The UWI to lead Magna Carta project across the Caribbean
The University of the West Indies (UWI) St. Augustine Campus has been awarded a grant by the Magna Carta 800th Anniversary Committee in the UK to support the work of The UWI in promoting the understanding of Magna Carta in the Commonwealth Caribbean. Through the grant, a project titled “The Impact and Influence of Magna Carta on the Commonwealth Caribbean,” is being led by Dr. Hamid Ghany, Senior Lecturer in Political Science and Coordinator of the Constitutional Affairs and Parliamentary Studies Unit (CAPSU) of The UWI’s Faculty of Social Sciences. The project will be launched with a Distinguished Lecture by Chairman of the Magna Carta 800th Anniversary Committee, Professor Sir Robert Worcester, KBE DL on Saturday, October 18, 2014 at the Learning Resource Centre from 7:00 pm.
Magna Carta was one of the first documents imposed upon a King of England by a group of his subjects, the feudal barons, in an attempt to limit his powers by law and protect their rights. The charter is widely known throughout the English speaking world as an important part of the protracted historical process that led to the rule of constitutional law in England and beyond. It limited the power of authoritarian rule, the “divine right of kings,” and it paved the way for trial by jury, modified through the ages as the franchise was extended. The original Great Charter was agreed by King John on June 15, 1215 when he acceded to barons’ and bishops’ demands to limit his powers and directed that it be sealed. This version of Magna Carta was revised several times in the 13th Century. The 1297 version became part of English law.
Dr. Ghany noted: “In understanding the foundation of the legal and constitutional principles that form the essence of English common law that lie at the core of the democracies of most Commonwealth Caribbean countries today, an appreciation of the role of the Magna Carta will deepen that understanding in a manner not previously articulated.”
The project will deliver lectures and seminars in various parts of the Commonwealth Caribbean and one British Dependent Territory, and encourage discussions that will analyse the impact and influence of the Magna Carta on the Commonwealth Caribbean. It is expected that it will lead to the publication of a book on the impact and influence of the Magna Carta on the Commonwealth Caribbean as well as the infusion of content on the Magna Carta into the UWI postgraduate course GOVT 6005-Political Theory.
Professor Sir Robert Worcester, past Chancellor of the University of Kent and founder of Market and Opinion Research International, noted: “The 800th anniversary of Magna Carta is an occasion to deepen understanding of the crucial role it has played in the development of so many countries, especially in the Commonwealth. I am pleased that Dr Ghany is taking up the challenge to chart Magna Carta’s influence across the Commonwealth Caribbean. This project will not just be an academic and historical exercise, but will also, through a series of open lectures by distinguished scholars, legal historians and political leaders across the Caribbean, be another opportunity to commemorate the individual rights we enjoy today and to strengthen human rights around the world.”