By Own Correspondent
TOGOLESE national Gilbert Houngbo has broken an all- time record becoming the first African to land the International Labour Organisation (ILO) director general’s post. He became the 11th Director-General of the ILO elected by the ILO’s Governing Body, composed of representatives of governments, workers and employers, during their meeting in Geneva.
Speaking after his election, Houngbo said despite coming from an African nation, his perspective is global.
“Although my origins are African my perspective is global. In an age, unfortunately of dividedness, my commitment to be a unifying Director-General stands firm. I will be the Director-General of nobody representing everyone,” he said.
“Governments, employers and workers alike, from all regions across the world, can rely and should rely on my total readiness to represent and advocate the views of all tripartite constituents of the organization,” he said.
He committed to represent the voices of those who rely on the ILO whose exact number he placed on or about four billion people around the world yearning for social protection to include about 200-plus millions of women and men who face unemployment.
He said 160 million children were exposed to child labour while 1,6 billion people are in the informal sector. “I’m thinking about the women and men who face discrimination, violence and harassment in the workplace and elsewhere. These are all expressions of unacceptable social injustice that we are morally if not legally bound to address,” he said.
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.
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 a mandate to promote decent work for all.