of the Region In its salutation, CARICOM Heads stated “cognizant of the critical role of health in the economic development of our people and overawed by the prospect that our current health problems, especially HIV/AIDS, may impede such development through the devastation of our human capital” https://caricom.org/.../nassau-declaration-on-health-2001-the-health-of-the-region-is-t.
In the 2007 Port of Spain Declaration, Uniting to Fight the Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs), CARICOM Heads of Government stated that they were ‘conscious of the collective actions which have in the past fueled regional integration, the goal of which is to enhance the well-being of the citizens of our countries’ http://caricom.org/media-center/communications/statements-from-caricom-meetings/declaration-of-port-of-spain-uniting-to-stop-the-epidemic-of-chronic-ncds
While the Nassau Declaration offered a template for action based on two pillars - the Caribbean Cooperation in Health and the Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV/AIDS, the Port of Spain Declaration triggered the UN High Level Meeting on NCDs that escalated into an international movement for health and wellness. At the heart of both Declarations, are implementable recommendations that depend on public education and national, regional and international solidarity. In both, the quintessential examples of functional cooperation are prominent features. And in both, there is a clear understanding that the health and well-being of societies are intricately linked to human capital development
GOFAD is pleased to post this special blog by Ms. Myrna Bernard, one of its Advisors. The piece was submitted as a comment on the June 6 blog, "CARICOM HRD Strategy as Investing in Human Capital". The Strategy was endorsed at the 38th Conference of Heads of Government Meeting in Grenada in July 2017. A CARICOM Commission on HRD was established in March 2018 to shape the Regional Educational and Human Resource Development Strategy. This blog will hopefully keep the issues of Human Capital Development alive. Its targets are aligned with the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goal #4 "Quality Education" and are compatible with those of the World Bank Human Capital Project (See GOFAD Blog: "Placing Human Capital at the Center of the Sustainable Development Goals" May 9, 2019). Ms. Bernard was until recently Director in Directorate of Human and Social Development at CARICOM Secretariat and one of the architects of CARICOM HRD Strategy. The Strategy may be viewed via this link 2 HRD Strategy (2.96 MB)
The GOFAD blog of June 6, 2019 provided a useful overview of the main purpose and elements of the CARICOM HRD 2030 Strategy, and also highlighted antecedent efforts by the Caribbean Community to work together on streamlining efforts for cooperation in Human Capital/ Human Resource Development. This contribution highlights some areas which are already the specific focus of preliminary implementation efforts and which provide useful tools for co-ordination and successful implementation at both regional and national levels.
The Vision of the HRD 2030 Strategy, ‘Unlocking Human Potential’ recognizes the need for deliberate action in several spheres and at several levels, to ensure that Caribbean citizens, especially children and youth, but also inclusive of older adults, are provided opportunities for development of the skills and attitudes needed for success in their personal as well as professional lives. This is of specific importance in the current environment, given the rapid changes in skill sets needed to take advantage of opportunities in a world now driven by technological change and resultant changes in requirements for success. These changes have resulted, for example, in a reordering of the importance of crucial skills for success in both personal and working life. The World Economic Forum (WEF) hierarchy of 10 most important skills and competencies needed in employment by 2020, and cited in the HRD Strategy, lists complex problem solving as #1 followed by critical thinking; creativity; people management; coordinating with others; emotional intelligence; judgement and decision making; service orientation; and cognitive flexibility. If the Caribbean is to become globally competitive, its systems for HRD must take cognizance of trends such as these.
For each of the Strategic Priorities outlined in the HRD 2030 Strategy, viz. Access and Participation, Equity, Quality and Relevance, important strategies have been targeted for each level of education. Member States, through the Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) have agreed on specific strategies for priority attention at the regional level. A close look at projections such as those of the WEF will certainly call into question, whether the current systems for policy development and management of the education systems in the Region are suitably oriented and equipped in this regard. It is for this reason, that the Strategy pays close attention, not only to outlining actions directly linked to the Strategic Priorities, but also pays focused specific attention to what is referred to in the Strategy as ‘Enablers’. The focus on enablers highlights the importance of concomitant effort at streamlining HRD Sector planning, management and delivery. This no doubt aims to avoid the negative consequences of the proverbial ‘pouring of new wine into old wineskins’.
As the Strategy is implemented across the Region, it is important to recognize and address the seeming ‘disruptions’ which will result at all levels. Systems which have hitherto been merely tinkered with to accommodate previous reform efforts will need to be fundamentally reoriented to shape the citizens and workers of the future. These changes will require specific attention, orientation and capacity building at several levels/tiers, including in particular, central policy making and management systems; education institutions at all levels, and in particular those charged with the preparation of educators; students and parents; local communities and the society as a whole.
At the level of the schools and other institutions of learning, the major requirement is for a switch from traditional practices, several of which still focus in large part, for example, on traditional media, acquisition of knowledge, individual achievement, competence in large part limited to the mental, to addressing development of competencies required for successful participation in the socio-digital world. Important shifts in emphasis include the expert use of digital media; multi-tasking; knowledge creation, including through collaborative effort; emotional intelligence and critical thinking. These issues have important implications for the assigning of value to specific competencies and for assessing and rewarding our students at all levels. This calls to mind pertinent words of caution I read some while ago, with regard to not valuing what we can easily measure, but ensuring that we measure what we truly value.
