Ramphal pays tribute to ANR Robinson
SIR SHRIDATH RAMPHAL, the former Commonwealth secretary general who headed the path-finding West Indian Commission, has praised late Trinidadian leader ANR Robinson for his 'indefatigable commitment' to Caribbean regionalism.
Sir Shridath, also a former chancellor of the University of the West Indies, who had a longstanding relationship with the late head of state, said: "It was as a West Indian that I knew him first, then a young Member of the House of Assembly of the Federation of The West Indies, and when I was a member of the Federation's Legal Department. His commitment to the federal principle was an inspiration to all who laboured in the vineyard of regionalism. And when federalism lost to baser instincts, ANR was among those who never gave up his West Indian identity.
"Nearly 30 years later, It was he, now Trinidad and Tobago's prime minister, in a paper he submitted to Caribbean Heads meeting in Grand Anse, Grenada, a paper entitled The West Indies Beyond 1992 - that recalled Caricom to its intellectual moorings.
"Although I was then with the Commonwealth in London, 'ANR' invited my collaboration in the paper which galvanised his colleagues at Grand Anse in Grenada, leading to the Grand Anse Declaration and Work Programme for the Advancement of the Integration Movement and the Resolution of the Summit 'on preparing the people of the West Indies for the 21st Century, and establishing the West Indian Commission," said Ramphal.
He added that Robinson's vision of the West Indies beyond 1992 was not to be attained by the generation of leaders who followed him; but it remained a beacon to guide them and the people of the Caribbean.
"It is an example of history's mysterious workings that I became chairman of the West Indian Commission and that the commission arrived in Tobago on that same fateful morning just as 'ANR' left Tobago for Port of Spain and the 'Red House'. As the commission sat out the torrid that followed, we never forgot how much the Caribbean owed to his leadership.
"ANR Robinson's legacies are manifold, like the International Criminal Court, but he can be honoured best by our striving in the Caribbean to fulfil the vision he had for this Region in the 21st century," said Ramphal.