"It is for me a great pride and a lesson in humility to be here and to be the first African to receive [the] keys" from this specialized agency of the United Nations, declared Mr. Houngbo during the meeting. a handover ceremony with outgoing chief executive, former British trade unionist Guy Ryder.
"It is a testament [...] to the inexhaustible determination of an entire region to see the ILO continue its fight to make decent work a global reality", added the former Prime Minister of Togo, according to video footage of the ceremony released by the ILO.
"At a time of unparalleled uncertainty" and when "social justice seems like a distant prospect for many men and women", he added, "our ambition must be to reconsider the social contract to enable workers to enjoy fair treatment and share in economic progress."
Aged 61 and a native of a rural prefecture in Togo, Mr. Houngbo has spent the majority of his career in international organizations, where he is considered a seasoned senior civil servant.
Founded in 1919, in the aftermath of the First World War, the ILO's main objectives are to promote rights at work, encourage the creation of decent jobs, develop social protection and strengthen social dialogue in the area work.
Until then, the organization had always been directed - with the exception of a Chilean - by Europeans and North Americans.