Seminar to explore impact of Magna Carta

A seminar that addresses the impact on human rights and democracy of the 800-year-old Magna Carta will be held at the University College of the Cayman Islands this week. 

The University of West Indies Open Campus, along with the Constitutional Affairs and Parliamentary Studies Unit of St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Magna Carta 800th Anniversary Committee, will host the seminar, titled “Magna Carta and Human rights in Cayman Islands.” 

It will be held at UCCI at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, March 25. 

Keynote speaker will be Cayman Islands Attorney General Sam Bulgin. Other speakers include attorney Vaughan Carter, a member of the Constitutional Commission and the Gender Quality Tribunal, who is also former deputy chairman of the Human Rights Committee and senior lecturer at the Cayman Islands Law School, and attorney Natasha Bodden, former Freedom of Information Unit coordinator and the former Immigration Appeals Tribunal coordinator. 

According to organizers, “the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta on 15th June, 2015 presents a unique opportunity to highlight the connection between the Magna Carta and the evolution of human rights and democracy throughout the Commonwealth.” 

The main topics to be addressed include: how the Magna Carta influenced the anti-slavery lobby in England and the abolition of slavery in the 19th century in the West Indies; the connection between English common law, human rights and democracy in the Commonwealth Caribbean and the Magna Carta; and how the Magna Carta influenced the development of human rights and governance in the Cayman Islands. 

The Magna Carta was signed in Runnymede, Surrey, in England, between rebel British barons and King John in 1215. Under duress, the king agreed to a charter of liberties, known as the Magna Carta (or Great Charter) that would place him and all of England’s future sovereigns within a rule of law.  

The charter was not initially successful and was reissued, with alterations, in 1216, 1217 and 1225. It went on to serve as the foundation for the English system of common law.  

The Magna Carta established the principle that everyone is subject to the law, including the king, and guarantees the rights of individuals, the right to justice and the right to a fair trial. 


Staff at the British Library prepare four documents from the original Magna Carta for display in February 2015. Two copies in the British Library’s collection, one from Lincoln Cathedral and one from Salisbury Cathedral were brought together at the library to mark the 800th anniversary of an agreement that has become a symbol of liberty and law. – Photo: CLARE KENDALL/BRITISH LIBRARY

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