CARICOM Reparations Commission to Examine Connections Between Western Banking, Colonialism and Reparations

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The CARICOM Reparations Commission (CRC) in collaboration with the Centre for Reparation Research (CRR) and the Antigua and Barbuda Reparations Support Commission will convene a one-day symposium in Antigua and Barbuda on the topic, “Western Banking, Colonialism and Reparations.”

The symposium will take place at the Starfish Jolly Beach Hotel on Thursday, 10 October,  and will explore the historical roots of Western banks in financing and profiteering from the enslavement of Africans and their descendants in the Diaspora. The symposium will also identify the role of these banks in the support and expansion of colonial and neo-colonial rule in the Caribbean.

The Hon. Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, and Prof. Sir Hilary Beckles, Chairman of the CARICOM Reparations Commission (CRC) and Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies (UWI), will deliver keynote addresses. Other major speeches will be made by Prof. Verene Shepherd, Director of the CRR at the UWI and Mr. Hans Fassler, an influential Swiss historian.

A distinguished group of scholars, historians and reparations activists will participate as panelists. They include Dr. Peter Hudson from the University of California at Los Angeles, Dr. Kris Manjapra from Tufts University, Dr. Kathleen Monteith from the UWI, Dr. Ahmed Reid from the City University of New York, Mr. Malik Al Nassir, author and poet from the United Kingdom and Mr. Armand Zunder, head of the Suriname Reparations Commission.

The symposium will also mark the second anniversary of the launch of the CRR. Over the past two years the Centre has conducted several research and publishing projects, panel discussions, media interviews and public fora on various reparatory justice topics.

“The CARICOM Reparations Commission (CRC) is delighted to be partnering with the Centre for Reparations Research and the Antigua and Barbuda Reparations Support Commission on this critical and timely symposium which will bring together scholars and experts from around the world to explore the historical connections between Western banking and enslavement and colonialism and to examine the adverse impact on the development challenges facing the Caribbean today,” said Sir. Hilary Beckles.

Sir Hilary Beckles, Chairman of the CARICOM Reparations Commission and Vice-chancellor of the University of the West Indies

“We are honored to have PM Gaston Browne as one of our main speakers and we commend him for reaffirming his government’s commitment to reparations in his recent address to the United Nations General Assembly,” he added.

Prime Minister Browne, who is also Antigua and Barbuda’s Minister of Finance, is expected to describe the challenges to economic and political independence posed by the international finance systems and the current debt crisis in the Region. He will voice the CARICOM’s demand for “historical and contemporary justice and equity.”

 “We extend a warm welcome to this reparations gathering,” said Dorbrene O’Marde, Chairperson of the Antigua and Barbuda Reparations Support Commission. “This crucial discussion comes five years after hosting the second CARICOM Reparations Conference and we are confident that the deliberations of this symposium will inform the reparatory justice work of the CRC and the governments of CARICOM in the weeks and months ahead.”

“At the end of the symposium, we intend to issue a call to the international financing sector to take responsibility for the role it played in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and the enslavement of Africans and to engage the global banking system in a firm commitment to Caribbean development within a reparatory justice framework that rejects the exploitation of the region and promotes ethical best practices rooted in respectful mutual interest”, said Sir Hilary.

The symposium comes just weeks after the signing of an historic Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the University of Glasgow and the University of the West Indies whereby the two universities agreed to establish the Glasgow-Caribbean Centre for Development Research.

Through reparatory-oriented policy research, the Centre will address the legacies of slavery and colonialism, and over the next two decades, the University of Glasgow will commit to spending £20M as part of its programme of reparative justice, and will work with the UWI to attract external funding for mutually agreed projects that will benefit the communities of the Caribbean islands and other parts of the world affected by the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.

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