STATEMENT ON ‘FACING THE FUTURE’ INITIATIVE

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WITH its small, highly diverse population and vast natural resources, Guyana is strategically well-placed to develop economically.  Moreover, Guyanese of all races mix easily on a day-to-day basis: eat each others food, celebrate each others festivals, work, play and pray together. We share a sense of fair play, of respect for law and order and belief in the equality of opportunity for everyone to improve themselves. In other words, prosperity ought to be a realistic hope for Guyanese without great social or political upheaval, in a relatively short period of time.

Additionally, the great majority of Guyanese people are energetic, ambitious and serious, as manifest in their success in the many countries to which they have been migrating for years.  The issue then is not about whether we have the capacity to turn Guyana into the society in which we want to work and build a future. Why then do Guyanese feel compelled to seek a successful life elsewhere? What is preventing us from realizing our potential?

These are the questions the organizations listed below have come together to address in their “Facing the Future” initiative. Over the course of this year, the grouping intends to explore this fundamental issue with different sectors of society, taking advantage of the electoral season to engage political parties.

The first phase of these activities will take place during the next two months when opportunities will be created for a wide cross-section of the society to both contribute and listen to other opinions. Three events are planned, the first of which took place last Saturday for young people, organized by Rights Of Children (ROC); the next two will take place on Tuesday, March 8 for women’s groups and Saturday March 12 for all civil society groupings. These events will be followed by a visit towards the end of March by a team of three distinguished people who have spent their professional lives working on the same basic problem – why some societies persistently fail to realize their potential.  The team will hold meetings with many sectors of Guyanese society. Afterwards they will react to what they have heard in light of their broad experience in societies with similar problems. The purpose of the visit is not to ask them to resolve Guyana ’s problems, but to react in light of their experience around the globe.

The visiting team consists of three persons: Dr. Yash Ghai, a Kenyan Asian and constitutional lawyer, currently advising several Asian and African countries; Dr. Jill Cottrell, also a constitutional expert who has spent her professional life working on this issue primarily in Africa; and Dr. Bertie Ramcharan, a Guyanese, formerly Deputy UN High Commissioner for Human Rights – a capacity which saw him involved in most of the dysfunctional societies around the globe.

The second phase of the initiative will take the form of formulating and developing proposals for realizing greater inclusivity and seeking pledges from political parties with respect to implementing changes in the post-election period.

Sponsoring Organizations
Amerindian Peoples Association (APA) Guyana Society for the Blind
Church Women United  Guyana Workers Union (GWU)
Commonground  Georgetown Chamber of Commerce (GCCI)
Community-Based Rehabilitation – EBD  Institute of Development Studies (IDS)
Guyana Council of Churches (GCC)  Red Thread
Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA)  Rights of Children (ROC)
Guyana Islamic Trust ( GIT )  Vilvoorden Women’s Organization
Convenor:  GHRA – tel: 227-4911, email:  ghra_guy@networksgy.com