Liberia Voted Off IMO Member Council

One of the ships on international waters flying Liberian flag.

What happened and what it means for the world’s 2nd largest shipping registry

Liberia has lost its coveted seat on the 40-member Council of the International Maritime Organization, relegating the country to floor membership and a demoted level of influence in the world maritime body. The IMO is the United Nations’ specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.

in a brief statement on LinkedIn, the Chairman of the Liberia Maritime Authority, Dr. James F. Kollie, said: “We fought a great fight today at the IMO but we lost. Liberia will not be on Council this biennial (2020 to 2021). However, we will put the pieces together and return for another fight. Hats off to the London team and all those who supported us.”

The Council is the executive organ of IMO and is responsible, under the Assembly, for supervising the work of the Organization.

Between sessions of the Assembly, the Council performs all the functions of the Assembly, except that of making recommendations to Governments on maritime safety and pollution prevention. The 40-member Council is divided into three categories — A, B and C — according to the magnitude of Members’ technical capacity

Partly helped by her status as the world’s second largest shipping registry, Liberia has since 2012 enjoyed its coveted erstwhile position in the Council’s Category C. This category comprises 20 states with special interests in maritime transport or navigation and whose election to the Council will ensure the representation of all major geographic areas of the world. However in this year’s Council election, Liberia was the only country voted out of its Category and one of two countries voted out in the entire process. Liberia, being one of the five African countries on the Council (all of them in Category C), was replaced by Kuwait.

Category C Member States that were retained on the Council are Bahamas, Belgium, Chile, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, Peru, the Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand and Turkey.

The only other member state voted off the Council was Sweden (Category B), replaced by Argentina. Category B comprises 10 states with the largest interest in international seaborne trade. Other states in this category include Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Arab Emirates.

The Assembly of the International Maritime Organization has elected the following States to be Members of its Council for the 2020-2021 biennium:

Category A, however, comprises 10 States with the largest interest in providing international shipping services, all of which retained their spots on the Council. They are: China, Greece, Italy, Japan, Norway, Panama, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, United States.

‘Tight ship’

Liberia has had a seat on the IMO Council since 2012, during he administration of then President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. At the time, the country was rising on a tidal wave of renewed vigor in global maritime affairs. This was due not only to the size of its shipping registry and significant increments in the registry’s gross tonnage, but great efforts were being made to enhance ship and port safety. That, and with intense lobbying, how could the nation with the world’s second largest shipping registry not have a seat on the Council?

In 2012, Liberia won her seat on the 40-member Council with 112 votes. Retaining that seat for another three terms (2 years per term), Liberia earned an impressive 117 votes in 2017, securing the country’s reputation as an influential member of the Council.

During the period, the Liberia shipping registry reached a high of 4,400 active vessels with170 million gross tons.

Needless to say, the Liberia Maritime program ran a ‘tight ship’ until things got political back home around the middle of 2018 that led to the colossal displacement of the country in the global maritime sector.

Turbulence over Tenure

It can be recalled that since June 2018, during the infancy of the Administration of President George M. Weah the government, in its attempt to secure high-profile political appointments for some of its supporters, ran into a turbulent dispute with the country’s Permanent Mission of Liberia to the IMO, seated in London, UK, which the President tried to replace. The issue, which went viral on news and social media, quickly raised the president’s ire against tenured positions, which the Permanent Mission to the IMO was protected by. As the President refused to relent on the issue, the matter ended up at the Supreme Court of Liberia, which mandated the Government to back off and all the Permanent Mission to function.

Similar issue ensued between the President and the Executive Director of the Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (LEITI), in which the President ordered the Executive Director, which was a tenured position, to be changed by one of the President’s own choosing — a violation of the LEITI mandate. Months later, when Liberia became threatened with being delisted from the global EITI community, the President was constrained to correct his mistake.

