GENEVA — Guy Ryder, a British national and a former head of the International Trade Union Confederation, which includes the AFL-CIO, has been elected director-general of the International Labor Organization, effective Oct. 1.
Ryder, who has a strong track record of promoting core ILO labor standards, is expected to elevate the role of the agency in this area, and also in global efforts to create jobs and bring down high levels of unemployment. During his tenure as global union chief from 2002 to 2010, Ryder campaigned against labor abuses in various sectors of the world economy, including textiles and apparel. At the height of the global financial crisis in 2008 and 2009, he lobbied leaders of G-20 countries to prioritize employment creation policies in the recovery effort.
“This is a tremendous opportunity, in the middle of this global crisis, to make a difference to the lives of millions of people, including those who’ve never heard of the ILO, to change their lives for the better,” Ryder said at the end of the vote at ILO headquarters here. Ryder stressed that the ILO “must be a determined actor, not a moral commentator.”
The ILO is a U.N.-sponsored international organization responsible for drawing up and overseeing international labor standards, bringing together representatives of governments, employers and workers to jointly shape policies and programs.
Ryder, 56, secured the top global labor post by defeating eight other candidates from France, Sweden, the Netherlands, Colombia, Malaysia, Benin, Niger and Senegal in a six-round ballot by winning the final round against former French minister Gilles de Robien, backed by the French government, by a vote of 30 to 26.
Since September 2010, Ryder has been ILO executive director in charge of international labor standards and fundamental principles and rights at work. He will succeed Juan Somavia, a former Chilean diplomat who has headed the agency since 1998.