By Saeed Shabazz -Staff Writer-
NEW YORK (FinalCall.com) – Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines headlined an evening of dialogue with a gathering of ambassadors, politicians and activists at The Bedford Hall restaurant in Brooklyn, New York on November 22, which was sponsored by the Institute of The Black World.
Dr. Gonsalves began the dinner-time dialogue by saying it was now time to shape “our Caribbean” regional discussion around matters of “trade, coordinated production and development of one currency.” He added that there was also a need for an authentic, functional political cooperation around the issues of reparations and the damage from climate change.
Echoing the call for regional unity made by the Honorable Mininster Louis Farrakhan during his address in Jamaica in commemoration of the 19th anniversary of the Oct. 16, 1995 Million Man March, the Pan-Caribbean prime minister said: “We have to be very focused” so that the “new colonialism and imperialism” now being practiced by Western nations cannot pick us off “one-by-one.”
Min. Farrakhan told the gathering in Jamaica: “The time demands the region stands together as one mighty nation in the sun.”
The Muslim leader added that “the island in the sun,” referring to Jamaica, and her smaller sister nations, are not completely free and must unite in the face of efforts from America and Europe to control her land and her people.
They can’t pick us off if there are community decisions and community actions, Dr. Gonsalves noted. He said there was “a new regional consciousness developing” in answer to a Final Call question, adding “We are searching for modalities that will solidify our quest for unity — for the larger good.”
During his 2013 address before the United Nations General Assembly debate, Dr. Gonsalves put the international community on notice concerning the 14-nation Caribbean Community (CARICOM) intentions to pursue reparations.
He told the guests gathered in Brooklyn that the lawsuit against the United Kingdom, France and the Netherlands was going forward, however he said, “It needs to move faster.”
Dr. Gonsalves explained the lawsuit was another step in the Caribbean’s quest to address a psychic, historical, socio-economic and developmental wound that is for CARICOM, 14-nations wide and 400 years deep.
“Using my nation as an example, the genocidal oppression and suffering of St. Vincent & the Grenadines’ indigenous Callinago, the Garifuna and enchained Africans have been rightly adjudged to have been a horrendous crime against humanity.”
The awful legacy of these crimes against humanity — a legacy which exists today in our Caribbean, ought to be repaired for the developmental benefit of our Caribbean peoples and societies, Dr. Gonsalves said.
“We are preparing a formal letter that will be sent to the three countries asking for a discussion on reparations. If we do not get a response we plan to take our case before the International Court of Justice,” explained Dr. Gonsalves.
The International Court of Justice is composed of 15 judges, selected by the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council. The court is located in The Hague (Netherlands) at the Peace Palace.
The court’s role is to settle, in accordance with international law, legal disputes submitted to it by nations and to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorized UN organs and specialized agencies, according to the UN.
“The legal basis for our move to the ICJ is rooted in the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination,” Dr. Gonsalves said.
According to UN documents, the ICERD, as it is known, includes an individual complaints mechanism, effectively making it enforceable against its parties. Article 22 further allows any dispute over the application of the convention to be referred to the International Court of Justice.
Some of the attendees at the dinner were: Dr. Ron Daniels, president of IBW and his wife Dr. Mary Francis Daniels, Don Rojas, communications director, IBW, Mrs. Eloise Gonsalves, St Vincent and the Grenadines ambassador to the UN, Rhonda King, Dr. Roy Hastick, Caribbean Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dr. Mohammed Nurhussien, chairman United African Congress and Dr. Julius Garvey, grandson of the Honorable Marcus Garvey.