Rules governing the appointment of the Director-General of the ILO

Annex III to the Compendium of rules applicable to the Governing Body of the International Labour Office (adopted by the Governing Body at its 240th Session (May–June 1988) and amended at its 312th Session (November 2011) and 347th Session (March 2023)).

Legal document | 29 March 2023


1. Candidatures for the post of Director-General shall be received in the office of the Governing Body Chairperson on or before a date to be determined by the Governing Body which shall be at least two months prior to the date of the election.

2. In order to be considered these candidatures must be submitted by a Member State of the Organization or by a member of the Governing Body.

3. Each candidate shall annex to their candidature a curriculum vitae and a certificate of good health signed by a recognized medical facility.

4. Candidates shall be invited to provide together with their candidature, a statement of no more than 2,000 words describing their vision for the Organization and the strategic direction they would pursue in the event they are appointed. The statement should also address the candidate’s commitment to the values and work of the ILO and its tripartite structure; their experience in economic, social and labour issues, international affairs, leadership and organizational management, and their appreciation of cultural, social and political diversities. Candidates should pledge to observe at all times the ethical principles and standards set out in these Rules. Candidates should also indicate their language proficiency with regard to the official languages of the ILO.

5. All of the documents mentioned in Rules 2, 3 and 4 above shall be submitted by the candidates in English, French and Spanish, with the exception of the certificate of good health that can be submitted in only one of these three languages or accompanied by an authentified translation in one of these languages.

6. To be valid, candidatures shall meet the conditions specified in Rules 1, 2, 3 and 5 above.

7. Candidatures submitted in accordance with the above-mentioned conditions shall be distributed together with curricula vitae and statements, in the official languages in which they are submitted, to the members of the Governing Body and to the Member States not represented on the Governing Body for information, by the Chairperson as soon as practical after the candidature has been received. Only statements received at the same time as the candidatures shall be receivable and distributed.

Election procedure

8. In the three-month period prior to the election, at least one interactive event, such as an interview or panel discussion, shall be organized with a view to providing an opportunity for candidates to make themselves and their vision known to the entire ILO constituency and the general public. The interactive event shall be webcast on the ILO public website in all ILO official languages. The order of appearance shall be determined by lot. Detailed arrangements concerning the date, format and duration of the interactive event shall be decided by the Governing Body at its session preceding the event. Expenses arising out of the candidates’ participation in the interactive event shall be borne by the Organization.

9. Hearings shall be conducted with the candidates at a private sitting of the Governing Body held prior to the election. The order of appearance in the hearings shall be drawn randomly by the Governing Body Chairperson and candidates shall be informed of the date and approximate time of their hearing at least one week prior to the hearing. Each candidate shall be heard individually and shall be invited to make a presentation to the Governing Body. Following the presentation, the candidate shall receive and respond to questions from the Governing Body. The time allocated to candidates for making their presentation and receiving and responding to questions shall be determined by the Officers. Equal time will be allocated for all candidates.

10. On the date set for the election, as many ballots shall be held as are necessary to determine which of the candidates has obtained the required majority.

11. To be elected, a candidate must receive the votes of more than one half of the members of the Governing Body entitled to vote.

12. (i) After each ballot, the candidate who has obtained the lowest number of votes shall be eliminated.

(ii) If two or more candidates obtain simultaneously the lowest number of votes, they shall be eliminated together.

13. If in the ballot between the remaining candidates they receive the same number of votes and a further ballot still does not produce a majority for one of them, or if one candidate remains but does not obtain the required majority in a further ballot in which his or her name is submitted to the Governing Body for a final vote, the Governing Body may postpone the election and freely set a new deadline for the submission of candidatures.

Fairness and transparency of the appointment process and ethical conduct

14. Practices that may undermine or improperly influence the integrity of the appointment process, such as promises, favours and gifts provided by, or in support of, candidates for the post of Director-General, are prohibited.

15. Appropriate measures shall be taken by the Director-General to remind the staff of the Office of the rules and standards of conduct aimed at ensuring the Office’s strict neutrality and impartiality with respect to the electoral process, as well as the sanctions that can be imposed on staff in the event these rules and standards are not respected.

16. In particular, appropriate measures shall be taken by the Director-General to prohibit the use of ILO resources for the purposes of campaigning as well as any action that amounts to, or may be perceived as, disapproval of, or support for any candidate.

17. Candidates shall promptly disclose their campaign activities (such as the hosting of meetings, workshops and visits) together with the amount and source of all funding for such activities, and communicate this information to the Office. Information so disclosed shall be posted on a dedicated ILO web page.

18. Candidates shall refer to one another with respect. They shall refrain from making any oral or written statement or other representation that could be deemed slanderous or libellous.

19. Allegations of inappropriate behaviour or non-compliance with the ethical principles and standards of the appointment process shall be referred to the Chairperson of the Governing Body for appropriate follow-up action.

20. Candidates may consult the Ethics Officer in case of doubt and seek advice with respect to the applicable ethical principles and standards.

21. On accepting appointment, the candidate appointed to the post of Director-General shall divest of any earning of any income, gift or allowance, and any financial involvement or interest, where such could have an impact on, or could be perceived to have an impact on, the objectivity or independence of the person appointed. Furthermore, the appointed candidate shall be required to comply with the procedure for financial disclosure laid down in the ILO’s internal rules.

Status of internal candidates

22. Any ILO officials submitting their candidature for the post of Director-General must observe at all times the highest standards of ethical conduct and strive to avoid any appearance of impropriety. They must clearly separate their ILO functions from their candidature and avoid any overlap, or perception of overlap, between campaign activities and their work for the ILO. They also must avoid any perception of conflict of interest.

23. To this end, ILO officials submitting their candidature for the post of Director-General shall be placed on special leave with half salary, under article 7.7 of the Staff Regulations, for the period between the closure of candidatures and the date of election. They may also use their annual leave entitlement during this period.

24. Rule 23 above does not apply to a Director-General running for reappointment.