Global activism and representation

Over the period under review, several senior academics and administrators have represented the activist university on regional and international projects and committees, contributing their expertise and knowledge.

UN Invites Professor Beckles to Serve as Expert on Futures of Higher Education Project

The United Nations invited Vice-Chancellor Beckles to serve as an expert for its Futures of Higher Education Project. Led by UNESCO- IESALC, the project is intended to “generate innovative and visionary ideas about the purpose and functions of higher education.”

He was part of a five-member panel of experts that included representatives from University College London, the University of South Africa, the University of Oxford, and the University of Ghana.

The Futures of Education Global Initiative provided much of the evidentiary basis for a report published in November 2021, the aim of which was to envision the higher education landscape beyond 2030 and to shape world opinion about the 2050 horizon.

Professor John Agard Co-Chairs 2023 Global Sustainable Development Report Team

In October 2020, Professor John Agard was appointed by UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, to help draft the 2023 Global Sustainable Development Report.

The only scientist from the Caribbean region on the team, he co- chairs a group of 15 eminent scholars from around the world, representing a wide range of disciplines, backgrounds, and areas of expertise.

The report is being developed in the context of the impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic. It will be published in 2023, and will inform the high-level global review of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

The UWI’s Director of Centre For Disabilities Elected Member of UN Committee

Dr. Floyd Morris, Director of the Centre for Disability Studies at the Mona Campus, was elected to represent the interests of persons with disabilities on the global stage for four years, following his confirmation in November 2020. He currently serves as a member of the United Nations’ Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

The CRPD is the international body of experts that monitors the implementation of the rights guaranteed under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2007). Some 180 members of the UN voted for the selection of nine new members from a field of 29 candidates.

As Minister of State in the Government of Jamaica’s Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Dr. Morris led negotiations which culminated in the country being the first in the world to sign and ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2007. He currently serves as Opposition Senator, and formerly as President of the Senate of Jamaica (2013–2016).

UWI Professor Led UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to Adopt New General Recommendation

The UN International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), adopted General Recommendation 36 (GR36), which aims to prevent and combat racial profiling by law enforcement officials. The document is the result of two years of consultation, and the final drafting and adoption were led by Professor Verene Shepherd.

Racial profiling by law enforcement officials has been a regular complaint of historically marginalised groups, particularly people of African descent, and especially when they are minorities in the countries in which they live.

GR36 was adopted on the last day of the 102nd session of CERD on November 24, 2020. Its recommendations urge states and law enforcement officials to guard against the misuse of digital technology, facial recognition software, and artificial intelligence (AI), which may reproduce and reinforce already existing biases and lead to even more discriminatory practices against marginalised populations and individuals.

Dr. David Smith appointed to Science Policy Advisory Committee for Americas

The Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research (IAI) appointed Dr. David Smith to its Science Policy Advisory Committee (SPAC). Dr. Smith, who serves as Director of the Centre for Environmental Management and Coordinator of the Institute for Sustainable Development (ISD) at The UWI, was elected to the Advisory Committee for a three-year term, from 2020 to 2023. The election took place at the 28th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the IAI (CoP-28) in August 2020. A regional intergovernmental institution comprising 19 nations in the Americas, the IAI promotes scientific research and capacity building related to global change issues throughout the Americas to inform decision-makers. As a member of the SPAC, Dr. Smith will provide advice to the CoP and the IAI Directorate on how to use and design science for policy and decision- making.

National Focal Points: Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research

At the CoP-28 meeting on August 19, 2020, Jamaica was also elected as member to the Executive Council of the IAI, joining Canada, Chile, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, the United States of America and Uruguay as Council members from 2020 to 2022. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Jamaica designated The UWI Mona as a National Focal Point to the IAI for Jamaica; with Professor Michael Taylor, Dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology, and Dr. Tannecia Stephenson, Head of Physics, appointed to serve as the designated representatives from Jamaica to the IAI.