Thank you very much Comrade Chairman.
Comrade Ministers of the People’s
Chief Justice, Mr. Archibald Nedd,
Mr. Justice Singh,
Comrade Deborah Jackson,
Comrades of the executive of the American
Association of jurists,
Distinguished Comrades, Sisters and
Brothers attending this
Sisters and Brothers,
Comrades, I want to join with Comrade
Kendrick Radix, our
minister of justice, in extending a very warm and a very fraternal
all of the comrades who have some to our country for this very
We certainly appreciate very much your
presence here with us on
this occasion. We appreciate your presence here for several reasons.
Firstly, of course, because you have
chosen our country as the
site of your conference and for us that is always very important and we
that his is probably a reflection of the support that many of you have
political process which is developing in our country or indeed is an
of an openmindedness of all of the comrades who are present here.
COME SEE FOR YOURSELF
This certainly falls in line completely
with one of our main
slogans in the country, “Come see for yourself” — come to our country,
after you have seen then make a judgement on what you have seen and not
the situation in our country based on the adverse propaganda which is
the region and many parts of the world.
We are also very happy that you are here today, comrades, because as we
understand from Comrade Deborah Jackson, this conference is a run up,
preparatory conference to one that will be held by the American
Jurists next year again in St. George’s and of course we look forward
anticipation of your presence next year at that conference also.
Certainly we feel by that time we will be
more organised, we will
be better prepared, our country would have gone through more
therefore the circumstances of your visit on that occasion we certainly
will be happier.
Comrades, we are also happy that you are
here today because of
the variety of countries that are represented: Countries from the
countries from Central America and of course from North America, from
United States and Canada, and from the United Kingdom.
We feel it is extremely important for
lawyers who are engaged in
active practice in so many different parts of the world to have the
of getting together and holding discussions in an atmosphere of
in an atmosphere where very critical questions can be openly discussed,
views can be freely exchanged and where, hopefully, a consensus can
GOOD TO SEE OLD FRIENDS
I am happy, too, comrades, to welcome you
all here, because as a
former practicing lawyer myself, it is very good to see so many of my
friends, and several comrades who I have had the opportunity of working
different cases, particularly what one can, I
suppose, call human rights and political cases over the
years and the
opportunity of seeing these colleagues once again is a very good one.
And finally, comrades, we are happy to
have you in Grenada at
this time because you have come in an extremely important time for our
at a time when we celebrate what we regard in Grenada as being the most
important event to have ever occurred in the history of our country:
of March when our Revolution took place three years ago and coming here
years after that historic and glorious event is for us also an
Comrades, the theme of your conference,
“Human Rights in the 80’s,
a Caribbean perspective: is an extremely important theme for us all to
discussing at this time and for us to develop a perspective on that
relevant, which is rooted in reality, which has a degree of
what is happening in the real world, to what is happening in our region
the wider world outside.
That theme which you are going to be
discussing this morning and
tomorrow, is an extremely important one, and therefore having the
this morning of giving in very few words a view from the People’s
Government of what our own broad perspective is on this question,
from the point of view of lawyers, we are very glad to be given that
opportunity and we certainly hope that the brief remarks which we will
this morning will have some bearing on the discussions which you will
holding over the next two days.
ONLY STRUGGLE BROUGHT HUMAN RIGHTS
By far the most important point I want to
make it that human
rights have always come only after struggle.
There is nothing that I will say today
that will be more
important than that.
Nor one singly human right has ever been
won without struggle.
Notwithstanding the methodology of the
law, that laws do come
naturally, that some laws exist from birth and some rights exist from
the truth of the matter is that every single important right under the
which today are taken for granted in many countries, (and in many more
these laws and these rights still do not exist) every single one of
rights came after a struggle by the ordinary working people.
This can be seen certainly in slavery.
It was not as a result of anybody’s
kindness, or anybody’s change
of hears, not as a result of any new, sudden development, or philosophy
slavery was abolished but slavery was abolished when and only when the
struggles of the slaves themselves forced the slave masters to make a
calculation, to decide whether it was worthwhile being killed, whether
worthwhile risking on a nightly basis a new slave uprising.
