Born in Paris on 16 July 1916, Francis Blanchard (France) began his career as an international civil servant in 1947, joining the International Refugee Organisation (IRO)at the age of 31. Mr. Blanchard remained at the IRO until it ceased to function and was actively associated with the setting up of its two successor bodies, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration. In 1951, Mr. Blanchard joined the ILO where his first assignment was as deputy chief of the Manpower Division, in which capacity he was involved with the ILO's initial technical cooperation activities in vocational training and manpower, which were financed by the United Nations and the Organisation for European Economic Cooperation. Photo:BIT/Unidentified
In 1968, Mr. Blanchard was appointed Deputy Director-General with responsibility for technical cooperation and regional activities. Two of the ILO's major new tasks were brought under his supervision - providing assistance to developing countries and planning the decentralization of the ILO's activities. Photo:BIT/Unidentified
In November 1973, the Governing Body appointed him Director-General, a responsibility that Dr. Ammar had shouldered since the tragic death of Wilfred Jenks. In that delicate and difficult situation, Mr. Blanchard gave full proof of his ability to head the Office, particularly at the 4th African Regional Conference and the 2nd European Regional Conference (Here at the Apartheid Committee, 30 May 1974). Photo:BIT/Unidentified
After M. Blanchard took office in 1974, he oversaw the expansion of ILO technical cooperation programmes, and therefore, to some extent changed the image of the Organisation. (Here at the opening ceremony of the new ILO building in Geneva on 12 November 1974). Photo:BIT/Unidentified
During his tenure at the helm of the ILO, he resolutely continued its work in defence of human rights. Thus, the ILO played a major role in Poland from dictatorship, by giving its full support to the legitimacy of the Solidarnosc Union based on respect for Convention No. 87 on freedom of association which Poland had ratified in 1957. (Here Lech Walesa- Workers' delegate, Poland - at a plenary sitting of the 67th Session of the International Labour Conference, 1981). Photo:BIT/Unidentified
Francis Blanchard (left), with the Hon. Rajiv Gandhi, Prime Minister of India on 17 June 1985 at the 71th Session of the International Labour Conference. Photo:BIT/Unidentified
As Director-General, Mr. Blanchard worked hard to spread the word of the ILO as widely as possible and to extend its activities to the informal sector. In 1989, Mr. Blanchard retired from the ILO after 38 years of service to the Organisation. Belgium's Michel Hansenne succeeded him guided the ILO into the post-Cold War period. (Here at International Labour Conference, 1989 with - from right to left - Mr. Michel Hansenne and Mr. David Morse, two other former ILO Director-General). Photo:BIT/Crozet M.
Belgium's Michel Hansenne succeeded him in 1989 and guided the ILO into the post-Cold War period, and in 1999, Juan Somavia of Chile took over as Director General. (Here at the 98th International Labour Conference in 2009, three Directors-General: From left to right, Mr. Juan Somavia, Mr. Francis Blanchard, Mr. Michel Hansenne). Photo:BIT/Crozet M.
In June 2009, Mr. Blanchard participated in the ceremonies marking the 90th anniversary of the ILO (Here with Mr. Juan Somavia). Photo:BIT/Crozet M.
He was also present at the International Labour Conference in June where the President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, paid tribute to his distinguished legacy as Director General of the ILO. Photo:BIT/pool photo ILC
Mr. Blanchard died on 10 December 2009. Expressing his sorrow at the announcement of his passing away, Mr. Juan Somavia said he felt "a profound spiritual bond with Francis Blanchard, the principal architect of the Organization's expansion in the 1970s and 1980s, a guardian of its universality, a champion of its struggle to promote human rights and a leader in expanding the fight against poverty and for better working conditions.". Photo:BIT/Unidentified