The Implementation Plan for the HRD2030 Strategy, developed in collaboration with Member States, institutions and other partners to address the HRD 2030 Strategy recognizes the importance of reorientation at several levels of the system in order to enable and drive the change required. Work has already begun in important areas to facilitate regional and national action. In this regard, Technical Working Groups (TWGs) established by the CARICOM Secretariat worked alongside the Strategy Development process to focus on design and development of specific educational policies, systems and models to accompany the implementation of the Strategy. The Groups focused on Early Childhood Development, External Quality Assurance, Open and Distance Learning, Teaching Innovations and Educational Leadership and Tertiary Education. The TWGs have produced Reports in the following areas for the consideration of COHSOD.
CARICOM HRD 2030 Strategy has highlighted the importance of adopting new school models which play a crucial role fostering important 21st Century skills. The following link relates to a recent NBC NEWS article entitled ‘Wobbly Chairs and rolling Desks: Schools are rethinking classroom design to encourage creativity. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/.../wobbly-chairs-rolling-desks-schools-are-rethinking...
Successful Implementation of the CARICOM HRD 2030 Strategy is crucial to the empowerment of Caribbean Citizens at all levels to grasp opportunities for their own empowerment, and for the unleashing of the potential of the region to compete in the global arena.
27 June, 2019
Building Blocks for Parliamentarians handling their Roles as Advocates for Human Rights, Equality and Justice.Read Now
This blog is the third in the series of Equality and Justice for All. It was necessary to do a "double -take" after realizing that it was necessary to set the scene more concretely. The role of parliamentarians will therefore be tackled in two instalments. This week's focus is on What are the building blocks required by Parliamentarians to undertake their roles as Advocates? Next week's will focus on How?
In an era where 192 Countries, including all Caribbean Community Member States have committed to achieving the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Parliaments as one of the key state institutions have critical roles to play. As the democratically elected representatives of the people, parliaments have the honorable task to ensure government by the people and for the people. Through their key legislation, representation and oversight functions, parliamentarians can actively engage in the development and implementation of laws, policies and practices that promote democracy and good governance. In this way they create the enabling environment for human capital development.
National , regional and international parliamentary groupings have been established to promote a variety of causes. Most prominent among these are Human rights, Equality and Justice. A sample of these groupings and their activities include:
In addition, a series of regional parliamentary groups have been pursuing a common set of goals to advance human rights-based population and development policies and programmes, including sexual and reproductive health and gender equality. They include:
The Inter-American Parliamentary Group on Population and Development (IAPG). This network includes Canada and the US, as countries that continue to strengthen their commitment to advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights for their own people, and that have a special relationship to Latin America and the Caribbean as developing partners.
The Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development (AFPPD). This group specifically references the 2030 SDGs and the principle of 'leaving no one behind'.
The European Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development (EPF). This Forum brings together Parliamentarians committed to protecting the sexual and reproductive health and rights of the world’s most vulnerable.
The African Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development (APF). This Forum strives to tackle issues regarding sexual and reproductive health and rights and to pave the way for a brighter future for Africa’s women and girls, where every individual has access to the healthcare, education, and the tools they need to take control of their own bodies and lives.
The causes identified with the international and regional parliamentary fora are the same as those identified with the aims of the Judiciary and Faith leaders in the Caribbean (see GOFAD Blogs June 14 and June 21, 2019). They are highlighted in Project Equality used in the sensitization sessions at the 2019 Annual Caribbean Judicial Conference and the PANCAP Justice for All Roadmap endorsed by Caribbean Faith Leaders in their 2017 Declaration and used to sensitize religious leaders on issues related to reducing stigma and discrimination.
In the case of parliamentarians, I refer to the situation I know best. It is PANCAP's sensitization sessions that revolve around the principles of Justice for All, but focus specifically on the implementation of the PANCAP Model Policy Anti-stigma and Discrimination legislation. This Model legislation approved by the Legal Advisory Committee, comprising the Attorneys General of CARICOM in 2012, has yet to be implemented in any CARICOM Country. Yet CARICOM Member States have ratified the principles of human rights, justice and equality enunciated in the Inter American Parliamentary Forum and the 2018 Commonwealth Conference.
