Blanchard, Francis

Former Director-General of the International Labor Organization (ILO – from 1973-1989) and Legacy® Advisory Board Member 2005-2009 †

(21 July 1916; † 9 December 2009) The Hon. Francis Blanchard: former Director-General for the International Labor Organization (ILO) from 1973-1989. He joined the ILO in 1951 as deputy chief of the Manpower Division and in 1956, then Director-General David Morse appointed Mr. Blanchard Assistant Director-General.

In 1964, Mr. Blanchard was given overall responsibility for the ILO’s technical cooperation work, requiring close cooperation with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). During his tenure, the ILO resolutely worked in defense of human rights. He is credited with being instrumental in the emancipation of Poland from dictatorship.

Under Mr. Blanchard’s leadership, the ILO gave its full support to the legitimacy of the Solidarnosc Union. His Legacy interviews explore his meetings with Pope John-Paul and clandestine meetings with Lech Walesa when he used his diplomatic immunity status to go to Poland, behind the Iron Curtain.

His pioneering efforts were the first in uniting the efforts of the World Bank and the IMF to actively devise strategies to overcome poverty. A diplomat “par excellence”, he is also known as the guiding force in enhancing the ILO’s reputation. He won back the United States membership (founding member of the ILO) at the beginning of the Reagan Administration, and in 1983 China returned to active membership in the ILO, making universality of the Organization a reality.

He began his career as an international civil servant in 1947 when he joined the International Refugee Organization (IRO). He remained there until it ceased to function and he was actively associated with setting up two successor organizations, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration.

In 1989, Mr. Blanchard retired from the ILO and currently resides in France.


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