Slavery only came to an end, also, when
the economic realities of
the age made it more prudent and more desirable to move to a new form
exploitation, the exploitation in history known as feudalism.
Under feudalism, comrades, the right which
the Lord of the Manor
for several years regarded as his exclusive right, was the right to
first nigh with the wives of the serfs.
ONLY STRUGGLE WIPED AWAY FEUDAL RIGHTS
That was not a right which disappeared
because one night a nice
Lord of the Manor decided it was not nice to sleep with the wife of his
That disappeared because of struggle by
the serfs to end that
particular form of oppression and indeed other forms of oppression
Take the right to wages without having to
give a share of one’s
own sweat and labour to the Lord of the Manor.
That did not end because the Lords decided
one morning that they
would no longer want to collect their ill-gotten gains.
That ended because the serfs rose up in
That ended because the new economic
reality which began to
emerge, the new reality of capitalism, made it imprudent and unwise for
relationships under feudalism to continue.
LAWS DID NOT SUDDENLY EMERGE
That is why it is no accident, comrades,
(and as lawyers you will
know this) that the law of contract, for example, the law of making an
impossible bargain, the law of entering into an agreement did not
That simple law of contract which today we
all take for granted,
and can quote millions of legal precedents around and can refer to
practices that now institutionalize the provision of that simple law
hundreds of years to emerge and the law of contract arose out of the
of life and out of real struggle by the emerging capitalists who were
time a revolutionary force and who were demanding the right of free
insisting that they wanted an easier form of exchange for the goods
were selling, insisting that the laws relating to barter were too
that they were not prepared to walk around with a wheelbarrow full of
order to obtain some gold or something else but were anxious to move to
SUBVERSIVE CAPITALIST RIGHTS
But the relationships that the emerging
capitalists in feudalist
times wanted were relationship that were subversive to the whole feudal
because if you had a right to contract, if you had a right to engage in
trade, then it meant that the principle of the divine right of the king
meant that the king was entitled to certain privileges being given to
him on a
regular basis from his lord, and the lords in turn were entitled to
similar privileges and entitlements from their serfs, then that whole
that whole relationship must collapse.
Because if the serf was free to buy what
he wanted, if the serf
was free to engage in a contract and to reach a legally enforceable
then the whole system of relationships under feudalism would collapse.
That is why the emerging capitalists of
Century used to be killed so often.
That is why the king declared that those
people were bandits and
robbers, and were open game for anybody who wanted to kill them.
That is why when this question of an
enforceable contract reached
before the ecclesiastics, of course, in the beginning they were always
rejecting those claims.
PREVAILING ECONOMIC REALITIES
What all of the says, comrades, and says
very clearly is that the
law developed around the prevailing economic realities of the age.
The law is really a system of legal
relations that have a direct
bearing and relationship to the material relations in the society.
The law, therefore, is first and foremost
an expression of the
balance of forces between the oppressor and the oppressed, between the
exploiter and the exploited.
That is what the law is first and foremost.
EXPRESSION OF THE BALANCE OF FORCES
The question of what laws got on the
statutory books is always a
question of the strength of the oppressed.
The question of what laws are enforced on
a regular basis is
always, in part, an expression of the balance of forces between
That is why the right to vote did not come
modern day slavery was formerly abolished in 1834, but in countries in
Caribbean that right only came in the Caribbean for one country and in
most of the rest in the Caribbean.
Because the right to vote, universal adult
suffrage came as a
result of concrete struggle by our working people, struggles which they
because they felt they had a right to have a say in what was going on
country and under the prevailing system of democracy the right to vote
key way to give expression to this demand for participation, to this
call of no taxation without representation.
That is also why, comrades, the right to
form trade unions did
not suddenly descend on us one morning in the 1840's, or 50's, or 60's,
only came gradually with the result of dozens of years of struggle by
not only in the Caribbean, but by workers throughout the world.
And as comrades know May Day itself,
International Workers Day,
is but an institutionalization of a day when many workers were
because of their struggles in demanding rights before the law.
That is why in the 1920's, and 30's, and
40's, workers had on a
concrete daily basis, to struggle for these rights because these rights
handed down or given gladly.
