Remembering Sir Alister McIntyre

The Government and people of Guyana are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of former Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary-General, Sir Meredith Alister McIntyre.  Born in St. Georges, Grenada, Sir Alister came to be known as one of the pre-eminent academics and intellectuals of the Caribbean, specialising in development and regional integration.

In 1974, he was appointed Secretary-General of CARICOM and thus began a distinguished career in regional and international politics. As an academic, Sir Alister gave yeoman service to the University of the West Indies where he lectured before becoming, in 1967, the Director of the Institute of Social and Economic Research. He also served as an Assistant Professor at both Princeton and Columbia University.  In 1988, he was appointed Vice-Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, a post that he held until his retirement in 1998.

Sir Alister was one of the three-member team of eminent Caribbean scholars that was appointed by CARICOM Heads of Government in  1990 to examine the state of regional integration, and the ensuing report — A Time for Action — in 1991, arguably began a process of regional introspection that resulted in the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas in 2001. This established the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME).

In 1989, he was appointed as the first Good Officer of the United Nations Secretary-General for the Guyana–Venezuela border controversy. He served with distinction until 1999 in efforts to resolve the controversy. Sir Alister had taken the opportunity of his posting to Georgetown as the CARICOM Secretary-General to acquaint himself with Guyana politics. So, he acquitted himself well in this assignment as Good Officer.

In 1975, he assisted the Government of Guyana in its quest to transform the economy. Along with William Demas, he served as adviser to the Restructuring Committee, which had been mandated to plan that transformation and, in 1977, produced a report edited by the late Haslyn Parris. The State Planning Act was subsequently passed in Parliament.

In 1980, McIntyre with a team including renowned Canadian Professor Gerry Heleiner

produced a report on Guyana’s Economic Recovery Programme. The report set out to explain why such a radical economic programme was required, its key elements and alternative options.

Sir Shridat Ramphal was the architect of that national initiative. Sir Alister, as Chief Technical Adviser, also teamed up with Sir Shridat to lay the foundations for what was undoubtedly the region’s best known and most formidable negotiating apparatuses, and a model for other developing countries/regions, the CRNM.

Before his appointment as UN Good Officer, Sir Alister also served the United Nations system as Director of the Commodities Division of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) as well as Deputy Secretary-General of that body. Furthermore, he later served as Assistant Secretary-General in the Office of the Director General for International Economic Cooperation at United Nations  Headquarters.

Among his numerous honours, which include several Honorary Degrees, Sir Alister was awarded the Order of the Caribbean Community (OCC); the Order of Merit (OM) of the Government of Jamaica, the Cacique Crown of Honour (CCH) of the Government of Guyana, and Knighthood by Her Majesty the Queen of England.

In December 2016, Sir Alister published “The Caribbean and The Wider World: Commentaries on My Life and Career”.  The book chronicles his extraordinary life and wide -ranging career in diplomacy, politics and academia.   It also outlined perspectives on the development of integration and regionalism in the Caribbean.

To the Region that nurtured him, in turn, he gave his life in selfless service and dedication, an invaluable contribution to the goal of the integration of its peoples and countries, in which he truly believed.

The Government and people of Guyana join the CARICOM fraternity in expressing heartfelt condolences to the family and relatives of Sir Alister and share the region’s grief at the passing of one of our most illustrious sons.