The prospects for an accelerated response from Caribbean parliamentarians within the scope of the 2030 SDGs era, are mixed. Engagements under the PANCAP Justice for All programme have stimulated some movement starting with a Regional consultation of approximately 60 parliamentarians in May 2017 in Jamaica. Since then, there have been six national parliamentarian sensitization fora in Barbados, Belize, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago and four regional multi-stakeholder consultations. While the regional parliamentary consultations led to broad agreements for actions in-line with the legislative, representational and oversight roles of parliamentarians, the country specific sessions addressed policies for overcoming the challenges with reference to removing barriers to AIDS related stigma and discrimination and the multi-stakeholder engagements among parliamentarians, faith leaders, civil society representatives and key populations provided opportunities for reconciling differences in perspectives and fostering alliances toward the goals of ending the AIDS epidemic. Consequently, the trends have been toward positive outcomes based on providing technical assistance to parliamentarians to identify challenges, gaps and opportunities for enhancing their legislative, representational and oversight roles. These include enhancing knowledge of parliamentarians about the following:
TEST, TREAT and DEFEAT based on the UNAIDS scientific 90-90-90 targets which predicts that AIDS can be ended by 2030: if by 2020, 90 percent of people living with HIV are tested; if 90% of those tested are on treatment; and if 90% of those on treatment attain viral loads in the blood low enough as not to transmit the disease.
Elements of the PANCAP Model Policy Legislation: A 2018 survey revealed that only 25 percent of a random sample of regional parliamentarians were aware of its existence. Hence widespread distribution to all parliamentarians in the six target countries is expected to increase awareness and thereby help to expedite its implementation.
Specific activities related to Primary Parliamentary Roles: Based on legal assessments undertaken for each country several recommendations have emerged about what type of policies may be adopted and implemented by parliamentarians. Some examples provide a range of possibilities that will contribute toward ending AIDS:
PANCAP continues to engage and support parliamentarians through technical assistance to sustain their sensitization to critical issues; the organisational arrangements such as webinars, sharing information through its knowledge of health programmes and utilizing a variety of social media tools to increase awareness, share best practices and foster greater participation in activities aimed at supporting human rights and dignity for all.
We have hereby set the context for examining how parliamentarians are handling their roles as advocates for human rights, equality and justice, prerequisites for human capital development.
Since its inception in 2001, the Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV/AIDS (PANCAP) has engaged Faith Leaders in its accelerated approach to prevention, treatment, care and support for people infected and affected with HIV. PANCAP has been conscious of the important work of religious groups in pastoral care and guidance and the widespread respect and impact that religious leaders command from their varying communities. Since its Champion for Change Conference in St Kitts/Nevis in 2004 and the follow up regional consultation of religious leaders in 2005 in Guyana, PANCAP has convened fifteen (15) national and four (4) other regional consultations involving Faith Leaders under the auspices of its Justice for All (JFA) program initiated in 2013. These activities have resulted in a JFA Roadmap, as a living document, with fifteen (15) actionable recommendations around the following five (5) principles:
♣ Enhancing family life and focusing on those in need.
♣ Increasing access to treatment and affordable medicines.
♣ Reducing gender inequality including violence against women and girls.
♣ Promoting prevention with special reference to sexual and reproductive health and rights including age appropriate sexual education.
♣ Implementing legislative reforms for modifying AIDS-related stigma and discrimination.
Among the most significant outcomes from the JFA process has been the Caribbean Faith Leaders Declaration, resulting from the Port of Spain consultation (February 1-2 2017) with ten (10) actionable recommendations. The most pertinent include:
While Project Equality developed by the Caribbean Judiciary (Global Frontier Blog June 14) is based on evidence produced by socio-legal concepts of equality and non-discrimination, Justice for All is predicated on the scientific 90-90-90 targets developed by UNAIDS in 2016, and on eliminating stigma and discrimination as fundamental to human rights. In the first instance, the biomedical-scientific conclusion is that AIDS can be ended by 2030, if by 2020, 90 percent of people living with AIDS are tested and know their status; 90 percent of those tested are on treatment; and 90 percent of those on treatment have the virus in their blood low enough as not to transmit the disease. Secondly, the results of behavioral studies illustrate that the persistence of stigma and discrimination is a major barrier to achieving the 90-90-90 targets.
In addition to the consultations, Faith Leaders across the Caribbean have undertaken a series of studies to inform actions intent on responding to the both scientific and behavioral tendencies required to end AIDS.
In Jamaica, a 2017 Mapping exercise by the Jamaica Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches had been undertaken to determine the nature of the response to HIV among churches and other religious groups. The exercise, provides a model for other countries and has led to several recommendations including:
In Barbados, a 2006 survey on awareness of pastors and youth leaders (including Sunday School teachers) in the Evangelical denomination showed that the attitudes and practices to sex and sexuality of church goers vary only slightly from the general population. The conclusions, all still relevant , pointed to a series of suggested actions to be considered by religious leaders:
In October 2017, The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and Anglicans for Decriminalization hosted a two-day conference in Jamaica examining the role of the Church in anti-sodomy laws across the Commonwealth. A book, titled Intimate Conviction was published as a report from this engagement that brought together activists, church officials, and politicians from around the world. One of the main features of this volume is a biblical survey by Dr. John Holder, former Anglican Archbishop of the West Indies. It illustrates that ‘homosexuality’ is addressed only five times in the Bible and they provide the context and driving force of its interpretation. In all cases it is treated as ‘nontraditional sexual encounters’ that are not condemned. Hence, the conviction of the writers of the Bible is that there is space in God’s relationship for the non-traditional. Dr Holder’s conclusion is that “our journey through the Bible does not provide us with any overwhelming rejection of homosexuality. Given the varied contexts within which the practice is rejected, it is difficult to treat these as providing any universal condemnation” .