TRADE UNIONS DANGEROUS TO EXPLOITERS
The exploiting class, the ruling class
always had a very, very
clear understanding of the fact that a trade union was, and is, a
thing; that if you have trade unions, that if workers have the right to
together collectively, that is workers have the right to declare a
on behalf of themselves to meet with the employer than the employer’s
to divide the rule, the employer’s ability to put one worker against
will be substantially reduced.
The employing class always understood this
point and this why the
workers had to fight for that right.
The right to form political parties, the
right to speak at public
meetings, the right to hold demonstrations, every single one of those
only came as a result of concrete struggle.
And therefore, comrades, what I want to
say in this opening is
that law as an expression of the balance of forces between exploiter
exploited, as a reflection of the existing material economic reality in
particular country, the way in which laws are consolidated, the way in
laws that exist are checked, and the way in which new laws are brought
existence are always dependent on a number of critical questions which
FOUR KEY QUESTIONS
Firstly, which class is in power? Is it
the working class or the
representative of the working class? Or is it the ruling class?
Secondly, how strong are the opposing
forces? What is the
respective balance between exploiter and exploited in the given
is the size of the particular class? What is the level of organisation?
the level of unity prevailing? What international links and connections
These are the concrete questions which
determine the strength of
Thirdly, the prevailing economic reality:
is there recession? What
is the situation with jobs? What is the attitude of the trade unions in
particular country at the given time? Are trade unions on the retreat
of weak, or cowardly, or vacillating leadership, or are trade unions
up, or are they negotiating cut backs with the bosses, negotiating
with the bosses, or are trade unions struggling for even more rights
Fourthly: the political outlook of the
executive, or the
particular leadership in the country.
At one level, that point is the same point
as the first point,
which class is in power, but in a deeper sense there is a difference
think the difference can be illustrated if one compares let us say a
with a Reagan.
Because under a Carter in the United
States, there is some hope
for limited justice under the law and limited justice in general.
There is some hope that the rights which
women have won over
centuries of struggle might be maintained.
There is some hop that the rights which
workers have won over
centuries of struggle might be maintained.
There is some hope that the rights which
minorities have won over
centuries of struggle might be maintained.
Perhaps, what should be in question is how
these rights could be
At least certain rights could be
maintained with a Carter in
Certainly, too, in that kind of situation
there is always a much
greater possibility of peace in the world because of a particular
particular philosophical outlook.
REAGAN ROLLS BACK RIGHTS
But with a Reagan in power, comrades, what
are the prospects for
any of these things?
Is there any realistic basis for any
optimism at all that the
rights of women, that the rights of workers, that the rights of
that the possibility of maintaining peace in our time can be assured?
Is there any realistic hope where any of
this is possible given
the national chauvinist, the racist and the expansionist outlook of the
Is there any realistic hope of that, given
the reality of the
economic crisis that exists in the United States today?
What are the prospects for any expansion
of human rights in that
What are the prospects for even keeping
those human rights which have
existed over the years?
Let us look at the situation with women in
the United States.
Today, the struggle for the Equal Rights
Amendment, a struggle
which generations of women in the United States have been involved in,
struggle is facing its worse possible period.
Ronald Reagan is perhaps the first
president in modern times to
publicly oppose the Equal Rights Amendment.
Ronald Reagan has around him people like
Jesse Helms, who openly
says that women have no rights, they must go back home, return to the
become once again the kitchen mechanic.
People like Jesse Helms even go to the
extent of saying that
women do not even have the right to wear trousers and must only be seen
That is the extent to which that new
reality has begun to go down
for the women of the United States.
Today, the greater number of unemployed in
recent times now exist
in the United States, with official figures being over nine and a half
workers being out of work.
With a situation existing for the workers
of the United States
where in any context of an industrial dispute, there Is now always the
possibility that all the workers engaged in that industrial dispute
their jobs, as the air traffic controllers discovered to their cost.
REAGAN ATTACKS UNIONS
But, perhaps even worse than that Ronald
Reagan and the people
around him have moved even to the stage of beginning to decertify trade
so that even the right to form and to join trade unions and to be
those trade unions will be allowed to exist, even that right is now
removed in the United States.
