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The following statement is issued by the Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles at the Signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between The University of the West Indies and the University of Glasgow and the establishment of the Glasgow-Caribbean Centre for Development Research.
It is my honour this day to welcome everyone to this historic event. It is a single, but seminal moment in the global movement for reparatory justice and I am pleased to invite your participation.
It is a powerful, practical gesture, and significant symbolic stage in a journey that seeks fairness and fellowship for the descendants of enslaved Africans.
It is for the Caribbean the first formal reparations response to the crimes of enslavement and post-emancipation plunder committed against African people in the region and beyond.
I am proud to welcome to the Regional Headquarters of The University of the West Indies two senior officials of the University of Glasgow, Dr David Duncan, Chief Operating Officer and University Secretary, and Mr Peter Aitchison, Director of Communications and Public Affairs, both representing Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli who must, this day, be celebrated for his visionary leadership of the University of Glasgow.
The community of historians in the Caribbean, and in Scotland, have long been aware of the role played by the City of Glasgow in the development and sustainability of African enslavement in the Caribbean and elsewhere.
Likewise they have been aware of the financial support given by enslavers in the Caribbean to the ancient University of Glasgow.
But, it was Vice-Chancellor Muscatelli who launched a formal inquiry into the exact dimensions of endowments which the University received from owners and managers of slave-produced wealth.
This report provides an ethical context and empirical basis for this partnership between The University of the West Indies and the University of Glasgow which we shall launch this day with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
Vice-Chancellor Muscatelli, and his research team, led by my colleague Dr David Duncan, have responded in a principled and purposeful manner to the evidence unearthed and presented in their report.
They have not done, as many universities with a similar engagement with slave-produced wealth have done, that is to "Research and Run".
"Research and Run" has indeed become the norm for many universities in Britain, Europe and North America. Rather than stand and plan, they "researched and ran".
Not so with the University of Glasgow. It has provided for a partnership with The University of the West Indies, which is cast within a framework of reparatory justice for victims of slavery and colonialism.
Importantly, it has insisted that the partnership represents a commitment to fund the search for development solutions for the people of the Caribbean as they continue to battle with the debilitating legacies of slavery and colonialism.
Officials have accepted the principles laid out in the CARICOM Reparations Commission's Ten Point Plan that sees reparations as part of a broad development strategy for victimized communities long in need of practical and promotional support.
Neither did they seek with sanitized words to "apologize and fossilize"; the culture of indifference that has greeted for generations, the plight of victims of slavery.
It has never been morally sufficient to issue apologies and the refusal to repair; to issue words of regret and then reject any policy of repair.
“Apologize and fossilize” is here rejected in favour of “apologize and mobilize”.
Our colleagues at Glasgow have recognized that universities such as their own can never be truly excellent unless there are endemically ethical.
And, that in order to prepare for the future they must repair the past in the present.
In this regard the MoU we are about to sign will bind the mind of The University of the West Indies and the University of Glasgow.
We have agreed to jointly establish and manage an institution for collaborative research action that will mobilize historical knowledge to be galvanized to meet the development needs of the Caribbean and Africa.
This institution will be called the Glasgow-Caribbean Centre for Development Research.
Its collaborative research agenda will revolve around the broad areas and issues of public health, development economics, and cultural empowerment, and related themes and subjects.
The University of Glasgow has agreed to contribute £20 million to the Centre to fund its operations and research programmes over a period of 20 years.
The Centre will be administered by a joint board and its activities and allocations guided by the principle of reparatory justice.
Colleagues, friends, and well-wishers, we seek your support for this Reparatory Justice Initiative and Institution.
Two fine universities, rooted in a common history, have decided to come together to contribute to the repair of communities by doing what they know best—shed light where there has been, and is, darkness.
And critically, to plan the best they can, for transformation and development of this long exploited region.
About Professor Sir Hilary Beckles
Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, an Economic Historian, was installed as the 8thVice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies (The UWI) on May 30, 2015. Before assuming the office of Vice-Chancellor of The UWI, Sir Hilary was Principal and Pro Vice-Chancellor of the University’s Cave Hill Campus in Barbados for 13 years (2002-2015). Sir Hilary is a distinguished university administrator, and transformational leader in higher education. For his complete biography, visit:  http://www.uwi.edu/VCBiography.asp   
About The UWI
For over 70 years The University of the West Indies (The UWI) has provided service and leadership to the Caribbean region and wider world. The UWI has evolved from a university college of London in Jamaica with 33 medical students in 1948 to an internationally respected, regional university with near 50,000 students and four campuses: Mona in Jamaica, St. Augustine in Trinidad and Tobago, Cave Hill in Barbados, and an Open Campus. As part of its robust globalization agenda, The UWI has established partnering centres with universities in North America, Latin America, Asia, and Africa including the State University of New York (SUNY)-UWI Center for Leadership and Sustainable Development; the Canada-Caribbean Studies Institute with Brock University; the Strategic Alliance for Hemispheric Development with Universidad de los Andes (UNIANDES); the UWI-China Institute of Information Technology, the University of Lagos (UNILAG)-UWI Institute of African and Diaspora Studies and the Institute for Global African Affairs with the University of Johannesburg (UJ). The UWI offers over 800 certificate, diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science & Technology, Social Sciences and Sport. 
As the region’s premier research academy, The UWI’s foremost objective is driving the growth and development of the regional economy. Times Higher Education ranked The UWI among the top 1,258 universities in world for 2019, and the 40 best universities in its Latin America Rankings for 2018. The UWI was the only Caribbean-based university to make the prestigious lists.  For more, visit www.uwi.edu.
(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)

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