The Successes of President Johnson-Sirleaf’s Diplomacy and

Foreign  Minister H. E. Olubanke King-Akerele
Foreign Minister H. E. Olubanke King-Akerele
Photo Credit: IT/Public Affairs Bureau
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, by Legislative Act, is the principle institution of the Government responsible for the formation and implementation of the foreign policy of the Government of Liberia under the direction and guidance of the President of Liberia. In this connection, the Ministry initiates actions to promote beneficial intercourse between Liberia and other nations of the international Community, protects the rights and interests of Liberia throughout the World and oversees the conduct of the Liberian Foreign Service.

Liberia’s Foreign Policy is firmly rooted in its political ideology of liberalism and democracy. Generally speaking, the guiding principles of Liberia’s foreign policy has been the maintenance of national security and the preservation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country, the promotion of peace and harmony based on the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other states, and unity in the international community.

The fundamental thrust of Liberia’s foreign policy objective before the mid 1960s was predominantly the maintenance of national independence, due to threats posed by colonial powers to the Lone Star of freedom and Liberia’s support to independence movement in Africa. The foreign policy objective, with successes of the independence and anti-apartheid struggle was devoted to economic, social and political development.

Liberia’s international stature and standing among the comity of nations improved immensely from the failed and pariah state situations of the 1990’s and early 2000 to a responsible and well respected member of the International Community. This new status of Liberia , ensured particularly during the period under review, was due primarily to the radical change in the country’s foreign policy posture adopted since the incumbency of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, following her inauguration in January 2006 after democratic elections at the end of 2005 which she won overwhelmingly in a run-off.

The new posture of President Ellen Johnson’s foreign policy is a firm recommitment to the principles and ideals of the United Nations (UN,) the African Union (AU), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and Mano River Union (MRU). Accordingly, Liberia reconfirmed its absolute adherence to the rules of international law, the principles of peaceful coexistence, non-interference in the internal affairs of other nations, and respect for the sovereign equality of all states.

As a result of our recommitment to these principles and ideals of International, regional, and sub regional organizations, as well as adherence to rules of international law, the Government of Liberia reposition Africa as the cornerstone of its Foreign Policy, and the practice of a policy of good neighbourliness as its guiding principles for establishing and or ensuring the prevalence of sub- regional, and by extension guaranteeing regional and global peace and security.

 During the period under review, the relations between Liberia and the United States continue to be cordial and rewarding.  The U.S. Government’s support to Liberia, as a country emerging from conflict, has been crucial to revitalize the economy, strengthen good governance and the rule of law, rehabilitate infrastructure, enhance national security and the delivery of basic social services in the priority areas such as roads, electricity, health, education and other pro-growth initiatives within the framework of the country’s Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS).

As Liberia’s oldest and reliable partner, the United States has also led the international efforts to end the armed conflict in Liberia through its financial support for the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and the training of the military and security personnel in the country. Additionally, it has committed $400 million in bilateral debt relief for Liberia, which removed a tremendous burden on its meager resources.  As a consequence, Liberia is now recovering from its bitter past and entering an era of economic and social renewal, a transition, which has been greatly aided by the support from the United States Government, the American Congress and the American people.  As a further manifestation of U.S. commitment to Liberia’s development, another $80 million grant, provided in the Fiscal Year 2008/09 budget of the U.S. Government through the USAID funded program, was recently signed by our two countries.

During the reporting period, Liberia’s relations with European Missions near this capital remain cordial and harmonious. Liberia continues to receive Humanitarian as well as Economic Assistance from our European partners in progress notably Germany, Britain, France, Denmark, Sweden, Ireland, Switzerland, Italy, Spain and Turkey, among other European nations.