Minorities and the poor are in a similar
The attitude of the Reagan Administration
to desegregation and to
business, the attitude which ensures that crimes are being committed
against the poor people in general but against blacks and other ethnics
nationals, in particular, also gives a very clear indication to the
The situation f the poor in terms of the
schools being closed,
the hospitals being closed, the old people’s homes being closed, the
taking place on food stamps, on medical care, on student subsidies, on
subsidies, etc. makes it clear that rights which previously existed and
the poor and working people of the United States had begun to take for
are being taken away under this present administration.
So that the human rights picture has begun
to undergo a slide
Far from consolidating or going forward,
the picture is that of a
And what of the question of peace and war?
With a Ronald Reagan in the White House it
would seem that war is
almost inevitable, it would seem that war is almost a certainty at some
in the future and perhaps in the immediate future.
The arms industry, which is not a defence
industry but a war
industry, is escalating again, is again being built up to massive
today in exactly the same time as schools and hospitals and old
are being closed and farmers and students subsidies and Medi-Care and
stamps are being cut, $214 billion are being spent on arms.
FUTURE OF MANKIND IN PERIL
A massive arms race is once again facing
the people of the United
States and threatening the future of mankind.
In the 1930's when Hitler and Mussolini
emerged, again the
rationale was economic, again the argument was that armaments are
order to keep out the Communist threat, and again the rationale is that
arms industry helps in providing jobs, when what they really mean, of
is that the arms industry helps with ensuring that the sagging profits
multinational corporations are once again allowed to overflow.
Comrades, with a philosophy that is
essentially fascist, with a
philosophy that believes that no people have a right to
that no people have a right to develop their own process, that no
country has a
right to operate or to exist except in conditions approved by this
States Administration, the prospects for war are real.
Professor Richard Pipes,
one of the people very
close to Ronald Reagan, is on the record as saying that the socialist
system must be made to collapse, that so far as this United States
Administration is concerned there is no room for peaceful coexistence,
these two systems cannot and will not be allowed to coexist, that one
other must go.
FEW PROSPECTS FOR PEACE
With people like that, with a philosophy
like that, with a view
that negates the existence of the socialist world, with a philosophy
negates the existence of national liberation movement in the world, a
says that the people of El Salvador do not have a right to exist, do
not have a
right to struggle to reclaim their country from oligarchy, with a
like that, comrades, what are the prospects for peace at this point in
With a philosophy that says that the
people of Namibia do not
have a right to independence and when the United Nations passes a
they did in 1978, that says that the people of Namibia must be
granted their rights of independence, must immediately e allowed to
independence, the United States stands up and votes against that and
to rewrite a mandate coming from the rest of mankind.
With a philosophy that says that whatever
is done by their client
state Israel, is acceptable, that the Palestinians have no right to
homeland, that the people of Palestine do not have a right to exist and
alone has the right to do what it wants in that part of the world, go
and bomb reactors if they wish, go into Syria and bomb the people of
the Golan Heights if they wish, go into Lebanon and commit murder on a
basis and that is justified because they are allies.
Or likewise in South Africa where millions
of black oppressed
people are daily having to face up to the terrible conditions of an
system against South Africa this is all right to Reagan because South
an ally and, there are massive U.S. investments in South Africa and
investments justify maintaining that sort of double standard.
WHOLE PEOPLE’S RIGHTS IGNORED
Comrades, here you find a philosophy which
says that the socialist
oriented countries in the world have no right to exist, that the people
Angola do not have a right to develop their own process, but must have
on them [Jonas] Savimbi,
a philosophy that says that the people of Mozambique, the people of
the people of Libya, the people of Syria, the people of Grenada do not
right to develop their own processes and if they choose to try to
a process then they will be subjected to the total barrage of
destabilisation, economic warfare and violent terrorism and the
threat of mercenary or marine invasion.
Here’s a philosophy that says that even
their socalled allies in
Europe do not have the right to develop their own countries in their
or to use their own money for what purpose they see fit such as when
countries offer to send the humanitarian assistance to war victims in
Salvador and Ronald Reagan dispatched emissaries to the EEC saying that
humanitarian assistance through the Red Cross must go to El Salvador
when the new French president is about to form his own cabinet and
his own free will that he is going to put three Communists in his
Reagan decided that the French people cannot put these people into
cabinet, that America must determine this question for them.