In 2013 Sir George Alleyne and Professor Rose-Marie Belle Antione edited HIV and Human Rights: Legal and Policy Perspectives on HIV in the Caribbean, that grappled with answers to the outstanding issues of human rights. Their conclusions were the outcome of a pathbreaking symposium of legal, public health and civil society practitioners. They illustrated that HIV attracts a wide variety of human rights abuses and the social and legal issues faced by protagonists in the HIV challenge and viewpoints of policy makers. They recommended that these contending views could lead to new and more rights sensitive laws, but required that consideration must be given to societal prejudices that militate against transformational change.
Looking to the Future
What has emerged is that faith leaders and FBOs are by no means a homogeneous group. There are many contending ideas, different responses, levels of understanding and manifest convictions especially around the issues of abolishing discriminatory laws. As a result, efforts within the PANCAP JFA programme have attempted to foster an aura of respectful dialogue on the essence of human rights among factions within the national religious organizations and between religious leaders and other stakeholders. PANCAP Forums bring together various combinations of stakeholders — religious leaders, key 'LGBTI' populations, youth, and parliamentarians. These have mainly achieved the objective of reducing tensions and challenges that impede progress to end the AIDS epidemic. A joint forum between religions leaders and key populations in Trinidad and Tobago (April 2018) led Faith leaders to identify priority areas for action and issues that require clarification. Since that time, PANCAP has been involved in clarifying terms in common usage, updating the Justice for All Roadmap and examining the proposals for rolling out Comprehensive Sexual Education in accordance with the concerns of faith leaders and in line with CARICOM’s Health and Family Life Education.
Another joint forum between Faith Leaders and Key LGBTI populations in February 2017, agreed that Faith Leaders should “create spaces of hospitality” and welcome “the other in their otherness” while making efforts to reach out to the marginalized. At the same time, key populations are required to show appreciation for differences among religious leaders and denominations and engage in respectful dialogue. In short, the PANCAP JFA programme has evolved with due regard for the differences within the religious communities and in recognition of their vital role in reducing stigma and discrimination.
Indications are that litigation in the courts based on the principle of equality for all is most likely to rule that criminalizing same sex relations between consenting adults is unconstitutional. This has already been the case in Belize, and Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean, and increasingly in Africa and recently, India. The Judicial process may yet act as a catalyst for either accelerating factionalism among religious denominations or reconciling these differences through the principles of Justice for All. Can Parliamentarians contribute to unlocking the barriers to stigma and discrimination? This is a question that will be tackled next.
Securing Equality for All in the Administration of Justice: Another Twist to Human Capital DevelopmentRead Now
This series of blogs over the next three (3) weeks will focus on some fundamental underpinnings of Human Capital Development. It commences this week with the judicial factors, to be followed by the religious and the parliamentary, respectively. This series is inspired by the work of the Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean (PANCAP), under the umbrella of the Caribbean Community and its Justice for All (JFA) Roadmap: https://pancap.org/pancap-documents/pancap-justice-for-all-roadmap-revised-2018-12-11/. The JFA programme engages a variety of stakeholders toward the goal of reducing stigma and discrimination, that are major barriers to ending AIDS within the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #3, "Good Health and Wellbeing" while advocating for achieving the Targets of SDG # 16, " Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions".
The Judicial Education Institute of Trinidad and Tobago (JEITT) together with the Faculty of Law, St Augustine; Institute of Gender and Development Studies (IGDS), UWI St Augustine; The UWI Rights Advocacy Project (URAP); and the Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV/AIDS (PANCAP) must be congratulated for initiating the Judicial Dialogue on Securing Equality for All in the Administration of Justice, in 2017. The theme is also the title of a book edited by Janeille Zorina Matthews, a multidisiplinary criminal justice scholar and Joel Amoah, a researcher and activist on human rights and legal pluralism. Contributions to this volume are by highly regarded lecturers, researchers, advocates, legal practitioners and the social scientists. The initial dialogue has been converted into an Annual Judicial Conference which in May 2019, brought together approximately 120 Judges and magistrates from the Caribbean in St Kitts/Nevis. In this case, the focus was on Project Equality which in essence, demonstrates how the legal environment is important to human capital development. It is a sensitization process for regional judges, judicial masters and magistrates updated by evidence from socio-legal research with a view to:
Legal concepts of equality and non-discrimination. These hinge on the principle that “all humans are born equal in dignity and rights” (Article I of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948). Hon Justice Jamadar, a contributor to this volume and soon to be sworn in as Justice of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) presents a unique interpretation of the meaning of “being” in the Declaration. It is interpreted to mean 'life itself' to include rivers, forests, oceans, flora, fauna and the earth itself. It is the consequence of the larger vision that is truly a recognition of social, cultural, and environmental consciousness that leads spontaneously and responsibly to respect and regard equality for all in the broadest sense.
