Changing of the guard

Outgoing ILO head hands over to Guy Ryder

Guy Ryder received three keys that symbolize the tripartite structure of the ILO, ahead of his first day as Director-General. Outgoing ILO head, Juan Somavia, handed over the golden keys, and his functions.

News | 28 September 2012
GENEVA (ILO News) - Outgoing International Labour Organization (ILO) head, Juan Somavia, has formally handed over his functions to Guy Ryder, who takes office as Director-General on October 1.

“You are now the guardian of our values and our traditions,” Somavia said, handing over the three keys to the gates of the original ILO building. The keys symbolize the UN agency’s unique tripartite composition, which brings together representatives of governments, workers and employers.

“They are in good hands, in very good hands,” Somavia said.

Ryder, for his part, said: “When these three keys turn together, when governments, employers and workers are able to come together, doors open and social justice advances.”

He said that while the goal of social justice still remains a distant prospect for millions of people, “the world is a better, fairer, safer place for what the ILO has achieved.”

Ryder– who becomes the 10th ILO Director-General – has some thirty years of experience in the world of work, most of it at the international level.

He started his career at the International Department of the Trade Union Congress in London.In 1998, he joined the ILO in Geneva, as Director of the Bureau for Workers’ Activities. In 2010, he was named Executive Director responsible for International Labour Standards and Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.

Born in Liverpool (UK) in 1956, he was educated at the universities of Cambridge and Liverpool.

Somavia, 71, had headed the ILO since 1999. An attorney by profession and a Chilean national, Somavia has had a long and distinguished career in civil and international affairs.