Professor Nigel Harris of the University of the West Indies, who is attending the 30th Caricom Summit of Heads of Government, yesterday, told local and regional media operatives that successful regional integration was crucial to its success in that no one country could full achieve its pinnacle by itself.
He emphasised that it was an issue to be dealt with more effectively by the political leaders but as an academic his own view was that the region was a broad demographic that shares deep history and cultural links.
He noted that in the region the countries were so small that in no instance will a single country be able to lift itself developmentally.
“Within that context one would want to support broader participation and broader integration.”
He said that the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) was already a working entity and with Trinidad’s addition, given its resources, would seem like a good opportunity. “(But) I think everybody is committed to a broader integration process across Caricom.”
Professor Harris said that the different groups within the regions such as the OECS and the Bolivarian Alternative for Latin America (ALBA) would not fracture CARICOM. There remains a solid working relationship between the leadership of the Caribbean.
He posited that despite the smaller circles in the long term there is the understanding of the need for strong ties.
He said, too, that the UWI must be utilized as a regional resource for regional development given that it provides access to broad expertise across the region like no other institute and could be applied to every single nation within the region.
The eminent professor had pleaded with the caucus yesterday for the establishment of a research development fund that would target areas such as food security, agriculture, alternative energy, disaster risk reduction and crime and security among others.
He noted that UWI has already taken on the task but was in dire need of increased funding.
A Guyanese by birth, Professor Harris was previously Dean and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, USA.
He is currently Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies to which he took a wealth of experience both as an administrator, academician and researcher.
He is internationally known for his work as a Rheumatologist.
With colleagues in London, he helped to define a disorder which they called the Antiphospholipid Syndrome and devised a diagnostic test (the anticardiolipin test) for it. For this work he shared with Dr Graham Hughes and Dr Aziz Gharavi of Hammersmith Hospital the Ceiba-Geigy Prize.
Over 150 papers, editorials, reviews and chapters on this subject have been published by Professor Harris.
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