The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago has lost a national treasure today. His Excellency A.N.R. Robinson leaves an undeniable legacy of courage, persistent, good character and innovative leadership. Please enjoy the following excerpts on his life.

Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson (16 December 1926 – 9 April 2014) (known as A. N. R. (or Ray) Robinson), SC, OCC, TC was born in Calder Hall, Tobago) and was the third President of Trinidad and Tobago, serving from 19 March 1997 to 17 March 2003. He was also Trinida and Tobago’s third Prime Minister, serving in that capacity from 18 December 1986 to 17 December 1991. He is internationally recognized for his proposal that eventually led to the founding of the International Criminal Court.

President Robinson was the first active politician to be elected to the Presidency, and was the first presidential candidate who was not elected unopposed (the Opposition People’s National Movement (PNM) nominated Justice Anthony Lucky as its candidate for President). President Robinson sparked controversy in his term in office when he refused to appoint certain Senators recommended by the Prime Minister Basdeo Panday following the elections in 2000 and in 2001 when he appointed the Leader of the Opposition Patrick Manning to the position of Prime Minister after a tied election.

Robinson was elected to the Federal Parliament of the defunct Caribbean Federation in 1958 and to the Trinidad and Tobago Parliament as a representative for Tobago in 1961. He served as the first Minister of Finance of Trinidad and Tobago after Independence and later as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

He broke with the PNM party following the Black Power disturbances in 1970 and founded the Action Committee of Democratic Citizens (ACDC). In conjunction with the Democratic Labour Party, Robinson led the ill-fated “No-vote” campaign of 1971. This campaign protested the use of voting machines which the Opposition DLP considered to be used for election fraud in the 1961 and 1966 elections. Following the election, Robinson founded the Democratic Action Congress (DAC) which won the two Tobago seats in the 1976 and 1981 elections, but which failed to make credible headway in any constituencies in Trinidad.

In 1981 Robinson joined forces with the United Labour Front (ULF) under the leadership of Basdeo Panday and the Tapia House Movement under the leadership of Lloyd Best to form the National Alliance. This group entered an Accommodation with the Organisation for National Reconstruction under the leadership of Karl Hudson-Phillips to fight (and win) the Local Government elections of 1983. Building on this victory the four parties combined to form the National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR) which won the 1986 elections by a margin of 33-3 and Robinson was appointed the first non-PNM Prime Minister.

Prior to the 1986 elections Robinson was instrumental in setting up the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) and was its chairman from December 1980 to 16 December 1986. This local government entity was established in 1980 to strengthen the position of Tobago within the unitary state of Trinidad and Tobago. His party, the DAC (and later the NAR), controlled the THA from 1980 until 2001, when the PNM gained control of the body.

During the 1990 coup d’état attempt by the Jamaat al Muslimeen the Prime Minister Robinson and much of his Cabinet were held hostage for six days by gunmen under the leadership of Yasin Abu Bakr. When instructed to order the army to stop firing on the Red House (the seat of Parliament where they were held hostage) Robinson instead instructed them to “Attack with full force”, an action that earned him a severe beating from his captors. He was also shot in his leg.[3]


In 1989, during the 44th Session of the UN General Assembly, he proposed the creation of a permanent international court to deal with the transnational drug trade. This eventually led to the inauguration of the International Criminal Court in 2002, commissioned to hear cases of crimes against humanity. He has received many honours for this achievement.

In May 2011 for his great service to this country, the airport in Tobago was renamed the A.N.R. Robinson International Airport, replacing the name “Crown Point International Airport”.[4][5]

In November 2011, A. N. R. Robinson was the recipient of Tobago’s highest award, the Tobago Medal of Honour.[6][7]

He is an Honorary Councillor of the World Future Council.

During the investiture of President Thomas Boni Yayi of Benin as a titled Yoruba chieftain on 20 December 2008, the reigning Ooni of Ile-Ife, Nigeria, Olubuse II, referred to President Robinson and his wife as previous recipients of the same royal honour.

(Excerpts from )

– S.J.


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