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Blanchard, ex-UN labor chief, dies at 93

Blanchard, ex-UN labor chief, dies at 93

Francis Blanchard, a Frenchman who was the U.N. labor chief for 15 turbulent years that included a U.S. walkout and the fall of communism, has died, the International Labor Organization said Thursday. He was 93.
Blanchard was a champion of the ILO's "struggle to promote human rights, and a leader in expanding the fight against poverty and for better working conditions," said Juan Somavia, the current ILO director-general.
Blanchard, who headed the ILO from 1974 to 1989, died Wednesday at a Swiss home for the elderly.
The ILO said he was instrumental in expanding the organization's presence around the world, but his tenure also encountered controversy.
The United States pulled out of the body in 1977 to protest Soviet bloc immunity from criticism for violating the human rights of workers. The U.S. returned three years later, saying it was satisfied with changes in the organization.
In the 1980s Blanchard played a major role in Polish history by supporting the Solidarity unionists as they chipped away at communist repression, the ILO said.
Blanchard was born in Paris on July 21, 1916.
He joined the ILO in 1951, rising to deputy director 17 years later. In June, he took part in the organization's 90th anniversary at a ceremony that included French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Blanchard is survived by one son.
A funeral service will be held Tuesday in Gex, France, a suburb of Geneva where Blanchard lived after his retirement.


Updated : 2021-04-19 05:36 GMT+08:00