On the 9th of April 2014, the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago mourned the loss of former president and politician Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson who died at the age of eighty-seven (87). Despite humble beginnings in Tobago, ANR Robinson impacted Trinidad and Tobago, the Caribbean and the international community with his exceptional leadership and significant contributions to development and human rights.
After attending Castara Methodist School (Tobago), the 1939 Bowles scholarship recipient went on to study at Bishop’s High School in Tobago. There he won a Junior House scholarship (1942), excelled in Latin and graduated with two (2) Cambridge Higher Certificates. Despite being unsuccessful in winning another scholarship to further his education, he persisted and pursued a Batchelor of Laws degree as an external student of the London University (1949). He passed the Final Bar Exam at Inner Temple in London (1953) and later obtained a degree in philosophy, politics and economics at St. John’s College, Oxford. He was admitted to practice law in Trinidad and Tobago in 1955.
The Tobago-born scholar returned from studying abroad with a desire to change the conditions and governance of his people. This led to a long, distinguished and distinctive political career. In his capacity as Member of Parliament for Tobago East, he presented a historic motion for internal self-governance for Tobago and established a revamped Tobago House of Assembly. He was a founding member of the political party, the National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR) and served as the third Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, during a challenging period in the nation’s history. During his tenure, he survived an attempted coup by the Jamaat al Muslimeen in July 1990, despite his defiant instructions, “attack with full force.” His decisions impacted the political and economic landscape of Trinidad and Tobago, among them facilitating a coalition government and introducing value-added tax (VAT) amid the global financial crisis.
ANR Robinson also had a distinguished career as a jurist. He is credited as being instrumental in the establishment of the International Criminal Court and also several Caribbean initiatives in regional development and jurisprudence, such as the Caribbean Regional Economic Conference, the Caribbean Court of Appeal and the West Indian Commission. ANR or Robbie, as he was fondly called, has been described as a “true Caribbean man” because of his remarkable service to the Caribbean Community.
He authored books, articles and addresses, among them In the Midst of it: The Autobiography of Former President & Former Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (2012) and The Mechanics of Independence: Patterns of Political and Economic Transformation in Trinidad and Tobago (2001).
Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson holds the distinction of being the first and only person in the nation’s history to hold three of the highest public offices in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. He served as the Chairman of the Tobago House of Assembly (1980-1986), Prime Minister (1986-1991) and President (1997-2003). He was one of the most experienced parliamentarians in the Caribbean, and his notable contributions have been recognised with national, regional and international accolades.
Discover more on the life of Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson through the Heritage Library collections which document his work and personal life. To view these items, contact us at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, visit NALIS’ Subject Guide (hyperlink to: https://www.nalis.gov.tt/Resources/Subject-Guide/Biographies) for biographies on ANR Robinson and other prominent local personalities.
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“Arthur NR Robinson receives Tobago’s Highest Award.” Tobago House of Assembly, 30 Nov. 2011, www.tha.gov.tt/news/arthur-nr-robinson-receives-tobagos-highest-award/. Accessed 18 Jun. 2021.
“Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson.” CARICOM, caricom.org/personalities/arthur-napoleon-raymond-robinson/. Accessed 18 Jun. 2021.
“Biographies P-R: A.N.R. Robinson.” NALIS, www.nalis.gov.tt/Resources/Subject-Guide/Biographies/Biographies-P-R#tabposition_23978. Accessed 26 May 2021.
“CCJ Statement on Passing of Arthur N.R. Robinson.” News.gov.tt, 10 Apr. 2014, www.news.gov.tt/content/ccj-statement-passing-arthur-nr-robinson#.YM1EfqhKjIU. Accessed 17 Jun. 2021.
Pantin, Shane J. “In the Glare of Soft Light: Tales of a Turbulent Past Through the Lens of Time.” UWI Today, Jan. 2021, sta.uwi.edu/uwitoday/archive/january_2012/article17.asp. Accessed 18 Jun. 2021.
"Parliamentary Personalities – A.N.R. Robinson." YouTube, uploaded by Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago, 10 Apr. 2014, www.youtube.com/watch?v=oNbyDCyhphs. Accessed 24 Jun. 2021.
Pemberton, Rita, et al. Historical Dictionary of Trinidad and Tobago. Rowman & Littlefield, 2018. Google Books, books.google.tt/books?id=huhPDwAAQBAJ&pg=PA17&lpg=PA17&dq=anr+robinson+value+added+tax+Trinidad&source=bl&ots=fPf73w8nUK&sig=ACfU3U2skV3-KruqXFWgh0Gt5R-BxbHMhg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiz56qDrbDxAhUCUt8KHfi2A7QQ6AEwE3oECAUQAw#v=onepage&q=anr%20robinson%20value%20added%20tax%20Trinidad&f=false. Accessed 24 Jun. 2021.
“President Robinson was a True Caribbean Man – SG LaRocque.” News.gov.tt, www.news.gov.tt/content/president-robinson-was-true-caribbean-man-%E2%80%93-sg-larocque#.YM1ChahKjIU. Accessed 17 Jun. 2021.
“PM Douglas: “ANR Robinson showed mettle as leader and man during attempted coup”.” CARICOM Secretariat, 11 Apr. 2014, caricom.org/pm-douglas-anr-robinson-showed-mettle-as-leader-and-man-during-attempted-coup/. Accessed 24 Jun. 2021.
“Robinson on Failed 1990 Coup: T&T Saved from Destruction.” Trinidad & Tobago Guardian, 23 Nov. 2011, www.guardian.co.tt/article-6.2.455289.27093482a7. Accessed 26 May 2021.
Rowe, David J. “Caribbean History: Remembering ANR Robinson.” Caribbean Journal, www.caribjournal.com/2017/09/04/caribbean-history-remembering-anr-robinson/. Accessed 17 Jun. 2021.
“Search Results for Robinson, A.N.R. (Arthur, Napoleon Robinson).” NALIS, nalis.ent.sirsi.net/client/en_US/default/search/results?qu=Robinson%2C+A.N.R.+%28Arthur%2C+Napoleon+Robinson%29. Accessed 26 May 2021.
“Statement by the International Criminal Court on the passing of Arthur Robinson.” International Criminal Court, 9 Apr. 2014, www.icc-cpi.int/Pages/item.aspx?name=pr992. Accessed 17 Jun. 2021. Press Release.
“The Tobago Legacy.” UPdate Magazine, issue 2, Nov. 2014, pp. 11-12, www.tha.gov.tt/wp--content/uploads/2015/03/update-issue-2.pdf. Accessed 24 Jun. 2021.
United States. Congress. House. Committee on Ways and Means. Country Reports on Economic Policy and Trade Practices: Report Submitted to the Committee on Foreign Relations, Committee on Finance of the U.S. Senate and the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Committee on Ways and Means of the U.S. House of Representatives. U.S. Government Printing Office, 1992. Google Books, books.google.tt/books?id=E743AQAAMAAJ&dq=when+was+value+added+tax+introduced+in+trinidad+and+tobago+anr+robinson&source=gbs_navlinks_s. Accessed 24 Jun. 2021.
Information complied by: Leigh Shand, Librarian, Heritage Library Division