Labour of love

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

By Charles Djade, in Lomé

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Posted on May 14, 2022 12:18

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

Between 2008 and 2012, Houngbo used his skills to serve his country, Togo, as prime minister. During his tenure as prime minister, Togo reached the completion point of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative, which resulted

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