Bridging the gap in trust and fairness. Research shows that equal treatment is reflected in the structures, systems and attitudes in which individuals and communities engage. They are essential to peace and security. Hence Project Equality focuses on the historically marginalized, alienated and vulnerable groups and communities in society. Among the reasons for this are three pertinent tendencies.. First, the distrust of the state relates to a deep rooted colonial past of policing whereby 'the policed' are treated as subjects rather than citizens. Second the practice of punishing vulnerability is gradually being reviewed. Examples are the dramatic reduction in criminalization of ganga use in Jamaica, the current discussions about criminalization of HIV transmission and the recent rulings that criminalization of consensual sex between adults is a violation of the Constitutions of Belize and Trinidad and Tobago. Third, the privileging of Christianity that may result in religious dogma unconsciously influencing law making or may be disproportionately influencing the court room. Several judicial decisions (Mc Farlane vs Relate 2010) conclude that promoting the law for the protection of a position held purely on religious grounds cannot be justified. The intent must be on ensuring that the needs of the most vulnerable are met and a resolve “to leave no one behind”.
Removing impediments to accessing justice. A series of reforms in the administration of justice refer to the key tenet of the rule of law and procedural fairness. They stress the principle that a model code of judicial conduct ensures that persons must be able "to get to the court room door"; must not be subject to undue impediments to having their cases heard; and must not suffer any form of vulnerability, disadvantage and social exclusion. A good illustration is the ruling of the Jamaica Appeals Court in Court of Appeal vs Hines and King (1971), on the right of a Rastafarian to begin his oath with "I swear by Almighty God, King Rastafari". This according to the ruling is "consistent with his professed belief of the sect to which he belongs". Similar groups have benefited from rulings supporting their rights to access. In 2007, Justice Bereaux underscored the importance of equal access by ordering that provision be made for facilities for people with disabilities to have access to the public entrance of the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. The Jamaica Judicial code (revised 2014) states that " it is part of the judge's role to ensure proper accommodation is made for people who experience certain challenges, might have difficulties or be at a disadvantage". More recently, CCJ rulings in McEwan vs Attorney General Guyana (2018) also supported trans persons getting into the court room with what was otherwise considered 'inappropriate dress'.
Recommendation to improve access to justice and secure equality before the law for vulnerable groups. The book is replete with recommendations drawn from various countries, highlighted in the sensitization sessions at the 2019 Judicial Conference. Among them are the following codes of conduct for judges:
How these legal codes and principles for reducing stigma and discrimination match the outcomes of discussions among faith leaders and parliamentarians will follow.
Janielle Zorina Matthews and Jewel Amoah eds, Securing Equality for All in the Administration of Justice : Proceedings of the Caribbean Judicial Dialogue , Faculty of Law, UWI, Mona , Jamaica : Pear Tree Press, 2019
During the Annual Judicial Conference in St Kitts in the week of May 26, 2019, I met with Justice Mario Michel of the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal and reminisced about his tenure as Chair of the CARICOM Council of Human and Social Development in 2000 while he was Minister of Education and Culture, St Lucia. We recalled the daring attempt to pioneer an integrated approach to human development for CARICOM under the theme ”Investing in Human Capital with equity". That discussion stimulated this blog and is a tribute to Justice Michel's creative leadership. It is heartening to note that the CARICOM Secretariat and its partners have revived this quest through the Human Resource Development Strategy (2018).
The Fourth Meeting of the Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) held in Georgetown, Guyana on 4 October, 2000, deliberated on an initiative for formulating an integrated model of social policy under the theme, "Investing in Human Capital with Equity" The diagram shows, the programme areas of the Directorate of Human and Social Development deemed to be central to Human Capital Development (HCD). The logic for the integrated HCD model was predicated on the assumption of Education and Health as core areas; Culture and Labour/workforce as overlapping; gender and youth as complementary; and Sport, crime and security as intervening. The concept was to project these social policy aspects of functional cooperation in a multidimensional, measurable approach to HCD. The vision was to represent the integrated implementation of these functional areas as vital to the viability of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME). One practical outcome of the HCD initiative was streamlining the annual work programme of the Directorate of Human and Social Development. Whereas in 2000, there were 54 strategic outcomes among eight programme areas, by 2004, the realignment according to the inter-sectoral matrix -planning approach adopted, resulted in 12 strategic outputs.
It is important to note that there continued to be a search for a methodology to operationalize the HCD model. The exercise was taking place at a time when CARICOM and other regions were steeped in the follow up to 1995 World Summit on Social Development, (WSSD) in Copenhagen, the largest gathering of Heads of States and governments up to that time, that resolved to put people at the centre of development. The WSSD was the precursor to the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Since the eight (8) MDGs established targets that overlapped with the eight (8) CARICOM HCDs, the latter concept while retained and advocated over the next 5 years, was never fully operationalized. It was superseded by the MDGs to which all CARICOM States became committed . https://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/news.shtml
At the 32nd CARICOM COHSOD in May, 2018 the Human Capital Development Initiative was revived. The recommendations of the Commission on Human Resource Development (HRD) were accepted under the theme, 'Positioning Human Resource as Central to Caribbean Resilience and Development’. It established strategic priorities for improving access, relevance, equity and quality. It is intended to be a multi-sectoral-people-centered approach to development, in which human development is at the core of sustainable development. Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, CARICOM Secretary General aptly puts it:
By mainstreaming HRD, it becomes possible to realize goals related not only to the areas of human and social development, but critically, to our economic development. The enhancement of our human capital is fundamental to the success of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME)".