 We also received debt reductions or total debt waivers from Germany, Britain, Demark, Spain, and Italy as a result of President Sirleaf’s visits to those countries. We are confident that more European countries would follow suit in the debt relief regime, as modalities are worked out. We have also received pledges of assistance from our European Partners-in-Progress towards our Poverty Reduction Strategy.
It is also pleased to note that during the period under review, Germany and the Netherlands donated motor vehicles to the National Police Force, and tens of thousands of mosquito nets were donated by the German Government to the Government of Liberia to combat malaria. Spain donated over two dozen buses and a fire truck to the Government of Liberia; the government of the Republic of Turkey presented a vacuum truck to government.

With the return of peace and stability in the country, European Envoys from their various Embassies in the Sub-region continue to converge on the capital to present their Letters of Credence to government. Only Germany and France have re-opened their Embassies near Monrovia since the end of the Civil Conflict in 2003. Spain and Switzerland have established consulates in Monrovia, and others continue to maintain Honorary Consuls or Administrators.

Liberia-China relations during the period under review have been productive, eventful, and mutually most rewarding. This relation between both countries have been broadening, especially in areas of general economic cooperation, infrastructure development, agriculture, energy, education, culture and health and security development.

Meanwhile, the primary objective of Liberia’s foreign policy orientation is to secure the national interests through the forging and maintenance of closer and stronger ties friendship and economic partnership with traditional allies and friends, as well as the opening of new avenues of engagements and mutual solidarity with other states.

To accomplish its tasks, the Foreign Ministry operates through two basic machineries; namely, the Home Office, commonly referred to as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, undertakes the administration of all activities bordering on foreign affairs including all interactions accredited near Monrovia and the Liberian Foreign Service, is that branch of the Foreign Ministry created and located abroad to carry out its foreign operations.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs currently operates thirty (30) Structure offices, all of these offices operates under the supervision of five major departments. These departments are sub-divided into Bureaus, Divisions, Sections and Units, along with the Office of the Policy Advisor Council, the Foreign Service Institute and the Office of the Inspector General for Liberia’s Foreign Missions.

Most of the Foreign Ministry’s activities are initiated at the Home Office. In the administration hierarchy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Minister has overall responsibility. The Foreign Minister is aided by two principal deputies, one for Foreign Affairs and the other for Administration. There are a few other heads of Functional Bureau with the rank of Deputy Minister.  There are also Assistant Ministers most of whom head regional and functional bureau and who, together with the deputies, deal with Policy-formulation and Coordination. Attached to the Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs are the positions of Ambassadors-At-Large and a special Assistant with the rank of Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs.

There also exists within the hierarchy a Foreign Policy Advisory Council which serves as a foreign policy think-tank, whose main functions include the monitoring and reviewing of important international developments with a view of advising the Foreign Minister on what foreign policy options Liberia might need to pursue in order to preserve, protect, and secure the country’s best interest. The Council is headed by a Chairman with membership of several Senior Officials of the Ministry.

 There are a total of twenty one (21) Bureaux of the Ministry, in addition to the Offices of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Deputy Ministers of Foreign Affairs and that of Administration, Ambassador-at-large, and the Director General of the Foreign Service institute.

The Bureau of Afro-Asian Affairs, one the regional Bureaux of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has the statutory mandate to perform various administrative and diplomatic functions within the African, Middle East and Asian regions, as well as undertake other special tasks that may be assigned to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.  The Bureau is charged with the responsibilities of monitoring and analyzing the political and economic developments in the entire regions of Africa, Asia, the Middle East and the Pacific as they relate to and affect Liberia each other country, sub-regional, regional and international organizations, and advice the Foreign Minister on these developments.

The Bureau of European Affairs constitutes a vital component of the Ministry of Foreign affairs. The Bureau’s main task is to coordinate all aspects of Liberia-European relations within the Foreign Ministry and European Diplomatic Missions accredited near Monrovia, as well as between countries in Europe with which Liberia has Diplomatic, Commercial, Economic, and Cultural ties. In order to achieve its objectives, the Bureau studies trends in Liberia’s relations with European Union and other European Countries and recommends where necessary measures to ensure the maintenance and continuance of cordial and optimally productive relations in all their facets.

