FINANCE Minister Dr Peter Phillips and St Vincent and the Grenadine Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves are among a team of distinguished speakers confirmed for an international conference to be hosted by the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social & Economic Studies (SALISES) at the University of the West Indies (UWI) to be held at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel from August 20 to 24.
Also down to speak is Barbados's leader of the opposition, Owen Arthur.
Plans for the conference were outlined at a SALISES press conference last week by SALISES director, Dr Brian Meeks; Professor Trevor Munroe and Dr Patsy Lewis.
The Conference, titled '50-50: Critical Reflections in a Time of Uncertainty', is the culmination of an approximately two-year programme of research spearheaded by SALISES, some aspects of which have previously been shared with the Jamaican populace in a series of seminars hosted throughout 2011, including individual 'Public Conversations' with Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller and former prime ministers Edward Seaga and PJ Patterson.
There are well over 200 papers in the conference programme representing a broad range of articles on various aspects of the post-Independence experience in the Caribbean presented by a host of distinguished speakers, including British Member of Parliament Diane Abbott (who is of Jamaican descent); Professor Verene Shepherd, director of UWI's Centre for Gender and Development; Professor Norman Girvan, former director of the Association of Caribbean States; and the Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, Sir Dwight Venner. Sir George Alleyne, chancellor of UWI will deliver the Sir Arthur Lewis Distinguished Lecture, 'Whence and Whither Caribbean Health in this Fiftieth Year?'
The Jamaican experience is well represented at the conference, in keeping with Jamaica's standing as the first country to become independent with a range of papers including sports and culture, religion, health, education, crime, conflicts politics, fertility.
Trinidad & Tobago, which also gained independence in 1962, and other islands such as Grenada, Cuba, Haiti, St Lucia and Guyana are also included. There area number of panels with a regional focus. One such panel, 'Conflict and the Independence Experience: Unresolved issues', looks at the context in which independence was gained in Grenada, St Kitts Nevis and Guyana as a means of understanding some of the conflicts that are present in those societies today. There are also a number of panels and round tables on the regional integration process, migration, debts that are of general interest to the region.