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The First African Elected to Head the UN’s Tripartite Organisation

The International Labor Organization elected former Togolese Prime Minister Gilbert Houngbo as its director-general, the first African to hold the top post since the body was founded in 1919. Houngbo said the outcome of the election carries a rich symbolism. “Your choice today fulfils the aspirations of a young African boy whose humble upbringing turned into a lifelong quest for social justice. It also marks for an entire region, a region that did not have a seat at a table when the ILO constitution was drafted.” “Its readiness the lead the way in a united effort to act on the principle enshrined in the Declaration of Philadelphia that labour is not a commodity,” he said. Houngbo is currently president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development and was previously a deputy director-general at the International Labor Office. His five-year term at the ILO will begin on Oct. 1. He was elected by the ILO’s Governing Body, comprising representatives of governments, workers and employers, during their meeting in Geneva. There were five candidates for the position including, Kang Kyung-wha of the Republic of Korea, Muriel Pénicaud of France, Greg Vines of Australia and Mthunzi Mdwaba of South Africa.