The Bureau of American Affairs, which is charged with the responsibility of implementing Government’s foreign policy as it relates to the geographical regions of North, Central and South America as well as the Caribbean, is headed by Ambassador Marcus Koffa.


The Department of International Cooperation and Economic Integration is responsible to coordinate the affairs of the Bureau of International Cooperation and the Bureau of International Organizations. The two bureaus are supervised respectively by Assistant Ministers who report directly to the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for International Cooperation and Economic Integration.

As has been the case in part, the Bureau of Legal Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs continues to function and operate as the Legal Arm of the Ministry and work in close consultation with the Minister of Foreign Affairs as well as the Senior and general staff, providing legal advise on matters relating to national and International Laws in the implementation of the Foreign Policy of the Republic of Liberia. The Bureau is also clothed with the authority to draft, negotiate prepare and submit Legal Instruments for ratification to the National legislature through the office of the President.

The Gabriel L. Dennis Foreign Service was established in 1951 by an Act of the National Legislature of Liberia; as the only national and Professional Diplomatic Training Institute and Research Unit of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Since its establishment, the Institute has been making significant contributions in line with its mandate. This reflected is and demonstrated in the range and content of its Academic and Professional Training Programs as well as in the excellent performance of its graduates. The programs of the Institute are geared at providing the appropriate intellectual orientations for Liberia’s Foreign Service Officers and Diplomat as well as strengthening their intellectual capacity to gain a penetrating insight and understanding of contemporary international development, including the socio-economic and political reality of Liberia, Africa and the World

The Protocol Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs during the period under review, maintained close and harmonious relations with all Diplomatic and Consular Missions, resident and non-resident in Monrovia as well as with International Organizations consistent with its mandate.

The office of the Inspector General serves as the custodian of all Government properties at our respective missions abroad established by the Foreign Service. These include movable and immovable assets.In this regard, and as part of our inherent mandate, the Inspector General is under an official duty to make annual and periodic inspections of missions, including consular and Honorary representatives; conduct on-the-spot investigations as the occasions may arise and submit the report to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Moreover, the Office assesses the overall effectiveness of these Missions in representing the interest and projecting the image of Liberia.

The Division of Personnel is the nucleus of the Administration of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Division implements, regulates and enforce the Ministry administrative policy with respect to managing the Ministry work force by undertaking personnel care, guidance, enforces punctuality, tidiness and disciplines. The Division liaises between employees and their respective supervisors to enhance productivity and efficiency. The function and responsibilities of the Division of Personnel includes the evaluations and recruitments of qualified personnel and the processing of employment documents through the relevant agencies. It coordinates the Ministry activities with respect to staff development with the Institute of Public Administration and the Civil Service Agency. It ensures training of manpower and develops the skills of employees to render the Ministry with clerical and professional services.

The Bureau of Public Affairs which reports directly to the Minister of Foreign Affairs is headed by an Assistant Minister who is the Official Spokesperson of Foreign Affairs, with Minister of Foreign Affairs being the Chief Spokes-person of the Ministry. The Bureau is the press and information arm of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and is charged with the responsibility of stimulating, and maintaining public support for the country’s Foreign Policy orientation and objectives.

Besides being the Information Arm and Official Spokesperson of the Ministry, the Bureau of Public Affairs has a responsibility of generating public interest and maintaining public support for Liberia’s Foreign Policy Initiative and Activities. It does this through regular Press Releases to the Media about Liberia’s Foreign Policy Objectives, and arranges press briefings, conduct press interviews on foreign policy formulation and implementation. The Bureau attaches importance to image-building, adequate dissemination of information from the Home Office and Diplomatic Missions to the public via the local media and international media

The Bureau of International cooperation and Economic Affairs constitutes an integral part of the Department for International Economic Cooperation and Integration, and continues to be responsible for all matters concerning cooperation between Liberia and other countries and organizations of the bilateral, multilateral, regional or inter-regional nature.

