New book by Vasciannie hits the stands


New book by Vasciannie hits the stands

Sunday, October 11, 2020

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The University of Technology, Jamaica Press has announced the publication of a new book by Professor Stephen Vasciannie, former president of the university.

Vasciannie's new book, entitled Caribbean Essays on Law and Policy, combines discussions on international Law, Caribbean law and Caribbean policy issues in a manner designed to stimulate policymakers, legal practitioners and laypersons alike.

Ambassadors Abroad

The book comprises six essays, which reflect Vasciannie's legal and technical experience in both academic and diplomatic arenas. The first essay — Diplomatic Immunity: A Review of Jamaican State Practice — offers an extensive assessment of the treatment offered by Jamaica to foreign diplomats in this country and an account of treatment received by our representatives abroad.

Among other things, this essay recalls declarations under which Ambassador Vincent De Roulet of the USA and Ambassador Ulysses Estrada of Cuba were each declared persona non grata by Michael Manley and Edward Seaga, respectively. Written against the backdrop of the international law relating to diplomats, the essay explains why diplomats may occasionally appear to escape the full rigour of the law in cases of wrongdoing, and demonstrates instances in which Jamaica has been scrupulous in observing the law even when — as in the high-profile Vargas Case — such observation is open to public criticism.

Professorial Tribute

The second essay — Ian Brownlie: A Caribbean Student's Appreciation — is a tribute to one of the leading international law academics and practitioners in the post-World War II era. Vasciannie, as a doctoral student under Brownlie's supervision in the 1980s, has presented a critical study of the methods and points of emphasis of his teacher. Brownlie, who was the Chichele Professor of International Law at Oxford from 1980 to 1999, authored a leading textbook on his subject, mastered topics on areas such as the Use of Force by States as well as the Law of the Sea, and wa a fervent defender of the pedigree of international law.

Vasciannie, who in subsequent years shared places on the United Nations International Law Commission with his former supervisor, teases out the implications of Brownlie's positions for Caribbean scholarship in matters such as the Grenada intervention and the role of international law in Caribbean domestic law.

OAS Human Rights

For many years, the Organization of American States (OAS) has sought to promote greater participation by Caribbean countries in regional human rights matters. These efforts have, however, been met by lukewarm responses by persons in the Caribbean. Accordingly, some Caribbean states simply ignore the dictates of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, while others grudgingly acknowledge the work of this body.

How may this situation be rectified, so that the human rights perspectives coming from the OAS will receive enhanced respect? This question forms the core issue of the third item in Caribbean essays. Using as his base the 44th Session of the OAS General Assembly on the reform of the Inter-American Human Rights System in 2013, Vasciannie highlights the need for the OAS to give greater ownership to the Caribbean within the human rights system. He also subjects to critical scrutiny the attempt by some states to have the headquarters of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights transferred from Washington DC.

Law of the Sea

In the fourth essay, Vasciannie returns home with an analysis under the heading The Montego Bay Convention on the Law of the Sea: Jamaica and the Rule of Law. On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the entry into force of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in 2019, Vasciannie delivered a lecture organised by Jamaica's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade primarily on the ways in which the Convention promotes the international rule of law.

The Convention has resulted in the widespread dissemination of rules on the Law of the Sea, ensured greater enforcement of the law, created points of certainty on matters such as the width of the territorial sea for states, and crystallised the law on the Exclusive Economic Zone and archipelagic states. With respect to Jamaica in particular, this essay reviews the country's regulation of its maritime space in relation to nuclear shipments, narcotics regulation and access to living and non-living resources.

Constitution and Race

The final two essays are concerned with Constitutional Change in Jamaica and on Race and Jamaican Society. The former addresses the topical issue of the role of the monarchy in the local constitutional order, the possible abolition of the monarchy, and the related issue of Privy Council appeals from Jamaica. On these issues, Vasciannie supports the view that it is time for change. He does so, however, only after providing an extensive review of the main arguments offered in these debates.

As to Race and Jamaican Society, the essay presents three propositions, namely:

• In international law and international relations, Jamaica has adopted principled positions on matters relating to race and racism;

• Jamaican domestic law prohibits racial discrimination and protects individuals from racial discrimination; and

• Social attitudes are evolving, but there is no clear agreement on the extent of progress.

The propositions give rise to various issues including the significance on black upliftment, the relevance of the national motto, the interaction between racial matters and questions of class, migration and Rastafarianism, and the possible exoneration of Marcus Garvey in the USA.

The book covers a broad range of significant issues in the public sphere. Written in a clear and concise style, its 260 pages reflect both sharp analysis and attention to points of detail.

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