Lobbying intensifies for International Labour Organisation director-general seat



COTU Secretary General Francis Atwoli during a media briefing at his home in Bofa, Kilifi County. He condemned the attack on Deputy President William Ruto during his rally in Kondele, Kisumu County on Wednesday, November 10, 2021. [Robert Menza, Standard]

Lobbying has intensified for the post of director-general at the International Labour Organisation (ILO) with five candidates nominated for the election that is slated for March next year. 

The candidates include Kang Kyung-wha (Republic of Korea), Gilbert F Houngbo (Togo), Prof Mthunzi Perry-Mason Mdwaba (South Africa), Greg Vines (Australia) and Muriel Pénicaud (France). 

Africa is fronting two candidates even after South Africa withdrew its endorsement of their candidate. Mdwaba’s name was submitted by Federation of Kenya Employers CEO Jacqueline Mugo.

This has caused confusion among African delegates. 

To be considered, candidatures must be submitted by a member state of the organisation or a member of the governing body.

In Kenya, Ms Mugo and Central Organisation of Trade Union (Cotu) boss Francis Atwoli will be the delegates.

To be elected, a candidate must receive votes of more than one-half of the members of the governing body.

According to the rules, during the first week of January, the chairperson of the governing body will interview candidates on the basis of the format and principles contained at the ILO and the guidance provided by the governing body.

South Korea’s Kang aims to become the first Asian female ILO director-general.

Kang has been active in a wide range of fields such as human rights, disaster recovery, woman and the disabled at the UN, and believes that multilateral cooperation activities with the ILO are important in that the protection of labour rights is also a human right.

She says she believes that more positive activities of ILO are needed in the global crisis caused by Covid-19, and she would like to contribute to this based on her extensive experience.?

Vines says to deliver his vision for a world that ensures social justice and decent work for all, he will ensure ILO labour standards and the supervisory system are globally recognised and respected as the basis on which to advance the decent work agenda and a human-centred future of work.

He will also reinvigorate social dialogue, shared ambition and trust, to respond to the changing realities of the world of work. 

Houngbo says he cherishes the ambition of leading the ILO with a new impetus, to reposition it at the heart of the global social architecture and to mitigate the risk of its stature’s erosion.

Mdwaba says he will reposition ILO to do its work of defending workers’ rights at large.?

Penicaud says she will encourage high-level political discussions in the governing body, and ensure the ILO’s governance and management are transparent and inclusive.

During the 343rd Session of the ILO Governing Council held on November 11, it was resolved that prior to the election of the new director-general, public dialogues with the candidates will be held for the first time on January 20 and 21 next year.

It also agreed on modalities to ensure a consistent approach and equal conditions for all candidates.

The term of office of the director-general commences on October 1 next year.

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