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Statement by the CARICOM Secretary-General on the passing of former Barbados Prime Minister Owen Arthur


It is with deep regret that I learnt of the passing of Professor Owen Arthur, the former Prime Minister of Barbados.

CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque (left) shares a light moment with the former Barbados Prime Minister Owen Arthur

During his tenure as Prime Minister for an unprecedented three consecutive terms from 1994 to 2008, Professor Arthur used his considerable intellect and economic skill to further the development of Barbados and the Region. His devotion to his native Barbados resulted in his tenure being the longest among Barbadian Prime Ministers.

He was a strident regionalist and a relentless advocate for the advancement of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME). As then CARICOM Lead Head of Government for the CSME, he worked very closely with the CARICOM Secretariat in efforts to advance the process. In that regard, he was instrumental in the establishment of a Secretariat Office in Barbados dedicated to the initiative. He also worked assiduously to encourage the private sector to become more engaged in the work to make the CSME a lived reality.

Professor Arthur was a strong advocate of functional co-operation which he viewed as fundamental for the success of the integration movement. As Chair of CARICOM, he was the driving force behind the Needham Point Declaration of 2007, which positioned functional co-operation both as a priority and one of the principal means of distributing benefits among the Members of the Community.

Professor Arthur continued his interest in the development of CARICOM and the integration process after demitting office. In 2010, he produced a major study for the Community on the “Integration of Belize and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) into the CSME”.

During his mission to Guyana to observe the Elections last March, he found the time to visit the Secretariat Headquarters, where I engaged with him once again. Our discussions about the Community and the CSME demonstrated his on-going passion and concerns for the Region.

His commitment to regionalism has been maintained with his work at the University of the West Indies (UWI), as Professor of Practice: Economics of Development and more recently as Chairman of the Board of LIAT.

From his student days at the UWI to his untimely passing, Professor Arthur has been an unstinting champion of the Region and of integration.

On behalf of the Community, its Secretariat and on my own behalf, I extend heartfelt condolences to his wife Julie, his children, and to you Prime Minister, and the Government and People of Barbados. The country and the Region have lost a most eminent son.”

27 July 2020

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