TRANSNATIONAL CORPORATE EXPLOITATION
Comrades, this is a philosophy that says
that the countries of
the Third World do not have any right at all to develop their economic
resources in their own way unless it is hinged to private enterprise,
is connected to the continued exploitation by the transnational
This is a philosophy that says not to the
New International Economic
Order which so many of us in the Third World are daily struggling for:
right to have fair and equal terms of trade, the right to see the
of negotiations start immediately.
It is a philosophy that says that the New
International Economic Order
must not be allowed to
come about, that the poorer countries must continue to live in the
cycle and circle of exploitation, under which every year the prices of
goods go down while the prices of their manufactured items go up.
Ronald Reagan feels that is justice.
Comrades, in the discussions which have
been raging now in the
United Nations around a regime for the law of the sea, a regime for the
sea, it is only the United States, which has maintained a position that
that the deep sea resources must be exploited by tine multinational
corporations and used by them for their own benefits and in their own
Everyone else in the entire world has come
to the conclusion that
an international authority must be set up to exploit the resources of
the deep sea
and to use these resources to help to end poverty, illiteracy,
ignorance, disease and so on in the world.
Everyone else has that view.
Only the United States Administration with
Ronald Reagan has been
RIGHT TO LIFE: MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL
Comrades, with this sort of situation, it
seems to us that the
prospect for peace and therefore the prospects for the most important
right of all, the right to life, are not good because if you are into
industry and every year you are going to increase by a few more billion
the answer to the economic problems that you are opposing is to build
up a war
industry based on arms, then at some time a war must come and the more
build up and the more arms you have to sell, obviously only a war can
that the arms industry will continue to expand; otherwise you must
point where there are more arms available than people who are willing
Arms can only be stockpiled up to a
certain point and thereafter
they have to e used and that is one of the major predicaments that
finds itself facing.
Comrades, it is our very firm belief that
cannot be neutral in all of this, that progressive lawyers must take a
position on this question.
They must take a stand.
Progressive lawyers have a duty and an
obligation to deal with
the prevailing world reality and, as we know, that reality is
SOME ALARMING STATISTICS
In the area of military expenditures
alone, I have some figures
which I want to real to you very quickly.
Half the resources at present allocated to
in one day will suffice to finance a programme for the total
In just five  hours the world’s
military expenditures are the
equivalent of the overall UNICEF’s budget for child care programmes.
The number of people working in the
military sphere including the
armed forces is today twice the total number of all teachers,
nurses in the world.
Approximately 25% of the world’s
scientific personnel is engaged
in military activity.
It is estimated that 60% of the overall
scientific research [and]
scientific expenditures is absorbed by military programmes.
The value of such research projects if
five time greater than
that of the projects devoted to health protection.
Countries in Asia, Africa and Latin
America allocate 5.9% of
their gross national product to weapons and military expenditures,
devote only 1% to public health
to education, and 1% of the developed counties' military budget will
the existing deficit in international assistance for financing and
food production and creating emergency reserves.
The expenditures for military activities
in a year during the
middle 1970's, would have financed, among many other things, a
programme against infectious diseases for all the children in the
programme for the eradication of adult illiteracy in the entire world,
supplementary food programme for 60 million pregnant women and a
increase for over 100 million pupils.
TRULY SHOCKING REALITIES:
Comrades, the reality of these figures is
truly shocking and must
be something that as progressives we have a duty to reconsider and
and the fact is that these military expenditures are occurring at this
notwithstanding the awful problems of hunger, of malnutrition, of
of unemployment which the Third World faces and as comrades know that
is even more frightening.
It has been estimated, for example, that
the rate of growth of
underdeveloped countries' gross national product dropped from 4.8% in
3.8% in 1980 and to 3.2% in 1981.
Every year the figure falls and as if that
was not bad enough,
the annual rate of growth of the lowest income countries in the
world during the 1960's was only 1.8% and that annual rate of growth
during the 1970's.
