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Invites you to
An International Conference
March 30–31, 2007


  • THE HON. PATRICK MANNING, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago
  • THE HON. ORVILLE LONDON, Chief Secretary of the Tobago House of Assembly
  • ANHIL AMAR, Professor, Yale Law School, and author of America’s Constitution: A Biography
  • MARGARET BURNHAM, Professor, Northeastern School of Law and director of Northeastern University Project on Civil Rights and Restorative Justice
  • DR. LLOYD BARNETT, O.J., and author of The Constitutional Law of Jamaica (1977)
  • DR. VLADIMIR AGUILAR, Professor, University of Los Andes (Venezuela) and Director, Political and Social Training Center of Latin America (CEPSAL)
  • HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR., Alphonse Fletcher Jr. University Professor and director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute of African and African American Research, Harvard University
  • SIMEON C. R. MCINTOSH, Professor of Jurisprudence; Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of the West Indies; and author of Caribbean Constitution Reform: Rethinking West Indian Polity (2002)
  • DANA S. SEETAHAL, SC, Independent Senator, Trinidad and Tobago Senate
  • LOUIS LEE SING, Chairman, Citadel Limited (Trinidad)
  • SELWYN RYAN, Professor Emeritus, University of the West Indies and member of the Constitutional Committee (Trinidad and Tobago)
  • DOUGLAS L. MENDES, SC, Lecturer, Constitutional Law, University of the West Indies
  • CRAIG MURPHY, Historian of the United Nations Development Programme and Professor of International Relations, Wellesley College
  • J. A. GEORGE IRISH, Professor and executive director, Caribbean Research center, MedgarEvers College (CUNY)


W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, Harvard University; Newhouse Center for the Humanities, Wellesley College; Africana Studies Department, Wellesley College; COSTAATT (College of Science, Technology and Applied Arts of Trinidad and Tobago); Citadel Limited (i95fm), Research Center, Medgar Evers College (CUNY).


Thursday, March 29: Mt. Irving Bay Hotel, Tobago; Friday, March 30: La Joya, St. Joseph, Trinidad; Saturday, March 31, La Joya, St. Joseph, Trinidad


Adults: $50; Students: $35

For further information, please call Selwyn R. Cudjoe 781-237-2230; 781-249-4075; Africana Studies, Wellesley College, 781-283-2563; or NAEAP 868-674-1345.

In her article “Indigenous Constitutionalism and the Death Penalty: The Case of the Commonwealth Caribbean,” Margaret Burnham, Law Professor at Northeastern University School of Law, argues that constitutions created in the Commonwealth Caribbean in the wake of independence in the 1960s “were neither original nor indigenous. Rather, like independence itself, they were not only bestowed on the new state by the colonial power but were superimposed on existing legal structures, themselves transplanted to serve colonial interests.” She claims that these constitutions simply “preserved much of the colonial legal system.” In the case of Trinidad and Tobago, in an effort to erase “the autochthony dilemma” (or the authenticity of these constitutions), this country adopted a republican constitution in 1976 that changed little from its Independence constitution. Another important aspect of our constitution-making process involves the relationship between Trinidad and Tobago.

Over the past year, Trinidad and Tobago has been discussing a proposed constitution to supersede its republican constitution that it adopted in 1976. To assist in furthering this discussion, the National Association for the Empowerment of African People (NAEAP), together with other institutions (see co-sponsors), will conduct a three-day conference at Mt. Irving Bay Hotel, Tobago, and La Joya Conference Hall, St. Joseph, Trinidad, on March 29-31, to examine various aspects of the constitution-making process, the role of people (that is, the sovereignty of people in this process) in the construction of the constitution, the relationship of this document to other such documents, how this document enhances our democratic way of life, and how we can make it a model document, nationally and internationally.

We will devote the first day, Thursday, March 29, to a discussion of the challenges of unitary statehood and the relationship between the central government and the Tobago House of Assembly. Friday, March 30, will be devoted to a round table discussion in Trinidad with about eight participants who will be asked to address several pre-arranged questions. This session is aimed mostly at high school, university, and law students to encourage a rigorous discussion of the issues involved in constructing an indigenous constitution and a mode of discourse around issues such as these. Attendance at this session is by invitation only. Students invited to attend will be asked to complete readings prior to the session.

The third day of the conference, Saturday, March 31, is open to the general public. Guest speakers will share their thoughts, and members of the audience will have a chance to pose questions and have them answered. Attendees will have access to the same readings that the students discussed. Such a process would allow for a more meaningful discussion.

The conference proceedings will be recorded and presented to the Trinidad and Tobago government to assist in the ongoing constitutional discussion.


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