PHILIPSBURG:0--- On Saturday, 20 June 2020, the University of St. Martin (USM) in collaboration with the Sint Maarten Anti-Poverty Platform will hold the first-ever webinar with local and international guest experts. The full-day event, open to the public via Zoom and broadcasted via Facebook, will be dedicated to various topics that fall under the theme “Human Rights in the Face of COVID-19”.
According to USM President Dr. Antonio Carmona Báez, the purpose of this webinar is to create a space for critical reflection and in-depth analysis into the state of human rights since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation on 11 March 2020.
Following lockdown, schools were closed and thousands of formal and informal workers were left without an income. Just like after a hurricane, the COVID-19 pandemic exposes increased patterns and structures of inequality, whereby the most vulnerable sectors of society including migrants, youth, and the elderly, are brought to the brinks of survival. As we face radical changes in our way of life under the pandemic, it is important that our political and economic leaders safeguard human rights, which are guaranteed under treaties and conventions constituting international public law”, Carmona stated.
The webinar will consist of 2 three-hour sessions, morning and afternoon. Each session will consist of three introductions given by our invited guests, who will talk for 20 minutes each and participate in 1.5 hours of structured dialogue. Topics include a general overview of human rights in times of crisis; civil and political rights; socio-economic and cultural rights; labor; education and migrant rights. Among the speakers is Dr. Daphina Misiedjan of the Erasmus University Institute for Social Studies (ISS) at The Hague, legal expert Gilbert de Windt, sociologist Raymond Jessurun, former Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor (VSA) Pamela Gordon-Carty; Mr. Cor Merx of the Pubic Prosecutors Office and Dr. Carmona Báez.
USM and the Anti-poverty Platform hope that after a successful webinar on Saturday, St. Martin can assist in holding a truly inclusive Kingdom-wide dialogue on human rights. “This webinar could not be timelier. With the pandemic came tensions within the Kingdom and later mass protests against racism”, said Anti-poverty Platform co-coordinator Raymond Jessurun.
“And then we asked ourselves: who is responsible for guaranteeing human rights in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom? This is a discussion to be had on all six islands and also with our brothers and sisters in the Netherlands.”