The CARICOM HRD Strategy converges with the elements of the World Bank's Human Capital Project. It addresses deficiencies at all levels in the education system aimed at ensuring that people of the Region are adequately equipped with 21st century skills and competencies. It is aligned to the CARICOM Strategic Plan aimed at social, economic, technological and environmental resilience. Its elements also relate to targets of the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #4, which promotes “inclusive and equitable quality education and promotes lifelong learning opportunities for all” and SDG # 8 that promotes “sustained inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.
These are in fact the essence of the lessons learned from the World Bank HCP that were the focus of the GOFAD Blog (May 31, 2019) Myrna Bernard , CARICOM Director of Human and Social Development , who was a member of the Commission on HRD (2018) and one of the architects of the HCD (2000) provides a useful summary: https://youtu.be/8SOeoQJbiE8
The CARICOM HRD Initiative, places emphasis also on early childhood development interventions championed by Guyana's First Lady, Sandra Granger that promote nurturing care—health, nutrition, responsive caregiving, security and safety, and early learning. It refers to empirical evidence showing that early childhood programmes may cost as little as 50 cents per child per year, when combined with existing services such as health. And it is supported by the science and economics that are clearly on the side of investing in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life. The cost of not doing so is higher. Children fall behind long before they set foot in school. [Lancet’s Series, Advancing Early Childhood Development: from Science to Scale]. The HRD initiative is concerned that in the CARICOM region there is less public provisioning for early childhood education, especially for the 0-2 year age group, as opposed to the pre-school years. The uneven funding distribution across sectors is striking; expenditure on pre-primary as share of government expenditure on education is only 2.9% compared to primary at 34.9% and 40.3% for secondary education. Research shows that a child’s brain develops faster in the first 2-3 years than at any other time in life. These are the same attributes that are reflected in the Human Capital Project (see GOFAD blog May 10, 2019. ) https://globalonefrontier.org
Among the other elements of human capital which CARICOM's HRD actively relates to, is
the creation of cultural entrepreneurs for which it has established through CDB, a Creative Industries Innovation Fund (CIIF) facility capitalized at US$2.9M, intended to be a multi-donor fund to encourage innovation, job creation and sustainable capacity-building of the sector.
In addition, the CARICOM HRD is complemented by a regional accreditation mechanism for Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ) and the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) coordinated by Caribbean Association of National Training Agencies (CANTA), designed as an integral part of the common qualification framework, preparing manpower for development across CARICOM. So far, seven CARICOM countries have fulfilled the stringent technical and other competency criteria associated with specific occupations: Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, St. Lucia, Grenada, Guyana and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
The Caribbean Community Secretariat has over time pioneered several programmes of great significance. Most of these are classic examples of how small states can perform with distinction by pooling resources. Others like the human capital initiative and the related human resource development strategy are worthy tools that can transform the Region. The problem remains: moving from concept to reality which in most times is beyond the reach of the technical officers in the CARICOM Secretariat. Solving the implementation deficit is a matter of governance and leadership of member states and of political will at the regional level.
Continuing the Discussion on Human Capital and Sustainable Development and the evolving lessons about Human DevelopmentRead Now
Some interesting issues were raised in reaction to the May 10, 2019 Blog, “Human Capital and Sustainable Development”. Among them were those requiring that attention be paid to options ( among others) that are:
These are all probing concerns that make adequate responses, challenging
Responding to Institution-centric thoughts and practices
Over the many years, the world has been galvanized around targets set by key international institutions. Notwithstanding their flaws, the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 2000-2015 and its successor, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2015-2030 have established targets around which countries have measured progress and criteria for funding international causes. The Global Fund for AIDS, Malaria and TB (GFATM) is a very important example of using a standard metric, level of economic status and burden of disease to direct international assistance to check the spread of these diseases. The UNDP-led Human Development Index (HDI) in the 1990s created a useful basis for combining the traditional GDP measure of development with other social indicators such as human rights, governance, educational attainment, and health outcomes that ranked the human development profiles of countries. Among the 58 countries in the very high HDI category led by Norway , Switzerland, Australia and Ireland in that order are the Bahamas at 54 and Barbados at 58. These institutional-centric metrics have a tendency galvanized performance enhancing measures among countries in the UN system around common goals and targets.
Rectifying Sociological gaps
The GOFAD blog (May 24, 2019) reviewing Thaler and Sustein’s book, Nudge provides an apt illustration of how interventions through behavioral research can fill ‘the sociology gap’ in the institutional-centered metrics. The approach is deemed to help people, government agencies, companies and charities to make better decisions. These decisions are wide ranging: from choosing a credit card, to reducing harmful pollution, avoiding fatty foods, and making long term plans that affect human development. At the same time, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for example, were created and adopted by United Nations through an extensive process of technical and civil society focus group sessions. They provided an expansive blueprint on what countries need to do to reduce poverty and hunger, education and gender inequalities; enhance health and well-being and access to clean water and sanitation; accelerate responses to achieve affordable and clean energy and pave the way for decent work and economic growth and the prospects for peace, security, social justice and global social justice.
