President Doumbia-Henry Receives Honorary LLD from UWI

Dr Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, President of the World Maritime University (WMU), was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws (LLD) from the University of the West Indies (UWI) at the 2022 graduation ceremony on 15 October. Dominican-born, Dr Doumbia-Henry is a UWI alumna and Barrister at Law and was recognized by UWI for making her mark as a woman expert in international law, trade and Maritime labour standards. 

Commenting on the Honorary LLD, Dr Doumbia-Henry said, “I understand, firsthand, the impact that the generosity of donors can have on someone’s life. My mother passed away at a young age, leaving 9 children at home. It was the encouragement of my father, the generosity of the Government of Canada that funded my studies at UWI, and the invaluable education I received there that launched an incredibly rewarding and challenging career with opportunities I could not have imagined. I wholeheartedly thank UWI for this distinguished honor, and cannot emphasize enough the importance of governments, organizations, and individuals in supporting education. Its impact is far reaching. It truly has the power to level the playing field, to further the advancement of women, and its ripples can affect positive change for our global society as a whole, including our efforts to achieve a sustainable future for humanity and our planet.”

Dr Dombia-Henry’s career began at The UWI, Cave Hill as a Law lecturer. She then worked with the Iran-US Claims Tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, followed by a 29-year-long career at the International Labour Office (ILO) before joining WMU as President in 2015. From the 1990s, she led the ILO’s participation in many International Maritime Organization (IMO)/ILO interagency collaborations including joint working groups on ‘Fair Treatment of Seafarers’ and ‘Liability and Compensations regarding Claims for Death, Personal Injury and Abandonment of Seafarers’. During this time, she also led legislative reform of the body of 72 maritime labour instruments adopted by the ILO since 1920. In 2006, 68 of these would be consolidated into a single convention - The ILO Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), which is considered one of the most innovative and effective maritime labour instruments. The MLC seeks to establish a level playing field for shipowners and effective protection and rights at work for seafarers, which today remains applicable to the global Maritime industry. In 2005, Dr Doumbia-Henry became the first woman appointed Director of the International Labour Standards Department—one of the ILO’s largest portfolios.

In 2015, Dr Doumbia-Henry was appointed by the Secretary-General of the IMO to become the seventh President of WMU. She is the first woman President of the University as well as and the first President from a developing country. As the Chief Executive Officer of WMU, she oversees and directs the operations and administration of the University, positioning it as the global centre of excellence in maritime and ocean education, research and capacity building, taking on board the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Dr Doumbia-Henry is also a Panel Member for the Rapid Response Labour Mechanism of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). In 2021, she was selected for the Lloyd’s List – 100 most influential people in shipping. She was also recognized as a remarkable woman in the field of transport for the year 2021 by the Transformative Urban Mobility Initiative.

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