These figures mean that the lowest income
countries representing ¼
of the world’s population will require some four hundred to five
to reach the present existing per capita income levels of the most
WORSENING TRADE RELATIONS:
The share of the underdeveloped countries
in the world export
excluding fuel was reduced from about 25% in 1950 to less than 12% in
The continuing deterioration in trade
relations between basic
products and manufactures sharpened by the increase in oil prices has
contributed to the emergence of a huge, chronic deficit in the balance
payments of oil importing underdeveloped countries amounting to some
The external debt of the Third World is
estimated to have reached
in 1981 the enormous figure of over $524 billion and the tendency
points to a
continued increase in a brutal, vicious circle of debt service payments
growing interest rates and more debts.
WORKERS, WOMEN AND CHILDREN HARD HIT
The reality in the Third World, comrades,
is a frightening one
and that reality is as bad for the workers, for the children and for
of the world.
According to the ILO [International Labor
for example in 1980 there
were some 455 million workers in the Third World, over 43% of the
During that same year 46% of the labour
force in Latin America
was affected by open unemployment or underemployment and since then the
situation has gotten worse.
In 1979, there were 75 million children
under the age of 15
working in the world especially in underdeveloped countries, in many
doing exhausting and always underpaid jobs.
Thirty-five percent of the world’s labour
force is composed of
women although they represent a little over one third of the total
force, they receive only one tenth of the world’s revenues.
Women make up one third of the workers but
the money they get
between them is just about one tenth of all the income that is going
Comrades, when we consider this reality in
the world and when we
consider, too, the attitude of many of our own people to solutions to
problems and their idea of what a model country is, that reality needs
be explained and to be exposed because for many people in the Caribbean
the United States still continues with an image of being paradise on
still continues with an image of being the country where everyone, once
willing to work hard, can become a millionaire overnight, still
have an image of being a very stable and secure democracy.
REVEALING F.B.I. STATISTICS
I found some very interesting statistics
from the Federal Bureau
of Investigation (FBI) and these statistics have to do with crime and
will be very relevant to a lawyers' conference.
In the United States, every two seconds a
crime is committed,
every four seconds larceny is committed, every eight seconds an assault
is committed, every twentyeight seconds a car is stolen, every
someone is beaten up, every 58 seconds a hold up takes place, every six
a women is raped, in every twentythree minutes someone is murdered.
These are the statistics, comrades, of the
model society, of what
stability and security and democracy means for many, many people in the
In 1980, the FBI again declared rape cases
rose to 82,000,
500,000 people were robbed, 650,000 were held up and 23,000 murders
That is the country of great human rights,
the country of ideal democracy.
In Grenada, today, when a murder takes
place that is the same as
saying a war has broken out in some country in some part of the world.
such a rare event.
DEVELOP A PROGRESSIVE PERSPECTIVE
Comrades, I want to urge on you that in
your deliberations over
the next two days, you bear in mind that in addressing this question of
rights in the 80's and developing a perspective for progressive lawyers
human rights that the most critical question is to do this in the
the prevailing reality in the world and in the prevailing reality in
We must know what the true facts are, what
the realities are for
most of the poor people in our countries, and therefore the perspective
develop must be a perspective that firstly focuses on the right of the
of the people, a perspective that aims to look at human rights in the
of developing rights for the majority of our people who still continue
poor and overexploited, in this part of the world and, indeed, in many
parts of the world.
Secondly, the perspective we develop must
be a perspective that
deals with material realities and aims to improve them, aims to ensure
realities of poverty and hunger, that the realities of discrimination,
realities of legal inequity are realities which we face up to and try
Thirdly, comrades, in developing this
perspective we must aim to
look in a very serious and scientific manner at the ways in which laws
made, at the ways in which rights really come about.
LAWS AND THE BALANCE OF FORCES
We must recognise, for example, that
governments are composed of
men and women who make laws according to the prevailing material
the country, and who make laws according to the prevailing balance of
the country between the exploited and the exploiters.
We should recognise also that the official
slogan of their
establishment that, “What we have is a government of laws and not of
more of a myth than a reality.
a few years ago, gave
perhaps the classic answer when he said, “the law in its majestic
forbids the rich and the poor alike from sleeping under bridges”.
Obviously, the question of who sleeps
under bridges is really the
The question of whom the law is really
aimed at in the first
place and who the law catches is what really tell you what kind of law
and how the law came about.