The Bureau of International Organizations Affairs is an important component of the Department of International Cooperation and Economic Integration, which serves as chief liaison between the Government of the Republic of Liberia and International Organizations. Additionally, the Bureau handles and coordinates all activities relating to foreign and local conferences, maintains all schedules of the approved lists of meetings/conferences at which Government is to be represented and advises functionaries of Government in order to ensure timely preparation and effective participation in such conferences

The Internal Audit Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is charge with the responsibilities of conducting internal audits periodically, such as, Quarterly, Semi Annual and Annually. The internal audit bureau monitors the financial transaction of all bureaus in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This section educates and advises on matters relating to accounts of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Internal Auditor analysis account payable to vendors and Foreign missions, verify payments to ascertain their validities.

The Bureau of Passport and Visa primarily function to issue Passport to Liberian nationals and Visas to aliens requesting legal entry. In effecting these duties, the Bureau ensures that proper screening of applicants are conducted to establish the truthfulness of their claim of Liberian citizenship and the subsequent issuance of passports on the establishment of said fact.  As you are aware, there are three categories of passport, namely Ordinary, Official and Diplomatic.  The ordinary passport process is directly handled by the Bureau, with applicants going through the regular screening procedures.

The Bureau of Achieves, Patents and Trademarks of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is charged with the responsibility of preserving, salvaging storing all probated documents such as Land Dees, Lease Agreements, Power of Attorney, Articles of Incorporation, Last Wills and Testaments, etc. The Bureau also registers and renews intellectual property documents such as Patents and Trademarks.

The Bureau of Maintenance and Technical Service is Charged with responsibilities of maintaining and repairing electrical and non electrical equipments. The Bureau is also responsible to service all mechanical and electrical equipments which include; Vehicle, generator, Telex Type Machine, Computer, Typewriter, communication sets, and Plumbing system. The Bureau takes care of the repairing of furniture, doors, windows and general cleaning of the Ministry and entirety, the interior parts as well as the exterior areas.

The Bureau of Publications of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is one of the working arms of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The functions of the Bureau include, but not limited to the followings: Writes and print Official Gazettes of deceased Government Officials, prominent and senior citizens of the Republic of Liberia.

The primary function of the Bureau of Printing is to print all Government documents, including Commissions, Official Gazettes, Proclamations, and Acts of Legislature and Letter Heads.

The Bureau of Diplomatic Pouch which is headed by a Director is responsible to prepare pouches for onward transmission to our Missions and Embassies abroad by7 Airlines and also receive diplomatic pouch from our Embassies ton the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.The Bureau also collects and posts ordinary letters to and from Government Ministries and Agencies, Public Corporations, NGO’s Diplomatic consular establishments, and private institutions, both within and outside of Liberia.

Under the leadership of Her Excellency, Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the First Female President in Africa, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs successfully carried out its functions and responsibilities by formulating and implementing the Foreign Policy of the Government of Liberia, and initiated actions to promote beneficial intercourse between Liberia and other nations including international institutions, as well as protected the rights and interest of the country abroad.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Olubanke King-Akerele, also oversees the conduct of the Liberian Foreign Service. The Ministry of Affairs operates essentially through what is commonly referred to as Machinery of Diplomacy, which consists of two major parts: The Home Office - the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as it is commonly known in Liberia’s diplomatic practice, and the Diplomatic and Consular Missions abroad, which comprised of Embassies and their staff, Consulates and Consulate Generals and their staff, as well as other special oversees Missions.

In executing the functions and duties through the Foreign Ministry, the Liberian Foreign Ministry has two aspects: Administration of all activities bordering on Foreign Affairs including all interactions with members of the Diplomatic Corps and international organizations accredited near Monrovia, and Handling of the country’s Foreign Affairs and international relations through the Foreign Service. The Foreign Service is that branch of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs consisting of diplomatic and technical officials and employees serving abroad in the Embassies, Consulates and Consulates General as well as in other international institutions.

