ARTHUR NAPOLEON RAYMOND ROBINSON (1926-2014)
On Wednesday 9th April, 2014 the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago mourned the loss of former President Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson who died at the age of eighty-seven. President Robinson holds the distinction of being the only person to serve in the capacity of Chairman, Tobago House of Assembly (1980-1986), Prime Minister (1986-1991) and President (1997-2003).
Mr. Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson was a former Prime Minister and President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and one of the most experienced parliamentarians in the Caribbean.
Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson was born in Calder Hall, Tobago, on December 16th, 1926. He attended the Castara Methodist School where his father was the Head Master. From there he was the first Bowles Scholar to Bishop’s High School, Tobago, in 1939, and later the first House scholarship winner from Bishop’s High School in 1942. Mr Robinson was married to the former Patricia Rawlins. They have two children David and Ann-Margaret.
In 1947, he obtained a BSc in Economics in London, and a Bachelor of Laws Degree (London University) as an external student in 1949. In 1953, he passed the Final Bar Exam at Inner Temple in London. That same year, he was admitted to St. John's College, Oxford, where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics and then a master’s degree in this same field of study. He was admitted to practice as a Barrister-at-Law in Trinidad and Tobago in 1955.
On his return to Trinidad and Tobago, he had the desire to change the social and economic conditions of his people and a desire to redress the negative effects of an outdated colonial status as a form of government. He recognized an urgent necessity for creating a strong political force, supported by the collective will of the people.
Mr Robinson has had a long and distinctive political career. In 1981, the DAC joined with the United Labour Front (ULF) and the Tapia House Movement to form the National Alliance, which later entered an accommodation with the Organisation for National Reconstruction (ONR) and won the 1983 Local Government elections. This victory led to the joining of these four parties to become the National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR) in 1985. When the NAR became the first party to defeat the PNM in the 1986 general election, Mr. Robinson became the third Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago for the period 1986-1990.
During his tenure, the Parliament was attacked by an armed group, and he and other members of Parliament were held hostage. Mr Robinson has represented the constituency of Tobago East in the House of Representatives since 1961 and was appointed Minister Extraordinaire and Adviser as part of UNC/NAR coalition government from November 1995 until his election as President. Mr. Robinson became the third President of the Republic, serving from March 19, 1997 to March 17, 2003.
Mr. Robinson’s political experience also extends to international matters.
As Prime Minister, Mr. Robinson was responsible for several regional initiatives, including the Caribbean Regional Economic Conference, the proposed Caribbean Court of Appeal and the West Indian Commission chaired by Sir Shridath Ramphal, former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth. He has also represented Trinidad and Tobago at many international conferences and at the United Nations where he has been acknowledged as a leading proponent of the International Criminal Jurisdiction since 1972 serving as consultant and Executive Director of the Foundation.
Mr. Robinson has also held the following positions: Representative of Trinidad and Tobago on the Council of the University of the West Indies; Director of Trinidad and Tobago's Industrial Development Corporation; Consultant to the United Nations Secretary-General on crime and the abuse of power; Director of the Foundation for the Establishment of an International Criminal Court (over 15 years); Vice-Chair of the International Council of the United Nations affiliated body "Parliamentarians for Global Action".
He has been the recipient of a number of other Honours and Awards:
- The Distinguished International Criminal Law Award from the Foundation for the Establishment of an International Criminal Court-UN Affiliate (1977)
- The Distinguished Human Development Award from the International Conference on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law-UN Affiliate (1983)
- Individual of the Year Award, Express Newspaper (1986);
- Distinguished Service Award and Presidential Medal of Honour and of Merit from California Lutheran University (1987)
- Senior Counsel, Legal Profession of Trinidad & Tobago (1988)
- Venezuela's highest award - the Order of the Liberator Simon Bolivar Award (1990)
- An Honorary Degree of Civil Laws from the Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria (1991)
- Title of Chief of Ile Ife by the Ooni of Ife, Nigeria (1991);
- Knight of the Order of St. John (1992)
- Trinidad and Tobago’s highest award, the Trinity Cross of the Order of the Trinity (1997)
- Defender of Democracy Award, Parliamentarians for Global Action, United Nations (1997)
- Order of the Caribbean Community (1998)
- Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws by the University of the West Indies (1998)
- Father of the Year Award, Guardian Newspaper (1999); Honorary Vice President, International Association of Penal Law (1999)
- Nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize (1999)
- Republic Day Award, Citizens for a Better Trinidad and Tobago (2000)
- Distinguished Peace Leadership Award, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (2002)
- The Order of Vasco Nunez de Balboa, Panama and a Scroll from the Association of Caribbean States (2005)
- Tribute award by the International Criminal Court (2008)
- The Crown Point International Airport in Tobago, was renamed “ANR Robinson International Airport” (2011).
- He was also a Freeman of the cities of Los Angeles (California), Thousand Oaks (California) and Caracas (Venezuela), an Honorary Fellow of St. John's College, (Oxford University), and a visiting scholar to the Harvard Law School, United States of America (USA).
Among his many publications are:
- The New Frontier and the New Africa (1961)
- The Mechanics of Independence (1971)
- Caribbean Man (1986)
- In the midst of it: autobiography of former President and former Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (2012)
“Airport renamed.” Guardian 20 May 2011: 9A. Print.
50th Anniversary of Independence Commemorative Special. Newsday 31 Aug. 2012: 67-68. Print.
Anthony, Michael. Historical Dictionary of Trinidad and Tobago. Lanham, Md: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1997. Print.
Bagoo, Andre. Robbie at peace with Pat. Newsday 10 Apr. 2014. Web. 10 Apr. 2014.
“Members of Past Parliaments: Arthur N.R. Robinson, Member for Tobago East.” ttparliament.org. Parliament of the Republic of Trinidad and
Tobago, 2008. Web. 20 Oct 2010.
Robinson, A.N.R. Caribbean Man: Speeches from a Political Career. Trinidad, W.I.: Lexicon Trinidad Ltd., 2001. Print.
Sydney, Albert WB. Oaths of Allegiance: A Biographical Profile of the Heads of State of the Commonwealth Caribbean.
Trinidad and Tobago: Albert WB Sydney, 2009. Print.
For additional Information see: The Trinidad and Tobago Parliament Website.