ILO: 10 things to know about Togo’s Gilbert Houngbo, defender of a new global social pact

By Charles Djade, in Lomé
Posted on Saturday, 14 May 2022 14:18

President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Gilbert Fossoun Houngbo talks during the World Conservation Congress (WCC) of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) held in Marseille, France 3 September 2021. Guillaume Horcajuelo/Pool via REUTERS

Gilbert Fossoun Houngbo, a former prime minister in Togolese President Faure Gnassingbé's government, will take over as head of the International Labor Organisation (ILO) next October, with the ambition of establishing a sustainable balance on a global scale.

1. Rana Plaza

The first African elected to this position, Gilbert Fossoun Houngbo is the eleventh director general of the ILO. He will succeed Guy Ryder of the United Kingdom, in office since 2012, whom he knows as well as the organisation, having been its deputy director in charge of field operations.

In May 2013, he coordinated the ILO’s response to the collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh. It was home to five garment factories, and the disaster killed more than 1,000 people. He succeeded in bringing all parties together to sign an agreement for compensation for victims and improved working conditions in the garment industry.

2. Former prime minister