Professor Yash Ghai, an eminent Kenyan-Asian constitutional lawyer and former Chairman of the Kenya Constitutional Reform Commission will deliver a public lecture entitled ”The Role of the Constitution in Building An Inclusive Future” this Friday.
Yash Ghai steered the Kenyan constitutional process to successful promulgation last November, in a process widely acclaimed both as a model for modern constitutions and for its participatory nature. The lecture is to take place at the Demerara Life Conference Room this Friday at 25 at 17.30 hrs.
According to a release from the organisers, Yash Ghai is visiting Guyana accompanied by two other authorities on managing ethnicity in divided societies, Dr. Jill Cottrell and Dr. Bertie Ramcharan, at the invitation of the civic organizations sponsoring the “Facing the Future” initiative. The visit takes place from March 21-27.
The orgainsers stressed that the aim of the visit is “to provide a wide cross-section of Guyanese society with opportunities to benefit from experts who are familiar with many divided societies. The team is not being invited to document failings nor to enquire into anything. Nor is it coming to tell us what we should do. The team is here at the invitation of Guyanese people committed to creating a more inclusive future in this country”.
The “Facing The Future” initiative is concerned that the current exodus of people from Guyana will continue as long as ambitious and qualified people fail to be convinced that Guyana can provide them with a safe and prosperous future. Across three meetings involving more than fifty civic organizations over the past month, using an open space methodology, the political system was clearly identified as the root cause driving people out of the country.
During their conversations with different sectors of the society, the visiting team will hopefully identify factors which Guyana shares in common with others and those which appear to be unique to our situation.
Professor Ghai’s grandparents came from North India to Kenya as part of the waves of indentured migration within the British Empire. His father sent him to Oxford to study, and he followed this by further studies at Harvard in the USA. He has been a Fellow of the British Academy since 2005. He was the Sir Y.K. Pao Professor of Public Law at the University of Hong Kong until his retirement in 1995. Prior to that, Dr. Ghai taught and did research in law at the University of Warwick, Uppsala University in Sweden, the International Legal Center in New York, and Yale Law School. He was the Chairman of the Kenya Constitutional Review Commission.
Since 2007 he has been the head of the Constitution Advisory Support Unit of the United Nations Development Programme in Nepal and was a Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in Cambodia on Human Rights.
Professor Ghai has also advised and assisted NGOs in human rights law related work. He drafted the Asian Human Rights Charter—A People’s Charter, a project of the Asian Human Rights Commission. Professor Ghai has written several books on law in Africa, the Pacific islands, and elsewhere.
Dr. Jill Cottrell was educated at the London School of Economics and Yale University. She has lectured at the Warwick School of Law, the Univ. of Hong Kong, Ahmadu Bello Univ. Nigeria and the University of Ife in Nigeria. She has worked on constitutional projects in Sri Lanka, East Timor, Nepal, Somalia, South Africa and Iraq, and played a key role in the elaboration of the Kenya constitution. Jill Cottrell is the author of numerous articles, Conference papers and books related to constitution-making, human rights, sovereignty, and democracy
Dr. Bertie Ramcharan grew up in Windsor Forest, West Coast Demerara. He is a Barrister-at-Law of Lincolns Inn, holds LL.M and Ph.D degrees from the London School of Economics, and the Diploma in International Law of the Hague Academy of International Law. He practiced as a barrister in the London Chambers of the legendary constitutional lawyer Sir Dingle Foot QC before joining the United Nations in 1973. His service in the UN included periods as Chief Speechwriter for the UN Secretary-General, Director of the Dept. of Political Affairs, Head of the UN Commission on the former Yugoslavia. He retired from the UN in 2006 as High Commissioner of Human Rights (Ag.). Dr. Ramcharan has lectured at universities in the UK, Sweden, Geneva and the United States. He has published over 100 scholarly articles in journals across the globe and upwards of twenty books.
The organizers of “Facing The Future” are the Amerindian Peoples Association (APA), Church Women United (CWU), Commonground, Community-Based Rehabilitation – EBD, Georgetown Chamber of Commerce Inc. (GCCI), Guyana Council of Churches (GCC), Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA), Guyana Islamic Trust (GIT), Guyana Society for the Blind, Guyana Workers Union (GWU), Institute of Development Studies (IDS), Rights of Children (ROC) , Red Thread and the Vilvoorden Women’s Organization.
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