If you should examine people who are in
the jails in different
countries, I think it gives a very good idea of the reality in that
with regard to laws on the statutory books.
Comrade, we must never forget that it is
the struggles of the
working people which have brought human rights in the first place, and
precisely our struggle today that will ensure that these rights
in today’s condition it seems to me that each struggle has to be
around three specific aspects:
Firstly, to ensure that those rights and
those laws which have
brought benefits but have been taken away are in fact restored!
Secondly, to ensure that those laws which
are now on the
statutory books in fact remain, and that no one tries to remove them,
weakening this strength of the working people and further eroding the
which they have won, and
Thirdly, of course, we must in a conscious
and systematic way
struggle for an expansion of existing rights.
FINDING NEW HUMAN RIGHTS
We must find new human rights to put on
We must find new human rights that will
deal with the needs of
the people in housing, jobs, health care, education etc.
We must find ways of ensuring that these
human rights are firstly
discussed and secondly after a consensus is reached in a society that
rights must also be entrenched in the constitution and must be given to
working people in our countries.
The struggle for those new rights,
comrades, must start from the
promise that there can be no equality before the law if there is no
equality and so the question of legal equality cannot seriously arise.
When we examine some of these paper rights
that are entrenched in
all constitutions, the right of freedom of expression, for example, can
only be relevant if people are not too hungry, or too tired to be able
That right can only be relevant if
appropriate grassroots mechanisms
rooted in the people exist, through which the people can effectively
participate, can make decisions, can receive reports from the leaders
eventually be trained for ruling and controlling that particular
This is what democracy is all about.
When we speak, likewise, of the right to
work as many
constitutions speak of that right, surely it can only be relevant when
get a job.
Otherwise, it is a meaningless right.
REAL WORKERS RIGHTS
It can only be a relevant right if people,
likewise, have the
right to form and to join trade unions of their choice.
Then, in turn, that must raise the
question of the speed at which
trade unions can be recognised and must know the question of whether
have the right in the first place to ensure legally that any trade
they join, must be recognised by their employers.
We know in many countries in our region
and beyond that right
does not exist.
A right to work, likewise, must surely
deal with the question of
the right not to be arbitrarily dismissed otherwise what is taken in
hand can be taken away with the left, and certainly in Grenada we view
question of the right to work as also to mean the right to know what is
happening in your
enterprise, in your
workplaces, the right to not only be involved but the right to help
decisions, the right to be able to examine books, the right to be able
what are the production targets, what are the possibilities for
role can I have in that and at the end of the year when profits are
right also to share in those profits.
All of that, it seem to us, is part of
that right to work.
And comrades, the right to life, that too
is a right, that
becomes meaningless if secret police, and mongoose gangs are able to
kill, are able
to maim, and brutalise and torture people without any remedy, without
resort to the courts, without any justice being given to those who are
killed or those being brutalised.
What is the point of speaking of the right
to life if the
judicial system itself does not provide the remedies.
What is the point of speaking of this
right to life if health facilities
in the country are so costly that it becomes impossible for you to be
receive proper health care if you are very poor, or if you are a
receiving very small wages, or if you are otherwise dispossed (sic).
THE RIGHT TO DIGNITY
The right to dignity and the right to live
a life of dignity can
only be a meaningful right to the extent to which the basic needs of
population is met, to the extent to which social equality is being
to the extent to which the population as a whole have the right to
the question of war and peace and have the right to decide whether they
go to El Salvador to fight for the transnational corporations, had a
know whether they want to go elsewhere and be bombed because a tiny
see that to be in their interest.
These questions are questions which the
people themselves must be
involved in discussing and must be involved in taking decisions about.
Otherwise, that right too becomes another
So, comrades, I want to close by once
again welcoming all of you
to our country, by wishing you a very successful conference, by hoping
will have the opportunity over the next two days or beyond to travel
country, to meet with our people, to see something of what we are
achieve in Grenada and of course the opportunity too to participate in
March 13th rally itself and other events during
We certainly look forward to seeing all of
you next year and once
again we are very happy in having you all and it is my great pleasure
declare your conference open.
Thank you very much.