Juan Somavía was Director-General of the ILO from March 1999 to September 2012. Prior to his election as Director-General of the ILO, Mr Somavia was Ambassador of Chile to the United Nations in New York from 1990 to 1999, representing the newly elected democratic government of Chile. Juan Somavía has had a long and distinguished career in civil, political and international affairs. His wide experience in all areas of public life – as Ambassador, CEO, policy-maker, and his involvement in social development, business, civil and academic organisations have all helped shape his vision of the need to secure decent work for women and men through productive investments in the real economy. He believes that in many ways the quality of a society is defined by the quality of work available. He has been particularly active in addressing the social dimension of the present financial and economic crisis.

Throughout his career, he has written and lectured widely on trade, security, social, economic, labour, and human rights issues and holds numerous citations and awards for his work in the areas of peace, human rights and social development.