ILO Election Notes – from The Geneva Observer Briefing, 31 March 2022

Katherine Hagen’s ILO Election Notes – as published in The Geneva Observer Briefing, 31 March 2022

Congratulations to Gilbert Houngbo. His is an historic accomplishment: the first African to be elected to this position at the ILO—an organization that was established over 100 years ago without the participation of any African government, as he himself pointed out in his acceptance speech. This is undeniably a significant landmark for the organization. Continue reading “ILO Election Notes – from The Geneva Observer Briefing, 31 March 2022”

Congratulations to Gilbert Houngbo

The International Labor Organization has a new Director-General-elect who will succeed Guy Ryder on 1 October 2022. Congratulations to Gilbert Houngbo for winning on the second round of voting in the ILO Governing Body on Friday, 25 March 2022! This is indeed an historic occasion for the ILO, and I personally welcome its significance for the future of the ILO.  Here is my commentary in full on the significance of his election. Continue reading “Congratulations to Gilbert Houngbo”

Perspectives on the Five Candidates for ILO Director-General

Five candidates are standing for election for a five-year term as the next Director-General of the International Labor Organization.  All five are credible candidates, one of whom will be chosen by the ILO Governing Body by secret ballot in late March for a term beginning on 1 October 2022. The Governing Body took the unusual step of holding a series of “public dialogues” with each of the candidates on 20 and 21 January 2022.  As a former Deputy Director-General with no preferred candidate, I followed these interviews with a personal interest in what each candidate had to say on four specific of issues.  I have prepared here an explanation of how and why I chose these four specific issues. This is followed by my reflections on how each of the candidates addressed these four issues in their interviews.  The ILO Governing Body will be meeting again with the candidates on 14 and 15 March, and I look forward to following their deliberations and then, starting on 25 March, the outcome of their balloting.

Continue reading “Perspectives on the Five Candidates for ILO Director-General”

Shared Reflections on Dr. Ngozi’s Third Way and the Opportunities for a New Direction at the WTO

Congratulations once again to Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria for her appointment as the WTO’s 7th Director-General of the World Trade Organization. How thrilling it was a couple of weeks ago to know that the barriers to her appointment had come down. In anticipation of the beginning of her tenure on the first of March, I would like to focus here on one of the reasons her leadership of the WTO is so important – her clear grasp of the pandemic crisis and of what the WTO can do to make a significant difference in fighting its global consequences. I am convinced that the WTO is an ideal forum to mobilize a global response to shift the world away from the vaccine nationalism that has proven so difficult to resist. This may not be the only  issue on a very full agenda of WTO reform challenges, but it is excellent timing for a person with Dr. Ngozi’s qualifications to arrive on the scene with this as the most immediate crisis for her to manage. Continue reading “Shared Reflections on Dr. Ngozi’s Third Way and the Opportunities for a New Direction at the WTO”

Great News for the WTO – and for the Multilateralism of Today

Good news keeps coming on the US return to multilateralism: The selection of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to be the next Director-General of the World Trade Organization has finally been cleared for official approval by the WTO General Council (which is now scheduled for 15 February 2021). Just a week ago, two different but coordinated announcements were issued. One came from the Korean government announcing the withdrawal of their candidate, Yoo Myung-hee; the other came from the Biden administration announcing that the US would join the rest of the consensus of the WTO members in support of the Nigerian candidate, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. This was a truly diplomatic way to clear the way for the one without embarrassing the other.

I am personally pleased to congratulate Ms. Okonjo-Iweala on her impending success, and I congratulate Ms. Yoo Myung-hee and the other candidates for the gracious manner in which they welcomed the outcome. What a contrast to the domestic scene in the US!  Above and beyond this contrast, however, I would like to focus this note more broadly on what Ms. Okonjo-Iweala’s leadership means for the WTO – and for the changing world of multilateralism. Continue reading “Great News for the WTO – and for the Multilateralism of Today”