INTRODUCTORY REMARKS BY
Dr. DeLisle Worrell
Governor, Central Bank of Barbados
35TH Sir Winston Scott Memorial Lecture
Frank Collymore Hall
November 15, 2010
Hon. Chief Justice, Hon. Ministers, Excellencies, Ms Pamela Hope and family, distinguished friends, guests and colleagues.
We are privileged tonight to benefit from the insights of one whose professional career has been devoted to the cause of human rights. It is a cause we are sometimes inclined to despair of, when we see the many, many instances, in the large and in the particular, where human rights are violated every day. However, I am convinced such scepticism is entirely unwarranted, and that true respect for human rights will continue to broaden and strengthen, all across the globe. My belief is grounded in the fact that acceptance of the notion of universal human rights is now taken for granted, worldwide. There can be very few societies left anywhere in the world that do not accept the notion that all humans are entitled to equal rights, whatever their colour, creed, social standing, or other attributes. Even if we may disagree as to what those rights are, we accept that it is wrong to deprive any human being of them. That is a tremendous achievement for humanity. And when we think of it, it is a relatively recent achievement. Not so long ago, even in the industrial world, there were large numbers of people who did not think that slaves, or people of a different colour, creed, culture or social standing, were entitled to the rights that they enjoyed and insisted on among themselves. The fact that we have now internalised the idea that all humans are entitled to the same rights means that we have bad consciences when those rights are violated anywhere, including in our own societies, and some of us are exercised to do something about it. Dr. Irene Khan has been at the forefront of the cause of human rights, in the International Commission of Jurists, at the UN Human Rights Commission, and as Secretary-General of Amnesty International. We thank her very much for accepting our invitation to address us. I am confident that she points the way to our future, a future where respect for human rights is increasingly practiced right around the globe. That is because the righteous human instincts, the ones that sit well with the voice of conscience, are so much stronger than the fear, envy and hate that feed our baser instincts. The evidence is that we have evolved the consciences we have, and the civilisation we enjoy. We look forward to this lecture with anticipation.
The Bank held its inaugural Sir Winston Scott Memorial Lecture in 1976 to commemorate the life our nation’s first native Governor General, in recognition of his outstanding service to the country as Governor General and, prior to that, as a leading medical practitioner. The Central Bank of Barbados has always taken an organic view of society, seeing ourselves as a specialised organ in a living society. We have sought to enrich our society by a variety of what are usually referred to as outreach activities such as the Frank Collymore Literary Award, the annual Crop Over competitions and exhibitions, and a long standing schools educational programme, among others. These activities, including this lecture, are not really outreach; they are an integral part of who we are. The Scott lecture aims to bring path-breaking global thinking and ideas to our doorstep, and the lectures have covered the gamut of human life and endeavour. Dr. Khan tells me she was surprised to receive an invitation of this kind from a central bank; from this central bank it is not surprising, thanks to the vision of our very first Governor, Sir Courtney Blackman, who recognised the importance of such windows to the wider world.
Before I invite Dr. Khan to address you, let me welcome our Attorney General, Hon. Adriel Brathwaite to give the welcoming address.