Breaking the reparations glass ceiling

The UWI, in collaboration with the University of Glasgow, broke the global reparations glass ceiling with the signing of a landmark Memorandum of Understanding in 2019, and opened a new era in the global reparations movement.

The agreement—the first of its kind for a British university—enables the University of Glasgow to formally make amends for its engagement in chattel slavery, defined by the United Nations as a Crime Against Humanity, and commit to redress. This ancient University, established in 1451, by its own published research, successfully extracted millions of pounds from the African- Caribbean slavery enterprise in order to enhance its academic prestige, fund its expansion, and sustain its overall development.

Sir Hilary successfully designed the reparations model built upon the principle of reparatory justice outlined and publicly articulated by Sir Anton's team of researchers. Together, they made provision for a 20-year commitment of a £20 million investment to assist with confronting and correcting the corrosive legacies of race-based slavery that continue to inhibit post-colonial Caribbean development.

The purpose-built Glasgow-Caribbean Centre for Development Research is a jointly managed institute that will operate in both universities, funded by the cash injection. It will select and guide reparatory research projects and initiatives intended to promote social and economic justice and growth in the Caribbean.

Describing the signing event as a “moral moment”, Sir Hilary concluded that, “It's a first small but bold step into what can be humanity's finest future. It's a ray rather than a beam of light that has already illuminated the greatest of Global-Europe's racial enslavement of Africans. It further validates seven decades of The UWI's service as a noble institution vested with a mandate to lead in cleaning up the inherited crippling colonial mess and prepare for the Caribbean Enlightenment.”

The MOU provides The UWI with a 20-year commitment of a £20 million investment placing it at the forefront of the global reparations movement. The Glasgow- Caribbean Centre for Development Research, through reparatory-oriented policy research, will address the legacies of slavery and colonialism, such as persistent poverty and extreme inequality in economic relations, chronic disease proliferation, educational inadequacies, and related inhibiting factors adversely impacting economic growth and social justice in the region.

During the first decade, the Centre will spearhead activities to address the public health crisis in the Caribbean, particularly the chronic disease pandemic, with special focus on identifying research-based solutions to reduce the burden of Type 2 Diabetes and its sequelae complications such as diabetic foot amputations.

Additionally, activities will include the search for post-plantation economy development policies that promote new economic policies and paradigms focused on economic growth and diversification, racial inclusion, and gender empowerment. Moreover, the recognition that slavery and colonialism drove deep wedges between Africa and its Caribbean family requires that the Centre prioritise the funding of strategies for project implementation to tackle the cultural divide.

Ultimately, this agreement highlights the developmental value of The UWI's reparatory justice policy nexus.

The MOU provides The UWI with a 20-year commitment of a £20 million investment placing it at the forefront of the global reparations movement.
Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies and Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Glasgow.