Caribbean scholar Norman Girvan is dead

Norman Girvan of Jamaica dies at age 72.
Photo courtesy of the OAS

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed “deep sadness” at the death of prominent Caribbean academic, Professor Norman Girvan, of Jamaica, who had been his personal representative on the border controversy between Guyana and Venezuela since April 2010.

In a statement issued by his spokesperson on April 10, Ban hailed Girvan as “one of the most distinguished Caribbean scholars of his time.”

“He was particularly devoted to the promotion of regional integration in the Caribbean and Latin America,” he said. “This commitment earned him the respect and admiration of the entire region.”

The U.N. chief expressed gratitude for Girvan’s contribution to the “U.N. good offices process between Guyana and Venezuela.”

At issue is the disputed Essequibo region, which, since 1899, has functioned as a territory administered by Guyana but is claimed by Venezuela.

“The progress achieved during his tenure was acknowledged by the Heads of State of Guyana and Venezuela and is part of his impressive legacy,” Ban said.

Girvan died in Cuba on April 9, three months after he became paralyzed following a fall while hiking on Dominica. He was 72.

He was also the former secretary general of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) and Professor Emeritus of the University of the West Indies (UWI).

Girvan had also served as a board member of the South Center and, since 2009, was a member of the United Nations Committee on Development Policy.

Additionally, he served as Professor of Development Studies and Director of the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies at UWI and head of the National Planning Agency of the Government of Jamaica.

Girvan was in the vanguard of efforts to get the Dominican Republic reverse a Constitutional Court ruling that stripped more than 210,000 Haitians born in the Dominican Republic of their citizenship.

In December last year, he co-signed a letter to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), on behalf of the International Relations Institute (IIR) at UWI, saying the new law had the potential to de-nationalize hundreds of thousands of people.

CARICOM Secretary General, Irwin LaRocque, has also expressed regret at the passing of the noted Caribbean academic.

LaRocque, in a statement, said Girvan’s work was underlined by unremitting dedication to a vision of an integrated Caribbean.

“His ideas and ideals placed him in the upper echelons of Caribbean intellectuals,” he said.

“His service as main author of ‘Towards a Single Development Vision and the Role of the Single Economy’, a visionary document to guide the development of the Caribbean Community, was a prime example of the commitment that Professor Girvan had to his region”, added LaRocque, stating that the Caribbean has lost a true icon.

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