The lessons from Investments in Human Capital
The Human Capital Project being promoted by the World Bank Group provides a useful metric that helps to standardize links between human and economic development. It nurtures a whole of Government approach that revolves around three principles: (i) sustaining efforts across the political cycles; (ii) coordinating across government (agencies); and (iii) designing policies and programmes that use and expand the evidence base. The results illustrate that “while adopting any one of these strategies help build human capital, countries that have implemented all three in tandem are often among those that have made major strides in improving human capital outcomes".
The Report from the Human Capital Project series No 4 (April 2019) provides concrete evidence of the lessons learned.
Singapore, for example, created a world class education system with some of the highest learning outcomes. Whereas in 1950, an adult averaged 2.1 years of formal schooling, by 2010 this rose to 10.6 years as a result of an educational policy that incorporated private and public schools into a unified national education system, with direct state funding and generous grants-in-aid. By 1974, Singapore through a government driven investment in a learning economy, achieved universal primary education. By 1990, there was a 44 percent enrollment in secondary education, and a robust vocational training sector which led to a consolidation of the training centers into an Institute of Technical Education (ITE). At the university level, employers were engaged in curriculum and course design to ensure the response of graduates to market needs.
In Peru, a long term vision to reduce stunting of children paid great dividends. It reduced the chronic rate of malnutrition in children from 28% to 13% between 2005 and 2016. Its policy stressed that malnutrition is wider than just food distribution and includes water, sanitation, access to health services, education and empowerment of women in poor remote areas and rural communities. These combined are critical components of reducing stunting, but have been enhanced by involving municipal governments in the administration of the programme with the Ministry of Economics and Finance monitoring and evaluating the process through a results-based approach.
Other examples given in the April issue of Human Capital include Ireland and the Republic of Korea.
In Ireland, investment in human capital concentrated on linking jobs and skills to transform a mainly agrarian economy in the 1970s into a leader in the new global frontier of electronics and information by 2000. Its Expert Group for Future Skills Needs, established in 1997, was responsible for linking educational outcomes with needs of various industries and sectors, bench marked against international standards.
At the same time lessons from the Republic of Korea show that implementing all three Human Capital strategies can lead to dramatic transformations. This is illustrated in the implementation of sustained investments in health and education complemented by sound economic policies and paying attention to population growth (the demographic dividend). It led to a spectacular 6.7% average annual growth over a forty year period.
There is however much more to the Human Capital Project that needs to be further explored. There is no better time to call on local and international governments, as well as the private sector to direct more investment into the long term and sustainable development of individuals. This must take into consideration both their capabilities (skills, knowledge and behaviours) and their capacities (self-leadership, confidence, motivation, resilience and mindset). But herein lies a compounding issue that no metric of human development can adequately explain. It is the effect of culture on the consciousness about life and social relations in both economic and political activities in a society. It includes the intangibles like values, social consciousness and morality. It is difficult to build a culture in isolation of social reality. Culture has its own particularity and will evolve with economic and political practices. These in turn all effect how we interpret the essence of human development.
This is essentially a review of a fascinatingly engaging book by Professor Richard Thaler (University of Chicago), 2017 Nobel prize in Economics and Professor Cass Sunstein (Harvard University). It is entitled Nudge: Improving Decisions About Heath, Wealth, and Happiness. The major premise of the book is that most human beings do not make decisions in the way that is often characterized in elementary economic text books. This premise is supported by a wealth of evidence that provides a wide array of suggestions about how individuals, policy makers, governments, the private sector and civil society can make better choices that benefit society as a whole. It has been aptly described as a manifesto to help people, government agencies, companies and charities make better decisions.
The methodology used to analyze how the environmental conditions often influence choices fall under the rubric of Behavioral Economics, a relatively new area of research combining economics and psychology. This innovative approach to documenting human behavior demonstrates that the apparently 'free choices' people make are affected by the way 'options' are presented to them.
This book is indeed relatable. It conveys difficult principles through a range of palatable examples. Among the most salient include:
Most obvious is their concern about governments playing a better role in guiding choices. As a result, they demonstrate the familiar arguments for why people should simply be left to make choices on their own, and especially for why government should stay strictly out of the way, as having little practical force. Of great significance is that "in many important areas of choice that matter, the operative question is not whether to bias people’s decisions, but in which direction".