Though Liberia did not get delisted from the IMO, similar damage has been done to the company’s reputation as a result of the President’s stubborn persistence against the sanctity of tenured positions. Since he ordered a halt to the transfer of funds needed to operate the Permanent Mission to the IMO and refused to have the Government approve the diplomatic passport for the head of the Permanent Mission, the officer’s functions came to a standstill, with no room to pursue Liberia’s maritime interests with friendly nations. The Permanent Mission, according to reports, has not been paid for over 10 months.

Nevertheless, the Permanent Mission has continued to drive the country’s cause, leading key efforts at the Council level of the IMO. Among them was the motion proffered by Liberia to expand the IMO Council from 40 members to 52, given that the IMO membership had proportionally expanded now to 173 nations. The Liberian Permanent Mission also support a move by Australia to expand the tenure of the Council from two years to four years. Both landmark moves were endorsed by the IMO’s Technical Working Group and must pass through a process of working out details before being finally enacted into iMO policy. Liberia has indeed been making strides that affect the very workings of the IMO.


in the Council election on Friday, November 29, 2019, Liberia, once a vibrant Council Member State, came 24th out of 24 member states vying for a place in the Council’s Category C. Barely scraping 100 votes, the country also surrendered yet another seat of the African states on the Council to one from the Middle East.

Without a seat at the Council, a member state cannot influence critical decisions at the IMO. As a mere floor member, Liberia will now have to rely on the graces of friendly nations to speak on its behalf.

With out a seat at the IMO Council, Liberia’s influence in the global maritime sector has been diminished. The country will no long be able to decide who serves as secretary general of the IMO. SG is beholden to the Council.

Also, Liberia’s double capacity as a council member and as the world’s second largest shipping registry made it a force to contend with. Now, without council membership Liberia can no longer be able to influence regulation that will affect the ship owners and influence other critical decisions in the maritime sector.

Every two years, more than 170 member countries meet at the IMO assembly in London to elect members of its governing council. The newly elected Council will meet, following the conclusion of the 31st Assembly for its 123rd session (on Thursday, December 5), and will elect its chair and vice-chair for the next biennium.”

Until 2021, Liberia will be wallowing in shallow waters, waiting for a chance to prove itself at the place where it matters more — the Council. And when that time comes, who knows whether the conditions will be the same?


  1. Just the beginning of the demotion to come.
    In the heart of the war, Liberia was on the Council.
    Now in peace time under our most celebrated and iconic footballer who did not dive or cheat to get a goal, Liberia is off the Council, Quel gâchis!

    • So according to you Dolo, it is also “Just the beginning of the demotion to come” for Sweden? Why do you people allow these incompetent editors here in Liberia mislead you people with their journalisticly illiterate politicized headlines? Not acquiring a given required vote does not mean an entity, an individual, nor a country, is demoted. Democracy does not work that way.

      What we as a people should inter alia be worried about is sections of our media outsets been under the instructions of corrupt guys as Alex Cummings and Benoni Urey who have either been aways from home for all their lives (eg. Alex Cummings) or have looted our economy (eg. Benoni Urey), and now want to dominate national politics overnight when they have done nothing for this country.

      • Garsuah,

        Respect the editors of this press agency. They are doing fantastic job for Liberia. I am objectively kept abreast of things happening back home because of them.

        I will not comment on things you have said about Urey.
        One of our constitutional requirements was to have graduated from high school in Liberia. Cummings did graduate from high school in Liberia, obtained his first degree from the Cuttington University College. Due to the war, he had to work outside all his life.
        Why will you blame him for staying out all this time? You wanted him to have come and joined one of your warring factions to know if he loves Liberia? No brother. He showed his love at different levels, in fact that’s why he resigned his lucrative job to help his country. How many Liberians in his position would have resigned?

        No back to the topic. Do you know the weight of your country in international maritime history? Do you know the number of ships that hoist your flag? Will you agree that your country that was maintained on the council even during the dire moments of our history be removed under a democratically elected president?
        I couldn’t have accepted to lose that battle as a president.

        • Dolo, keep quiet! You know nothing! What proves this are such false and backward thoughts coming from out of you; such as:

          :”One of our constitutional requirements was to have graduated from high school in Liberia.”

          Is this what your Cummings told you?

