Caribbean diplomat Richard Bernal to join UWI

Thursday, March 03, 2016

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Top Caribbean diplomat and technocrat Ambassador Dr Richard Bernal is to join the University of the West Indies (UWI) as pro-vice chancellor for global affairs.

This new post created by Vice Chancellor Sir Hilary Beckles is intended to, strengthen and develop UWI’s international alliances for collaboration with universities and research institutions. It will also enhance the exchange of academic staff and students.

Bernal leaves the broad of directors of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) after serving the Caribbean for eight years during which Jamaica received US$2.2 billion in loans and grants to the Government and the private sector.

The new post combines Bernal’s skills and experience as a diplomat, technocrat and scholar. He was educated at the UWI, University of Pennsylvania, New School for Social Research, and the School for Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins University. Bernal, who is also an economist, holds the degrees of BSc, MA, PhD (Economics), and MIPP (International Public Policy).

In a long career he was, for eight years, director-general of the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery (RNM) with responsibility for trade negotiations for the Caribbean Community (Caricom). He was principal negotiator for the Forum of Caribbean States (CARIFORUM) in the negotiation of the CARIFORUM-European Union Economic Partnership Agreement and Caricom’s lead negotiator in the World Trade Organisation and the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) negotiations.

Dr Bernal was Jamaica’s ambassador to the United States of America and permanent representative to the Organization of American States for the period May 6, 1991 to August 31, 2001. When he demitted office after 10 ½ years, he was dean of the Caribbean Diplomatic Corps.

Ambassador Bernal has given testimonies to several committees of Congress (House and Senate) and the US International Trade Commission on issues of concern to the Caribbean such as aid, NAFTA and the Caribbean Basin Initiative.

Previous to his diplomatic posting he was chief executive officer of a commercial bank. He has also worked in the Bank of Jamaica and the Planning Institute/Agency of Jamaica and as advisor to the minister of finance on external debt management and stabilisation and adjustment policy.

Dr Bernal has deputised for Jamaica’s minister of finance at the International Monetary Fund, IDB and World Bank, including meetings of the finance ministers of the Western Hemisphere.

When asked about taking up the post he said: "I am pleased to be given the opportunity to serve the University of the West Indies. I have always had an abiding love for the institution where I was a student and lecturer. Returning to UWI and the Caribbean is a homecoming. I am fully committed and looking forward to the challenge and to giving back to the institution which provided the foundation of my career."

Dr Bernal taught international economics and development economics at UWI for seven years and was a research fellow at the university’s Institute of Social and Economic Studies. There he worked with his mentor Sir Alister McIntyre.

Dr Bernal is a self-confessed addict of learning through reading and writing and has published three books and over 100 articles in scholarly journals, books, and monographs. His opinion editorials in the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and Miami Herald have been featured on CNN, PBS and BBC radio. His books include Globalisation, Trade and Economic Development. A Study of the CARIFORM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013); Dragon in the Caribbean. China’s Global Re-Positioning. Challenges and Opportunities for the Caribbean (Kingston: Ian Randle Publishers, April 2014); and The Influence of Small States on Superpowers: Jamaica and US Foreign Policy (Lanham: Lexington Publishers, July 2015).

When asked if he planned to write more books now that he will be back in academia, Bernal responded: "The priority on which I am focused is to facilitate the students and staff to realise their full potential in a university which is a global brand of the highest standards."

However, he confessed that he is already working on his fourth book.

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