International Labour Organization elects first African leader as director general

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Monday, March 28, 2022

Houngbo on June 22, 2010.
Image: Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

On Friday, the International Labour Organization (ILO) elected former Prime Minister of Togo Gilbert Houngbo its next director general, the first African to serve the role since the organization was founded in 1919.

Houngbo, aged 61, was elected via secret ballot by the United Nations agency’s 56-member governing body in the second round with 30 votes. The runner-up was former French Minister of Labor Muriel Pénicaud, who received 23 votes. Former South Korean foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha received two votes and South African businessman Mthunzi Mdwaba received one.

The current deputy director-general, Australian Greg Vines, was eliminated in the first round.

The ILO governing body is composed of government, employee, and employer representatives from its 187 member states. It decides the ILO's policy, sets its agenda, and elects the director-general.

Houngbo was previously deputy director-general of the ILO from 2013 to 2017, and currently leads the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). He will succeed Guy Ryder as director-general from October 1, 2022.