France–Liberia relations

Bilateral relations
France-Liberia relations
Map indicating locations of France and Liberia

France 22


France-Liberia relations refer to the bilateral relations between France and Liberia.


France was early to recognize the independence of Liberia. After the Republic of Liberia declared independence on 26 July, 1847, France was the second, after the United Kingdom, to recognize it as a sovereign nation in 1852.[1] Joseph Jenkins Roberts spent much of his early terms as Liberian president making state visits to garner recognition for his republic. He held multiple visits with French President Louis Napoleon III, who ultimately gifted Liberia military equipment and uniforms.[2]

Territorial disputes

Until the 1880s, Liberia and France shared a mostly positive relationship, though rumors of French desires for Liberian land existed in Liberia and the United States since the late 1870s. This positive relationship changed with the Scramble for Africa, and French imperialistic ambitions in West Africa muddied their relations. Previous to the 1880s, France had praised Liberia as a civilizing force in Africa, though after the Berlin Conference, it changed this view, seeing only Europeans as capable of "civilizing" Africans.[3] France had two major colonies bordering Liberia: Guinea to the north and Côte d'Ivoire to the east. In the 1880s, France started to lay claim to territory claimed by Maryland County between the San Pedro and Cavalla rivers.[4] In 1892, France seized the land. On 8 December 1892, the Liberian government signed an agreement ceding the territory to France.[5] The territory became part of the Côte d'Ivoire colony.[4]

On 18 September 1907, Liberia signed another territorial treaty with France.[6] This time, Liberia ceded much of its claimed northeastern territory.[7] The treaty also specified that if Liberia did not make a military force to protect its borders, then France had the right to implement one in Liberia. This was one of the factors which lead to the creation of the Liberian Frontier Force.[8] On 13 January 1911, France and Liberia signed another territorial agreement, which worked out problems which arouse from the 1907 treaty.[9][7]

Economic ties

A major loan between France, along with other Western powers including the United Kingdom, the United States, and Germany, was negotiated in 1911, under Liberian President Arthur Barclay, and ratified in 1912, under Liberian President Daniel E. Howard.[10] This was the third, in a series of two other major, uneven loans taken out by the Liberian government.[11] The loan borrowed $1,700,000 for Liberia, with the conditions including that the four countries would be able to each appoint General Receivers of Customs, which limited the powers of the Liberian Secretary of the Treasury.[10] The 1912 loan was paid off in 1926, with a loan from the Finance Corporation of America.[12]

In 2004, Tim Geysbeek of the journal History in Africa explained that France "exerts tremendous economic and political influence" over Liberia.[7] During the Liberian civil wars, France was a major importer of Liberian timber.[13] French firms were dependent on timber from the Liberian conflict zone, with France accounting for 18% of Liberia's timber export.[14] The timber export helped to sustain the Charles Taylor regime. France sanctioned Liberian timber exports in July 2003, after Taylor's exile to Nigeria.[15] In 2019, France was found to be in violation of European Union laws to prevent illegal timber imports, as French firms had been importing large amounts of illegal timber, acquired through bribery and illegal deforestation, from a number of African countries, including Liberia.[16]

Recent diplomacy

In February 2018, Liberian President George Weah made his first state visit outside of Africa to France, where he met with French President Emmanuel Macron.[17][18] The current Liberian ambassador to France is Geraldine Bass-Golokeh, who presented her credentials to President Macron on 12 April 2019.[19] The current French ambassador to Liberia Michaël Roux has served since 2020.[20]

Embassy of Liberia in Paris

Resident diplomatic missions

See also



  1. ^ Wesley 1917, p. 378.
  2. ^ Gates & Higginbotham 2008, pp. 620–621.
  3. ^ Geysbeek 2004, pp. 193–194.
  4. ^ a b Dunn, Beyan & Burrowes 2000, p. 64.
  5. ^ Murdza 1979, p. 347.
  6. ^ Murdza 1979, p. 430.
  7. ^ a b c Geysbeek 2004, p. 198.
  8. ^ Nevin 2011, pp. 279–280.
  9. ^ Murdza 1979, p. 366.
  10. ^ a b Van Der Kraaij, Fred P.M. "President Arthur Barclay (1904-1912) The 1912 Loan: More foreigners appointed". Liberia Past and Present. Retrieved 16 August 2022.
  11. ^ Duva 2002.
  12. ^ Dunn, Beyan & Burrowes 2000, p. 216.
  13. ^ Dunn, Beyan & Burrowes 2000, p. 122.
  14. ^ Johnston 2004, p. 448.
  15. ^ Johnston 2004, p. 446.
  16. ^ "African timber from firms linked to bribery, conflict and illegal logging floods into France". Earthsight. 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2022.
  17. ^ Bryant, Lisa (18 February 2018). "Liberia's George Weah Pays First Official Visit to France". Voice of America. Retrieved 16 August 2022.
  18. ^ "Liberia's new president pays visit to France". The Seattle Times. 21 February 2018. Retrieved 16 August 2022.
  19. ^ "Liberia's Ambassador Bass-Golokeh Presents Letters of Credence to President Emmanuel Macron of France". FrontPage Africa. 18 February 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2022.
  20. ^ "Biography of H.E. Michaël ROUX". Embassy of France in Monrovia. Retrieved 16 August 2022.
  21. ^ Embassy of France in Monrovia
  22. ^ Embassy of Liberia in Paris


  • Dunn, Elwood D.; Beyan, Amos J.; Burrowes, Carl Patrick (2000). Historical Dictionary of Liberia. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press.
  • Duva, Anjali Mitter (2002). "The Lone Star: The Story of Liberia". PBS. Retrieved 16 August 2022.
  • Gates, Henry Louis; Higginbotham, Evelyn Brooks (2008). The African American National Biography: Moore, Lenny-Romain. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.
  • Geysbeek, Tim (2004). "The Anderson-d'Ollone Controversy of 1903-04: Race, Imperialism, and the Reconfiguration of the Liberia-Guinea Border". History in Africa. Cambridge University Press. 31: 185–213. JSTOR 4128524. Retrieved 16 August 2022.
  • Johnston, Patrick (2004). "Timber Booms, State Busts: The Political Economy of Liberian Timber". Review of African Political Economy. Taylor & Francis. 31 (101): 441–456. JSTOR 4006966. Retrieved 16 August 2022.
  • Nevin, Timothy D. (2011). "The Uncontrollable Force: A Brief History of the Liberian Frontier Force, 1908—1944". The International Journal of African Historical Studies. Boston, Massachusetts: Boston University African Studies Center. 44 (2): 275–297. JSTOR 23046881. Retrieved 16 August 2022.
  • Murdza, Peter John, Jr. (1979). The Tricolor and the Lone Star: A History of Franco-Liberian Relations 1847-1930.
  • Van Der Kraaij, Fred P.M. "President Arthur Barclay (1904-1912) The 1912 Loan: More foreigners appointed". Liberia Past and Present. Retrieved 16 August 2022.
  • Wesley, Charles H. (1917). "The Struggle for the Recognition of Haiti and Liberia as Independent Republics". The Journal of African American History. 2: 369–383. Retrieved 16 August 2022.
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