          • Garsuah, Garsuah, Garsuah.

            If I could write Mano or Gio ro any vernacular you can speak, I could have written my point of view for you in that dialect.

            You don’t tell people “you lie”. Learn to express yourself better.

  2. Wow! Things aren’t looking too good for us in this area at the present time. But, let’s look at this sad incident as a teachable moment. Let’s quickly put our act together. Hopefully, we’ll get back into business as soon as possible. In order for us to get there, some radical changes are needed. We can do it.


  3. What has the so called “coveted seat on the 40-member Council of the International Maritime Organization” done for Liberia from Charles Taylor to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf? Did it decrease inequality and economic stagnation suffered By the poor – the majority? Did this so called coveted seat close the gap between the fortunes of the elites (eg Benoni Urey, Joseph Boakai solen wealth) and the majority – the poor?

    No! This so called “coveted seat on the 40-member Council of the International Maritime Organization” done for Liberia from Charles Taylor to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has only increase the stolen wealth of Benoni Urey, Charles Taylor, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and their stooges!

    Hence, Kenneth Best and his nephew Rodney Sieh should realize that this so called “coveted seat” has only been a facilatator to stifle growth, exacerbate malaise, and make the situation worse since this IMO Council seat only fattens the bank accounts of the likes of Benoni Urey, Charles Taylor, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, and their stooges over the years.

    • We know it has practically never benefited the poor and the needy Liberians. We know who have been and still benefiting from it.
      We know the high degree of corruption in the country. But we must maintain it under Liberia. Those who have misappropriated thereof will surely be brought to book, sooner or later but it should stay within our international asset.

      Give us (Cummings and apologists) just 6 years to set many things straight in Liberia. We beg you Liberians.
      We (Liberia) are rich. We have money everywhere, but a handful of people take it for theirs whilst the poor suffer mercilessly.

  4. Petearus Dolo, forget about this talk about Alex Cummings. That childish political toddler is not competent for the presidency, and is a very dishonest rascal. For a man who goes around lying and buying politicians and news outlets to propel him to the presidency, he is not worth the dirt he steps on nor a dog´s vomit!

    Cummings proves his ignorance, incompetence, and selfishness, By simply just believing someone can jist come from abroad and bribe his way to the seat of power. He is a big fool added to his failed stupidity in financing plots of treason and sedition to destabalize the country.!

    • First and foremost, the person behind this name is NEITHER a Kou NOR a female from Nimba. Our ladies a respectful and highly reserved.

      Secondly, stop the profanities if you want to continue exchanging with me. I can exchange with anyone but not disrespectful and ill-mannered people.

      Thirdly and lastly, I once warned you about these allegations. Once again, whosoever is hiding behind this name, we may find you and file a lawsuit against you for “character assassination” or calumny.

      Thank you.

    • Kou Gontee, are you saying that our idiotic president didn’t come from abroad to hustle his way to the presidency? You must be kidding right. Was Weah in Liberia during our civil war?

      • Garyewhalah, did you not hear Cummings himself admitting in print and broadcast media that he was rejected by both the electorate and the selectorate because he “jumped cue”, hence is unknown by voters?

        Taking into context the overall situation from 1990 to 2005, a candidate really SERIOUS about winning the presidential election needed not to have been permanently resident in Liberia nor domiciled in any of the political subdivisions of Liberia to be accepted by voters or the constitutional requirement on the 10 years residency clause.

        But at least, a presidential candidate had to be popularly known throughout the country!

        And this is why George Weah, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and Prince Johnson were bound to be the frontrunners or stars they were in the 2005 elections.

        And this is why Cummings had to confess as to why he was rejected. And this is why his own COP AND CPP erstwhile ally Benoni Urey reminded him about his OBVIOUS REJECTION again in his fantasy to become president – an illusion bound to end up for him a mirage.

        • So I guess our idiotic president won the election based on popularity and not qualification. So I guess the only qualification one needs to be president in Liberia be on the ground………and you would be elected even if you are a buffoon. Now I see why Liberians keep on electing corrupt recycled Politicians. And because of this attitude of Liberians, hence our sufferings and our country the worst on the African continent when it comes to every measurement of economic, political, social and democratic measurement.

