Port Security Conference

April 3, 2003

Mbanefo lobbies to succeed IMO's O'Neil
When the Council of IMO, the International Maritime Organization, meets in London, June 16-20, agenda items will include the appointment of a new Secretary General. Election is by majority vote of the 40 nations on the IMO Council, subject to approval by the entire Assembly of 162 nations.

Hoping to succeed William A. O'Neil in this key position is Monica Mbanefo.

According to a release from a London public relations agency, she is gathering support for her bid and a "substantial number of the 162 member states of IMO have already declared their support for her."

Mbanefo is currently Director of the Conference Division of IMO.

"IMO is at a critical point in its development," the press release quotes her as saying, "and it is important for the whole maritime world that the Secretary-General who follows Bill O'Neil's successful period in office should combine both experience of the maritime world and demonstrable competence in running a large specialized UN agency. I'm proud that the African Union has proposed me as a candidate for the post and pleased at the degree of international support I have received already."

The public relations firm issuing the release, Merlin Corporate Communications, has a number of marine industry clients, including LISCR, the Liberian International Ship and Corporate Register, which holds the franchise to run the Liberian ship registry.

A qualified barrister, Mbanefo worked for the Federal Ministry of Justice of Nigeria from 1973 - 1991, drafting laws and representing Nigeria in various international organizations. In 1991 she was appointed Senior Deputy Director/Head of the Legal Office of IMO. In this capacity she was Secretary to the IMO Legal Committee and to several diplomatic conferences which, amongst other things, led to the successful adoption of the 1992 CLC and Fund Protocols, the HNS Convention and the Arrest of Ships 1999 Convention.

Mbanefo, says the Merlin release, "restructured the Legal Office of IMO to improve its efficiency, and in 1999 was promoted to Director, Conference Division. She is now in charge of over one third of IMO's staff, and for the last four years has focused on strengthening and reinforcing efficiency throughout the organization."

The release concludes:"Supporters of Mbanefo say that, in addition to her managerial skills, which will benefit efficiency at IMO, she has the ability to unite member states and so improve implementation of existing regulations. To date, four European nations including two EU states, the forty African Union states, and substantial majorities of Latin American and Asian states have indicated that they support her candidature."

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