Thaler and Sustein provide several examples of a nudge as "anything that influences our choice".
a) A successful nudge is exemplified in a 'Save for Tomorrow's program', where
firms offer employees an opportunity to join and automatically increase saving
rates whenever an employee gets a raise.
b) Nudges that make a difference through 'choice environments' lead to better
investments, more retirement savings, less obesity, more charitable giving, a
cleaner planet and improved educational system.
c) Nudges that are promoted through 'choice architecture' define the context in
which you make your choice. There are those that will influence what you
choose to eat like displays of food in a cafeteria. Others that make rules about
what you see/know or what you do not, such as doctors, employers, credit card
companies, banks and even parents. They show that by carefully designing the
choice architecture, dramatic improvements in the decisions are more likely to
be made by individuals and groups.
d) Nudges as essential ingredients of appropriate public policy steer people
toward healthier, safer, more prosperous lives while also addressing pressing
issues like environmental damage and the rising cost of health care. They take
account of the odd realities of human behavior like the deep and unthinking
tendency to conform.
"NUDGE is about choices -- how we make them and how we're led to make better ones"
There is much more to this book. The authors show that it is possible for people to make better choices and retain or even expand their freedoms. They illustrate how people go into 'auto pilot mode' by procrastinating because a decision is hard; because too many choices result in information overload; because the world has become complicated; and because the high stakes for achieving in the current environment make people tense.
This book is both amusing and elucidating. It has been described as 'a jolly economic romp but with serious lessons within'. The distinguished professors chose to label their approach as "libertarian paternalism" Herein lies a cause to ponder. Libertarian: as people retain the right to make their own choices. Paternalism: as governments, employers and those in charge continuously nudge people in the direction that they think will make them better off. The unresolved issue is whether libertarian paternalism can unify the left and the right ideologically as the authors seem to suggest or is it the tipping point in our understanding of human development.
Reference: Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sustein, Nudge Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness Revised and Expanded Edition Penguin Books , 2009 (New York Times Best Seller)
The history of measuring development is replete with models. The Standard Index, Gross Development Product (GDP) and its variant, Gross National Product (GNP)/Gross National Income (GNI) has been continuously questioned as a true measure of human development. GDP is defined as the sum of the economic activity that consists of the value of goods and services produced by the citizens inside the border of a country in a given year. GNP/GNI has the same definition but it also includes the economic activity of citizens who live outside the country’s border. The use of GDP is very popular because it is easy to track progress along a continuum. It is also politically preferable for showing achievements. Furthermore, it is assumed to be able to predict the overall progress of development. Many governments and development agencies such as the World Bank, and the IMF use GDP as a baseline to develop policies and projects.
The dissatisfaction with GDP as a measure of development led UNDP in 1990 to create the Human
Development Index (HDI). The intention was to emphasize that people and their capabilities should be the ultimate criteria for assessing the development of a country, not economic growth alone. The HDI was therefore created as an indication that national policy choices may explain how two countries with the same level of GNI per capita (GDP) can end up with different human development outcomes. As illustrated in the diagram, HDI is a summary measure of the average achievement in key dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, being knowledgeable and having a decent standard of living.
In support of the HDI, Amartya Sen, Nobel Laureate aptly describes development as creating freedom for people and removing obstacles to greater freedom. He argues that greater freedom enables people to choose their own destiny; and that obstacles to freedom, and hence to development, include poverty, lack of economic opportunities, corruption, poor governance, lack of education and lack of health. Subsequently, the UN promoted the 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with a number of targets, largely responses to Sen’s vision. What all of these goals and targets contend is that economic development is a broader concept than economic growth and that development reflects social and economic progress and requires economic growth. While they all recognize that growth is a vital and necessary condition for development, they agree that it is not a sufficient condition as it cannot guarantee development.
More recently, the World Bank has initiated a Human Capital Development Project in an attempt to identify “the sufficient condition to guarantee development”. The project has established a Human Capital Index, the first version of which was released in October 2018. This metric is intended to measure the human capital of the next generation. Hence, the main concerns are with (a) the conditions that increase the survival rates of children under 5 years, (b) the expected years of learning-adjusted school, reflecting the quality and relevance of the learning environment; and (c) the overall health environment throughout the life cycle.
The focus on Human Capital is fascinating, especially in this era of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals which will be explored more fully in another blog. But as shown in the diagram, the rates of return are maximized by investing in preschool programmes and sustained through quality of life long learning and job training. The major inputs to Human Capital Investments are improving skills, health, knowledge and resilience. And the major outcomes are productive, flexible and innovative citizens, communities, nations and regions.
The World Development Report 2019: The Changing Nature of Work supports this view by illustrating how investment in Human Capital becomes more important as the nature of work must respond to rapid changes in technology. More important is that markets in the future are projected to be demanding workers with higher levels of human capital especially advanced cognitive and socio behavioral skills with a pay difference of 25%-30% between those capable of performing analytic non-routine work and those without such skills.
The early takeaways from the exploratory studies within the Human Capital Development Project provide the basis for further dialogue on the value of focusing on Sustainable Human Development. They include:
Stiglitz Joseph, Amartya Sen, and Jean Paul Fitousi, The measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress Revisited - OFCE - Centre de recherche en économie de Sciences, December, 2009
World Development Report 2018 Learning to realize Education’s Promise, World Bank, Washington DC 2018
Tim Evans, Without Health for All we will all end up in poverty by 2030, World Bank Blog December, 2017