A historic Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed on Wednesday by the Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies (UWI), Professor Sir Hilary Beckles and a senior official of the University of Glasgow (UoG) for “reparative justice” related to the slave trade.
A release from UWI said that the MoU was signed at a ceremony held at The UWI Regional Headquarters in Kingston, Jamaica.
The document, framed as a “Reparatory Justice” initiative, acknowledges that while the University of Glasgow supported efforts to abolish the trade in enslaved Africans and to end slavery, it also “received significant financial support from people whose wealth was derived from African enslavement”. The release said that the evidence of this history of financial accrual from enslavement, particularly in the Caribbean context, was presented by a research team commissioned by the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli.
“The two universities have agreed to partner in a reparations strategy that focuses on how best to use this historical knowledge in order to fashion reparatory justice tools and research for Caribbean development. Acknowledging that universities have a duty to be at once excellent and ethical, the MoU will enable the University of Glasgow to make specific and general contributions to Caribbean problem-solving development”, the release said.
Under the terms of the MoU the two universities have agreed to set up the Glasgow-Caribbean Centre for Develop-ment Research. The Centre, through policy research, will address the legacies of slavery and colonialism, such as persistent poverty and extreme inequality in economic relations.
Over the next two decades, the release said that UoG commits to spending £20 million as part of its programme of reparative justice, including seed funding, benefactions and research grant income raised from grant-giving bodies. The Scottish university will also allocate resources to support the running of the Centre, scholarships, research, public engagement, and related initiatives. UoG and The UWI will also work together to source external funding for mutually agreed projects.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Sir Hilary said that he “was proud of the decision of the University of Glasgow to take this bold, moral, historic step in recognising the slavery aspect of its past and to rise as an advocate of “reparative justice”, and an example of 21st century university enlightenment.”