News Releases

UWI Professor Verene Shepherd elected for UN Committee Against Racial Discrimination

For Release Upon Receipt - July 2, 2015

St. Augustine

The University of the West Indies, Vice-Chancellery. 02 July 2015 –The UWI congratulates Director of the Institute for Gender & Development Studies and Professor of Social History at the Mona Campus, Professor Verene Shepherd on her appointment to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD). 

During the twenty-sixth meeting of CERD’s States’ in New York on 25 June 2015, Professor Shepherd was elected among the nine members (half of the membership of the Committee) who will replace members whose terms expire in January 2016. She will be the first national of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to serve on the CERD. She was elected along with candidates from Burkina Faso, China, Colombia, Guatemala, Mauritania, Russia, Spain and the United States of America and received the most votes among them. 

The CERD is a body of independent experts charged with monitoring the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination by its State parties. It is one of the eight of the human rights treaty bodies which fall under the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Qualifying experts are persons of high moral character with recognised competence in the field of human rights.  

Professor Verene Shepherd, a fellow of the Cambridge Commonwealth Society, is also graduate of The UWI, Mona Campus and the University of Cambridge, where she read for her PhD in history. Her research interests are Jamaican economic history during slavery, migration and Diasporas, and Caribbean women’s history; and she has published widely on these topics. She is a member of several international organisations and sits on the Advisory/Editorial of several regional and international journals including the Arts Journal, Caribbean Quarterly, Jamaica Journal, Slavery and Abolition. 

Speaking on behalf of The UWI, Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Hilary Beckles stated, "Prof Shepherd has given a lifetime of service to the region and world in the search for social justice, equity, and development. In so doing she has served in the leadership of national, regional and international organisations. She is now one of the region's most senior international diplomats whose success has been tangible. Last year she guided UN committees into the General Assembly's declaring 2015-2024 the Decade for People of African Descent. Now she moves to the CERD. Within The UWI we celebrate this superlative contribution and wish her continued success for all our sakes." 

Professor Shepherd shared her philosophy on racism stating, “The scourge of racism, racial discrimination, Afrophobia, Islamophobia, Xenophobia and related intolerance must be expunged from the human family, thereby ensuring the inherent dignity and fundamental rights and freedoms of all - regardless of 'race', ethnicity, gender, skin colour, heritage/ancestry, religion, sexual orientation and place of birth". She added, "Discrimination is abhorrent to peaceful co-existence and that justice is vital to peace”.  One of her priority areas while on the CERD will be to urge state parties to provide effective and adequate remedies, internally and externally, to victims of racism and racial discrimination, in accordance with Article 6 and General recommendation 26 of the ICERD.

Professor Shepherd is expected to serve on the committee for the term 2016-2020. 


About The UWI  

Since its inception in 1948, The University of the West Indies (UWI) has evolved from a fledgling college in Jamaica with 33 students to a fully-fledged, regional University with over 50,000 students. Today, The UWI is the largest, most longstanding higher education provider in the Commonwealth Caribbean, with three physical campuses in Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and an Open Campus. The UWI serves 17 English-speaking countries and territories in the Caribbean: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, The British Virgin Islands, The Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and Turks and Caicos. The UWI’s faculty and students come from more than 40 countries and The University has collaborative links with 160 universities globally; it offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food and Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities and Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science and Technology and Social Sciences. The UWI’s seven priority focal areas are linked closely to the priorities identified by CARICOM and take into account such over-arching areas of concern to the region as environmental issues, health and wellness, gender equity and the critical importance of innovation.