First African Elected ILO Director-General
By Mohamed Sheriff
Geneva, Switzerland, Friday, 25 March 2022. The Governing Body of the International Labour Organization (ILO) today elected a new Director-General. He is Mr. Gilbert F. Houngbo, a former Prime Minister of Togo.
The ILO’s Governing Body, comprising representatives of governments, workers and employers, during their meeting in Geneva, constituted council of electors.
Mr. Houngbo is the 11th Director-General of the ILO, and the first African to hold the post. The new Director-General’s five-year term will begin on 1 October 2022. The current Director-General, Guy Ryder, from the United Kingdom, has held the office since 2012.
During the months leading to the votes, there were five candidates for the post of ILO Director-General. The other candidates were- Kang Kyung-wha (Republic of Korea), formerly Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea and Deputy Director-General for International Organizations for Korea; UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mthunzi Mdwaba (South Africa), formerly Employers’ Vice-Chairperson of the ILO Governing Body and Vice-President to the ILO, International Organization of Employers; Muriel Pénicaud (France), currently the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of France to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and former Minister of Labour of France; and Greg Vines (Australia), currently Deputy Director-General of the ILO with responsibility for Management and Reform, and formerly Minister (Labour), Australian Permanent Mission to the UN in Geneva and Chair of the ILO Governing Body.
The ILO’s Governing Body is composed of 56 titular members (28 Governments, 14 Employers and 14 Workers) and 66 deputy members (28 Governments, 19 Employers and 19 Workers). The Employer and Worker members are elected in their individual capacity.
The ILO is the oldest specialized agency of the UN. It was founded in 1919 and has the mandate to promote decent work for all. It has 187 Member States.
Sierra Leone was among dozens of Nations that participated in the 344th Session of the Governing Body from 21-25 March 2022 in Geneva, Switzerland.
After the announcement of the ballot result, the Director-General-elect addressed the Governing Body, assuring member states and other stakeholders of his commitment to the foundational values of ILO and to building upon the success of his predecessors.
Items discussed at the 344th Session of the Governing Body includes- Institutional, policy development, Legal issues and International Labour Standards, Programme, Financial and Administrative issues, among others.