ILO Director-General pays tribute to Professor Sir Bob Hepple (1934-2015)

Statement | 25 August 2015
Sir Bob Hepple at the ILO on International Women's Day 2014
I am deeply saddened about the news of the passing of Sir Bob Hepple, a true champion of social justice and a long-standing friend and contributor to the ILO’s work.

On behalf of the ILO, and on my own behalf, I pay tribute to Sir Bob whose life and work have been inextricably linked to the cause of building societies based on equality, democracy and respect for human dignity.

As a researcher and teacher of labour law and labour relations, his thinking and writings have been of global significance. As a lawyer, he explored the transformative power of law but likewise the challenges posed to regulation as a tool for achieving social progress and ways to address them.

During his visit at the ILO in March 2014 to participate in the celebration of International Women’s Day, Sir Bob called for the restoration of the principles of social solidarity, changes to the structure of employment and the way we measure economic value – clear messages that are much needed today.

Sir Bob’s academic excellence was anchored in an unwavering personal commitment to human rights and a deep sense of humanity, shaped by his childhood and formative years in a South Africa under apartheid.

On being bestowed with one of the highest honours of his home country for his involvement in the anti-apartheid struggle - shortly after last year’s visit to the ILO - the official citation expressed it all:

“For his bravery in the times where fighting for liberation was courting danger. He chose to align himself with the marginalised to ensure that all who live in South Africa enjoy the privilege of equality”.

Sir Bob’s legacy will remain a source of inspiration and encouragement for the ILO to pursue its efforts for social justice and decent work for all including the principle of freedom from discrimination in occupation and employment.