  5. Petarus Dolo, you are not from Nimba. You are simply a fraud And I care less about that! Whether you believe I am from Nimba or not, is irrelevant, since you are simply a fraud. You should be very glad I comment to your silly nonesense you post around here.

    Go and ask Ellen Johnson Sirleaf about me. She knows me! I worked with the World Bank when she worked there, and also at the UN. In fact, people who have been commenting on this site can tell you that I have long been commenting on this site before the Liberian people ever heard about that hypocrite and criminal Alex Cummings or your fake and ignorant self.

  6. This getting rediculous, if it hasn’t been from
    the beginning. Being argumentative over a person who’s had no governmental leadership experience is not a good way to vouch for a person. People could be turned off. Weah will serve out his six-year term irrespective of how some people can’t wait to install a yoyo in there.

  7. Should be, “this is getting rediculous”. Believe it or not, the linking verb “is” was added in there. Somehow, it slipped out.

  8. Everybody is entitled to his or her opinion! If a commenter feels that any potential presidential candidate is a fraud, that’s his or her opinion. By the way, in this court of public opinion, commenters’ viewpoints should be respected whether one agrees or not. If a commenter dislikes a particular yahoo who is known by many as a seller of “sleaze and slime”, that should be understood. We can agree to disagree. That’s a simple, but realistic fact of life.

    Commenters who operate on this media space would like to see, read and respond to good journalistic viewpoints, not every day childish arguments about the perfection of a mortal being. In other words, good commenters want good politics! Most educated commenters do not want to dwell on the topic of individuals who are politically untested.

  9. Kou,
    You couldn’t have said it better. Someone who has never served in Government to know what it takes to be led and be of service to that person, now wants to jump straight to the Presidency. What are the steps or chain of command in governmental leadership that Cummings followed to be awarded the Liberian Presidency ?

  10. Thanks for the correction, Haijah Swaray. Mistakes are never intended to be made. Mistakes are there to be made. Mistakes are not allowed to be made. No one gives you permission to make mistakes!

    I made a mistake. I am not proud to say thanks.
    Why spelling your last name, I had to re-write it twice. I spelled it correctly, but the stupid computer gave a different spelling. Had I not done a re-read, I probably would have gotten a longer hmmmmmmmm from you.

    Have a great day.

  11. Costa and CO are desperately beating drums of commotion causing public safety anxieties for an already long-suffering vast majority downtrodden abandoned in pervasive poverty by an arrogant EJS-led vampiric government during times of plenty and willful wanton waste.

    But instead of reporting and educating us, partisan media outlets under the aegis of FPA and Daily Observer that merged in 2018 to influence anti-establishment sentiments via misinformation, continue rabble-rousing. And with funds allegedly flowing from foreign covert aggression agents, they’ve created a scary situation where their paymasters are secretly empowering Costa, Dillon, Kolubah and the CPP toward a “Step Down” campaign anticipated will lead to confrontation and violence. It informs this audacious article about a “colossal disappointment” as a result of the President’s so- called “persistence against the sanctity of tenured positions”.

    In other words, GMW should be a spectator despite Chapter 1, Article 1 of the constitution which states “In order to ensure democratic government,… the people shall have the right as provided for under this constitution to cause their public servants to leave office and to fill vacancies by regular election and appointments…” Yeah right, this reporter wants him to keep EJS’s appointees through a bogus tenure approved by legislators she dashed bonanza compensation packages while there were no first aid kits in medical facilities when Ebola brought misery and death.

    Of course, agent provocateurs in the press – licking their paws for a big payday when foreign covert aggression agents-directed plot to repeat April 14, 1979 or worse succeed – are happy about a feature of the regime change plans going swimmingly. I’m talking about economic sabotage starting with EJS flooding of the market with local currency thus triggering inflation, and foreign covert agents clandestinely buying up local currency to cause scarcity while they instruct their assets in the Legislature to oppose infusion of urgently needed new currency. The net effect is to increase the number of disgruntled people who will be out on December 30. That’s the same strategy used some months ago in Venezuela during attempts to overthrow another elected government.

