Two UWI Academics appointed to IACHR
Two senior academics in the Faculty of Law at The University of the West Indies (UWI) have been selected as Commissioners on the Inter American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).
Professor Rose-Marie Belle Antoine and Ms. Tracy Robinson were elected as members of IACHR at the 41st Regular Session of the Organisation of American States (OAS) General Assembly, held in San Salvador from June 5-7, 2011. Both will serve a four-year term commencing January 1, 2012.
Trinidadian Antoine and Jamaica-born Robinson make history as the first Caribbean women to have ever been elected to the Washington-based human rights body which serves the US, Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean. It is also the first time that two CARICOM nationals have been elected to the Commission at the same time.
Professor Antoine, UWI Professor of Labour Law & Offshore Financial Law is an Oxford Commonwealth Scholar and a Cambridge Pegasus Scholar. She holds a doctorate from Oxford University (Balliol College), an LL.M. from Cambridge, an LL.B. from The University of the West Indies and diplomas and certificates with distinction in international human rights from the International Institute of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France. The youngest person in Law to obtain UWI’s highest academic rank of Professor, her specialist subject areas are Discrimination Law, Public Law, Labour Law, Offshore Financial Law and Legal Systems. Antoine won the coveted UWI Vice-Chancellor’s Regional Award for Excellence in Research, the only person from the Law Faculty to have done so, the UK Emerald Literati Prize and was honoured by the Commonwealth Foundation as an ‘eminent scholar’.
Professor Rose-Marie Belle Antoine
Professor Antoine has served as lead consultant to virtually all of the governments of the Commonwealth Caribbean, to the UK, Venezuela, USA and Canada, and to several international organisations, including the European Union, OAS, IADB, the World Bank, CARICOM, OECS, UNICEF, ILO, UNIFEM and UNDCP. She has contributed directly to Caribbean legal development and social policy by spearheading various projects, producing far-reaching Reports on diverse issues, including on Discrimination, Public Service Reform, Gender Equality, Labour, Health, Free Movement of Labour, Judicial Review of State Action, Financial Law, Rights Issues in Law Enforcement and Anti-Corruption, HIV, Workers’ Rights and Equality at the Workplace. She has drafted a variety of legislation such as Labour Codes, HIV, immigration, non-discrimination and human trafficking laws, and trained the judiciary and other professionals. As a result of her consultancy work, she has been described as the “foremost labour law expert in the region” and the “leading” expert in the region in Offshore Financial Law, Labour Law Rights and the law on HIV.
Professor Antoine is the author of several books and many articles in international law journals and her work has been cited frequently by courts, jurists and used by universities abroad. Notably, she is the only person from The UWI to be published by the prestigious Oxford University Press, with her two texts Confidentiality in Offshore Financial Lawand Trusts and Related Tax Issues in Offshore Financial Law, described as ‘path-breaking’ and ‘amazing’ by international jurists and which include chapters on finance, trade and Rights. Her first book, Commonwealth Caribbean Law and Legal Systems, published by Routledge-Cavendish, London, introduced international human rights to the curriculum and includes several other chapters on rights, such as the Constitution, indigenous peoples, and access to justice. She is also the author of the CARICOM Harmonization in Labour Law Report 1992, which was the blueprint for the CARICOM model laws and a catalyst for labour law reform in the region.
Antoine is part of a six-member OAS team of international experts engaged in preparatory work toward eliminating racial discrimination. She has served as technical expert on HIV to the UN Global Forum, CAREC, PANCAP and community groups. She also led important human rights research and policy formation on Children’s Rights in several countries and participated in the foundational activities of CAFRA, the premier organisation dedicated to gender equality in the Caribbean region.
Professor Antoine’s contributions extend beyond the region and embrace almost every facet of human rights. Her interest in human rights extends to economic, social and cultural rights and the ways in which these inform more concretely protected civil and political rights. Her work in other disciplines such as labour, financial law and health has enhanced this approach and further complements and enriches her human rights agenda. She pioneered the introduction of more socially centred learning to the UWI’s curriculum, such as Discrimination in Employment, the rights of Indigenous Peoples, in HIV and public service law. She was also instrumental in examining issues of rights in traditional commercial subjects.
Ms. Tracy Robinson
Meanwhile, fellow-Commissioner Ms. Robinson is one of the principal teachers of Caribbean public law at The UWI, directing the undergraduate course Constitutional Law, co-directing Commonwealth Caribbean Human Rights Law and lecturing in Gender, Family Law and Constitutional Law. She graduated from The University of the West Indies in 1991 with a First Class Honours Degree in Law. In 1996, this Rhodes Scholar joined The UWI Faculty of Law as a lecturer, having completed postgraduate degrees at University of Oxford and Yale Law School.
She is a co-founder of the Faculty of Law’s UWI Rights Advocacy Project (U-RAP) whose objective it is to promote human rights and social justice in the Caribbean by undertaking and participating in human rights litigation in collaboration with human rights lawyers and human rights organisations.
Robinson is also the co-founder and co-coordinator of the Faculty’s Workshop Series (FWS) which has provided a forum for the research and scholarship of faculty members. FWS has offered sustained academic analysis of the early work of the CCJ, both its appellate and original jurisdiction. It has also continued The UWI Law Faculty’s tradition of critiquing of the work and legacy of the Privy Council, and during its five years, has paid keen attention to the Faculty’s contribution to public law and international law.
Robinson’s professional work concentrates on evidence-informed legal and policy reform aimed at furthering gender equality and children’s rights in the Caribbean. She has been involved in the ongoing OECS Family Law and Domestic Violence Judicial and Legislative Reform Project, the largest regional family law reform initiative. She has been a partner in the UN Women Child Support, Poverty and Family Responsibilities Project since its inception in 2005. This regional research project is a leading player in legal and social policy reform relating to child support in the English-speaking Caribbean.
More broadly, her work pays close attention to social inequality and vulnerabilities aligned to gender and sexuality and the ways in which law can support human development and empowerment. Her expertise on gender-based violence, sex work and the law, sexual harassment, sexual and reproductive rights, same-sex sexuality and the law, child rights and human rights law in general is utilised by intergovernmental organisations, Caribbean governments, civil society organisations and increasingly in judicial training.
In 2003 she was appointed as a member of the Family Law Council, which is tasked with leading family law reform in Barbados, and she continues to serve on that Council. She has also been appointed to serve as a member the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to the recently created UN Global Commission on HIV and Human Rights. This 23-member group – comprising experts on law and human rights, HIV, public health, civil society, marginalised communities and people living with HIV – advises the Commission on challenging legal and human rights issues relating to HIV.
As well as being IACHR Commissioners together, Antoine and Robinson are both founding members of the Coalition against All Forms of Sexual Harassment (CASH), a women’s advocacy group established in 2003 and which has been an influential voice in advocacy for sexual harassment legislation in Barbados, assisting in refining the country’s Draft Sexual Harassment Policy and Draft Bills. Additionally, in 2008, both women were named among the 60 outstanding academics under age 60 to be recognised by The UWI as part of its 60th Anniversary celebrations. For more on the 60 under 60 project see www.uwi.edu/60under60/.