World Maritime University gets first female President


The International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the World Maritime University (WMU) have announced the appointment of a new President to head the University.

Dr. Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, who has dual Dominican and Swiss nationality, is currently Director of the International Labour Standards Department, of the International Labour Office of the International Labour Organization (ILO).  She is expected to assume office as WMU President, in Malmö, Sweden, in July.

Koji Sekimizu, IMO Secretary-General, who is also Chancellor of WMU, announced Dr. Doumbia-Henry’s appointment as he welcomed students at the start of the new semester at the WMU in Malmö.

“Dr. Doumbia-Henry has served the UN system with distinction for many years and as Director of the International Labour Standards Department of the ILO she was instrumental in developing and working with governments and the shipowners’ and seafarers’ organizations to help ensure effective national legal implementation of the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006. She has had a longstanding commitment to the maritime sector and to education, beginning with her doctoral research on IMO Conventions.

“In addition, she has an excellent knowledge of the needs of developing countries and the difficulties which they may encounter in implementing and enforcing the provisions of maritime transport related multilateral treaties.

“I am delighted that we have been able to secure such a distinguished and able individual to steer the WMU as it embarks on a new and exciting era and I wish her, and the University, every success in the future,” Mr. Sekimizu said.

Dr. Doumbia-Henry was heavily involved in the development of the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006. Since the late 1990s, she has been leading the ILO participation in a number of IMO/ILO interagency collaborations on several issues of common interest to IMO and ILO, including the Joint IMO/ILO Ad Hoc Expert Working Groups on Fair Treatment of Seafarers and on Liability and Compensation regarding Claims for Death, Personal Injury and Abandonment of Seafarers.

Sekimizu also thanked Professor Neil Bellefontaine, who has served as acting President since June 2014.

The appointment of Dr. Doumbia-Henry followed a rigorous competitive process carried out by a panel chaired by Mr. Koji Sekimizu, WMU Chancellor. Dr. Doumbia-Henry will be taking over from Professor Neil Bellefontaine, WMU Vice President (Academic), who has been Acting WMU President since June 2014 following the departure of Dr. Björn Kjerfve.

Dr. Doumbia-Henry will be the seventh WMU president and will be the first female in the role as well as the first President from a developing country.

The role of the WMU President is to manage the University, under the direction of its Board of Governors, the Executive Board and the Chancellor, who set the policies within the framework of the WMU Charter.—Ships and Ports