Most of the Foreign Ministry’s activities are initiated at the Home Office, while the Foreign Service is its external appendage created largely to carry out its foreign operations. In the administrative hierarchy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Liberia, the Foreign Minister has overall responsibility.  

There also exists within the hierarchy, a Foreign Policy Advisory Council, headed by a Chairman with membership of several Senior Officials of the Ministry. The Council Service is a Foreign Policy think-tank, which main functions include monitoring and reviewing important international development with a view of advising the Foreign Minster on which Foreign Policy options Liberia might pursue in order to preserve and secure its best interest. The present Chairperson of the Council is Ambassador Carlton Karpeh, Senior Ambassador-at Large.

The Foreign Minster is aided by two deputies, one Principal (Deputy for Foreign Affairs) and a Deputy for Administration. There are two other deputies who head some functional Bureaux while there are also Assistant Ministers who, together with the deputies, deal with policy formulation and coordination. At the Home Office, there exists nine Assistant Ministers and four Deputy Ministers.

Minister King-Akerele is well respected, and credited for her leadership styles and professional approaches in the conduct of Liberia’s Foreign Policy and international relations. Today, Liberia has regained its place among the comity of nations, well respected in the international community occasioned by the visitation of World Leaders, foreign dignitaries and massive debt relief by foreign countries and multilateral organizations.

Since the incumbency of this administration, Liberia’s international stature and standing among the comity of nations have improved immensely, thus giving boost to the reconstruction and developmental programs being undertaking around the country. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with the full support and direction of the President, and through the activities of its various missions abroad, was particularly able to re-orient and change the previously negative image of Liberia abroad to a positive one.

Liberia Foreign Policy is firmly rooted in its political ideology of Liberalism and Democracy. Generally speaking, the guiding principles of Liberia’s Foreign Policy has been the maintenance of national security and the preservation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country; the promotion of peace and harmony based on the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other states, unity in the international community and respect for the sovereign equality of all states.

The fundamental thrust of Liberia’s Foreign Policy objective before the mid 1960s was predominantly the maintenance of national independence, due to threats posed by colonial powers to the Lone Star for freedom and Liberia’s support to independent movement in Africa. The foreign policy objective, with successes of independence and anti-apartheid struggle was devoted to socio-economic and political development.

Owing to the 14-year of armed violence in Liberia that spilled into other countries in the sub- region between 1990 and 2003, the Foreign Policy was focused on securing national and regional peace and promoting reconciliation. Now that hostilities have ended, the Foreign Policy objective is being refocused on socio-economic development and consolidation of peace and regional sub-region.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ accomplishments and achievements for the first one thousand days in office can be attributed to President Johnson-Sirleaf and Minister King-Akerele’s convincing articulation of Liberia’s new Foreign Policy posture. Minister King-Akerele deserves praises owing to excellent achievements since her appointment to the Foreign Ministry. Under her leadership, the Ministry made improved diplomatic ties with other countries, thus ameliorating Liberia’s negative image to a positive one.

During the first half of the Johnson-Sirleaf administration in office, Liberia maintained very strong, cordial and unique relations with countries with which it has diplomatic ties. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also maintained regular contacts with Diplomatic Missions, the Consular Corps and international organizations accredited near Monrovia. Ties with these missions are as strong and cordial as ever.

Liberia maintains twenty-six Diplomatic and Consular Missions abroad, spanning over the African, Asian, European, and the American Continents. A remarkable improvement occurred at all of Liberia’s Diplomatic Missions in terms of budgetary increment for Foreign Service Personnel, payment of salary arrears and settlement of arrears for rents of Chancery and other offices. The Government has made current the salaries of diplomatic and local personnel at the various missions abroad. These improved working conditions have steadily contributed to curbing corruption and other negative behaviours toward work, thus introducing fiscal discipline, accountability and transparency.