    However, it’s hard to totally blame the conspirators trying to provoke confrontation and the consequent chaos to our country in the face of paralysis of a government which failed to proactively act for stability and safety of our people. For instance, upon taking over, President Weah should’ve replaced all past officials in the economic and security sectors. As a matter of fact, President Bio used an executive order to replace all so-called tenured appointees with the retort that he wasn’t elected by the people to retain hires of the same regime they voted out for mismanaging the economy. Little wonder, then, that his country passed the Millennium Challenge Scorecard which Liberia failed. And here we’ve politicos with press badges having the audacity to write crap about keeping the hires of EJS who used the very Maritime as her personal ATM. Daily Observer should check US FARA Report about the hundreds of millions of dollars she supposedly paid to a lobbying firm.

    “To be forewarned, is to be forearmed”, and the Krios in Sierra Leone say, “Da fowl way nor yerry (hear) sheee, ee go yerry stone” – pelted with rocks.

    • For once, someone is making some sense here.
      Beware, the ides of March.

      Don’t worry, there will be a peaceful transition.

    • Sylvester Moses, not only the security and economic sectors; but also, CERTAIN PORTFOLIOS WITHIN THE FOREIGN MISSIONS SECTOR! Did you see the extremely wicked and foolish hypocrisy and undermining of Lewis Browne , Gabriel Williams, Conteh, etc???

  12. Well, our so-called James Kollie is busy stealing at the LMA. That’s what happens when you have an unqualified head of an organization and a president that is very vindictive. Kollie’s excuse that Liberia lost because other countries lobbied the IMO ahead of the elections is baseless. Liberia has been elected since 2012.

  13. My people, leave this Kou person alone.
    S/he will answer questions one of these days in the court of law for calumny.

    Know that we have found that the name KOU GONTEE doesn’t exist anywhere in person and in Liberia. As I promised you, we will unmask you.

  14. The Liberian government will show you zero development, they had made to improve the ports or navigational capabilities.
    I have visited sannoe county i love the weather but, the port capacity is so small.

  15. Kou Gontee is alive and well. Furthermore, Gontee had said over and over again, that
    she worked at the World Bank with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Now, does that sound as if Kou Gontee is a fictional character? We ought to be respectful of each other’s views. Not every human being is persuadable to your cause. If you try your level best to recruit or entice someone, and if you cannot win that person over, go on to the next level. You do not have magical or demonic powers, I hope. Calm yourself down a little bit, gentleman. You may have a tactical disagreement with some commenters on this blog, but there’s no reason to be confrontational. Just calm down. The world is too small; don’t create enemies for yourself savior and yourself.

    • Life is all about risks. They have killed thousands and may continue to murder innocent people. My job is to speak out my mind freely, uphold the values that Christ recommends for a peaceful and civilized society.
      While I respect other people’s views, I will strongly reject any profanities and calumnies towards a respectful and respectable man I have thrown my weight behind to save our beloved country.
      I was never a rebel and will never become a rebel. I want to live in a decent society to bring up my children and grandchildren confidently.

      To conclude, we will not relent until death do us part. Even you, old man, you have threatened me twice. I have not forgotten that. The world, I know is a small place and so I am willing to defend my statements anywhere.

      Kou or whosoever behind this name, we have enough information on you now. Do not be afraid. We do not have arms to resort to reprisal attacks. Normal life must begin in Liberia; a life whereby you will be recompensed based on merit and hard work. Don’t panic, Cummings will not turn you people over the ICC or any jurisdiction. We will concentrate on improving the lives of our people.
      However, if you committed war crimes, you may be picked up somewhere else, not in Liberia, rest assured. Stop the calumny and be calm. The only thing that can stop us is violence, which is improbable in Liberia now. Don’t even think about anything of such.

  16. Liberia is broken and needs to be built.
    Only the best of our educated with the needed KnowHows can move that country forward.
    God bless.


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