Jessica Byron-Reid is from Saint Kitts and Nevis (SKN) in the Eastern Caribbean. She pursued undergraduate and initial graduate studies at the University of the West Indies (UWI), the latter taking place at the Institute of International Relations, established in 1966 with support from the Swiss Confederation and the Institut universitaire de hautes études internationales, where she completed her PhD in 1990.
Her doctoral dissertation on the roles played by regional groupings in Southern African and Central American conflict management in the early 1980s stimulated her long-term interest in the value of regional cooperation for small states.
Jessica’s professional journey has been a mix of working for national and regional governments largely in the spheres of diplomacy or education, and for international and regional universities.
She initially worked in a nascent SKN Ministry of External Affairs, then moved to London to work for the Eastern Caribbean High Commission, where she learned about national and regional policymaking/implementation and about the diplomatic dynamics of Caribbean small island developing states (SIDS), particularly in the Commonwealth, European Union and UN circuits.
Jessica returned to full-time academia in 1990, moving to The Hague to teach, research and help with the International Institute of Social Studies’ graduate programme in International Relations’ administration.
She also contributed to foreign policy training workshops at the Clingendael Institute – a period of tremendous growth for her.
In 1994 Jessica returned to the Caribbean to teach international relations and in 2016 was appointed as the Director of the Institute of International Relations at UWI Trinidad.
She has been consistently engaged in teaching and research collaborations with universities and colleagues in the Greater Caribbean, notably in the French Caribbean, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela and the Guianas.
For the past 30 years, she has been involved in the training and development of large numbers of Caribbean professionals in international relations and related fields. She has also worked individually and with several global and hemispheric research and advocacy networks as well as multilateral organisations to contribute to knowledge production by increasing the volume of research-based publications on the Caribbean, Latin America and SIDS.
Over the years, she learned of the value of working with both state and non-state bodies for an international relations graduate, as well as nurturing relationships in the policy world, academia and other areas of civil society.
This article was published in Globe #27, the Graduate Institute Review | Spring 2021