The Secretary General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), Mr. Kitack Lim has presented an award of honour to Dr. Kofi Mbiah for his distinguished service to the IMO for nearly two decades.
Dr Mbiah, who was stepping down as the Chairman of the Legal Committee of the IMO after 6 years in that role, received the award when the IMO boss held a farewell luncheon in honour of him at the IMO headquarters in London. The gesture was the first of its kind in the annals of the international maritime body, extended to an outgoing Chairman of any of its five Committees.
Addressing the luncheon, the Secretary General intoned that the holding of the luncheon in honour of Dr. Mbiah, was meant to provide the occasion to extol his virtues and to present him with a memento with which he will forever fondly remember the IMO.
Mr. Lim noted that considering the important contribution made by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Shippers’ Authority to the work of the IMO, coupled with his distinguished service, he thought it fit and proper that IMO recognizes his contribution in a special way.
Dr. Mbiah , who served as the sixth Chair of the Legal Committee of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) , is the first black man to have held that position.
Among the dignitaries present at the luncheon were Hon. Kwaku Ofori Asiamah, Minister of Transport; Mr. Paul Asare Ansah, Director General Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority; Mr. Damptey Asare, Ag. Ghana’s High Commissioner to the UK; Mrs. Azara Prempeh, Ghana’s Permanent Representative to the IMO and Mr. Fred Asiedu-Dartey, Acting Legal Advisor and Public Relations Manager of the Ghana Shippers’ Authority
Other dignitaries present at the luncheon were the Director Legal and External Relations Division of the IMO, Mr. Freddy Kenny; the Director of the International Oil Pollution and Compensation Funds (IOPC), Mr. Jose Mauria; the Chairman of the Marine Environment Protection Committee of the IMO, Mr. Arsenyo Dominguez; and the Chairman of the Facilitation Committee, Mr. Y Melanas.
The dignitaries took turns to recount fond memories of their experiences with Dr. Mbiah and more especially celebrated the grace with which he conducted himself as Chairman of the Legal Committee.
In a related development, the Secretary General of the IMO in a speech to mark the closing ceremony of the 104th Session of the Legal Committee – one of the main committees through which the IMO carries out its work, paid glowing tribute to Dr. Mbiah and recalled his contributions as a delegate to the Legal Committee several years ago. He said his contributions during debates in the Legal Committee depicted him as an astute legal luminary well versed in international maritime law.
Mr. Lim said before Dr. Mbiah was elected to the position of chairman of the Committee, he had made significant contributions to the work of IMO. He referred in particular to Dr. Mbiah’s work as Chairman of the Drafting Committee at the Diplomatic conference for the adoption of the 2002 Protocol to the Athens Convention on the carriage of Passengers and their luggage by sea. He noted that Dr. Mbiah was also chairman of the Drafting Committee at the Diplomatic Conference for the adoption of the 2010 Protocol to the International Convention on Liability and Compensation for the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by sea.
The Secretary General of IMO also indicated that amongst others, the Shippers’ Authority boss served as one of the Vice Presidents at the Diplomatic Conference for the adoption of the Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks 2007, and was chairman of Committee One at the 29th IMO Assembly. He said Dr. Mbiah’s work span several years in which he has made significant contribution to the work of IMO.
Commenting on his role as Chairman of the Legal Committee from 2010 to 2017, the Secretary General said: “I truly enjoy observing how you “operate” this podium; undeterred by even the most complex of legal issues, always giving everyone a fair hearing, and passionate to find a common ground even if the Committee is completely divided”
He also mentioned that Dr. Mbiah chaired the meetings of the Committee with dexterity and efficiency providing humour sometimes in very intractable debates.
Mr. Lim noted that during the chairmanship of Dr. Mbiah, “he worked tirelessly to facilitate the effective implementation of IMO’s Conventions emanating from the Legal Committee, and, as a matter of fact, the Athens Protocol entered into force in 2014 and the Nairobi Wreck Removal Convention entered into force in 2015, and the HNS Convention notably received, last week, its first ratification”.
The Secretary General also traced Dr. Mbiah’s academic path noting that having obtained a Masters in Marine Management and a Masters in Business Management,he studied for a Master of Laws at the International Maritime Law Institute (IMLI) where he graduated with distinction, and obtained a PhD in Maritime Administration from the World Maritime University (WMU). According to Mr. Lim, the fact that Dr. Mbiah studied at IMLI and WMU – both academic institutions owned by the IMO, makes him a real child of IMO.
“Beside his outstanding academic credentials and sterling career, Kofi strikes me as a very kind, approachable and generous person possessing a great sense of humour and charm, not to mention his power of persuasion, probably typical of a lawyer” Mr. Lim added.
Concluding his brief address, Mr. Lim noted: “We in the Secretariat have very much enjoyed working with you and we have benefitted from your outstanding leadership, always accompanied by a great sense of humour. You will be greatly missed”