Due to Liberia’s role as a responsible member of the comity of nations, several world leaders, African statesmen and Governments as well as other foreign dignitaries including U. S. Congressional delegation visited the country during the period under review.

Among the World leaders who visited the country during the Johnson-Sirleaf’s Administration first one thousand days in office  include President George W. Bush of the United States, former President William Jefferson Clinton of the United  States of America; President Hu Jintao of the People’s Republic of China; President Mary Mc Aleese of Ireland; German Chancellor Ms. Angela Merkel; President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone; President John Koufour of Ghana; President Laurent Gbagbo of Cote D’Ivoire; former President Tiejan Kabba of Sierra Leone; the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Bank Ki-moon and UN former Secretary General Mr. Kofi Ananan.

Other high profile dignitaries include the five former African Presidents from the African Forum, the First Lady of the United States, Ms. Laura Bush, U. S. Secretary of State, Dr. Condoleezza Rice, the former President and the current President of the World Bank, Paul Wolfowity, and Robert Zoullick respectively and the U. S. Congressional delegation headed by Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representative.  Other high profile guests include Queen Noor of the Hashemite, Kingdom of Jordan; former Nigerian President Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Mr. Samuel Schmid, the Federal Councilor of Switzerland in charge of the Federal Department of Defense, Civil Protection and Sports, and a three-man delegation from Burundi headed by Ms. Hafga Mosi, Minister of Information and Communication

 Also visiting the country during the period under review, include the U. S. Deputy Secretary of Defense for African Affairs, Theresa Whelan; the visit of five Development Ministers from the United Kingdom of Norway, Northern Ireland, Japan, Sweden and the United States, the high power Rwandan delegation and two separate visitations paid by American Billionaires Bob Johnson and George Soros, and a delegation from the African Commission on Human & People’s Rights.

The Ministry’s achievements also include the recent signing of over US$270 Million Agreement between the U. S. Government and the Liberian Government, the US$7.1 million Food Aid Agreement by the Japanese Government, the signing of MOU for the Resumption of Peace Corps Program to Liberia, Budgetary increment for Liberia’s Foreign Service Personnel, Liberia position on the Zimbabwean Political Crisis, the recognition of Independence of the Republic of Kosovo, the signing of an agreement between Liberia and the People’s Republic of China for the construction of a 100 bedroom modern referral hospital in Ganta, Nimba County, the hosting of the Mano River Union Summit during which Ivory Coast became a full member, the donation of several tractors by the Libyan Government, the rehabilitation of the University of Liberia Fendell Campus, Buchanan Seaport and the establishment of an economic free zone, and modernization of the Liberia Broadcasting Corporation by China.

The list of achievements further include the construction of George Walker Bridge in Grand Kru County, the establishment of the Clinton Foundation, the presence of United Nations Mission in Liberia, restoration electricity and pipe bone water to parts of Monrovia, the rehabilitation of several streets, the assistance parkage from several bilateral governments and  multilateral organizations, the lifting of UN Sanction on the export of Liberian Timbers and Diamond, the settlement of Liberia’s financial obligation to the African Union.

Other achievements include the issuance of ECOWAS Passports, setting up of the Ministry’s and installation of internet services at selected offices, the curbing of illegal use of Liberian passports, while improving the process of obtaining a Liberian passport,  the adequate dissemination of information to diplomatic missions abroad by the Bureau of Public Affairs, cordial existing relations between the local media and the Home Office and the hosting of ECOWAS Foreign Ministers Meeting in Monrovia.

It is very important to state that Liberia has regained its place among the comity of nations with improved image abroad as a result of the vigorous Foreign Policy posture being adopted by the Chief architect of Liberian Foreign Policy, President Johnson-Sirleaf and implemented by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs under the dynamic and acclaimed leadership of Minister Olubanke King-Akerele