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Secretary General

The Secretary General, as the Chief Executive of the Organisation, manages the IPU and is accountable to the Governing Council. Working with the President, the Secretary General plays a critical role in defining and implementing the IPU’s strategic direction under the supervision of the Executive Committee.

The Secretary General heads the Secretariat and ensures that the decisions of the IPU Membership are implemented and that the necessary resources are mobilised. The Secretary General facilitates the political work of the Organisation, including the members and the Governing Bodies. The Secretary General also ensures the representation of the IPU at major conferences and strengthens cooperation with other international organizations.  

IPU Secretaries General are not serving MPs. They are committed to promoting and building democracy from a background which may be in public administration, international law and cooperation, or other relevant fields.

The Secretary General is initially elected for a term of four years, which can be renewed. He or she is elected by secret ballot by the Governing Council from a shortlist of applicants recommended by the Executive Committee.  

There have been eight Secretaries General since the IPU was founded in 1889. Two of them—Norway’s Christian Lange and Sweden’s Albert Gobat—are among the eight IPU figures who have won the Nobel Peace Prize.

The current Secretary General is Martin Chungong.

Martin Chungong biography

Martin Chungong made double history in 2014 by becoming the first African and first non-European to be elected as IPU Secretary General. He was recently elected to a third term of office which begins in July 2022.

He has more than four decades of experience and knowledge of parliaments at national and international levels. He has dedicated his professional life to promoting and building democracy worldwide.

After 14 years working in the Cameroonian Parliament, he spent more than 20 distinguished years within the IPU before being elected its Secretary General—the eighth person to hold the position. He had previously served as Deputy Secretary General and Director of Programmes.

He has also built an impressive portfolio in the promotion of dialogue and conflict resolution, issues that remain at the heart of the IPU’s global work. His focus on helping countries emerge from conflict or in transition has been widely acknowledged by the IPU membership and partners globally.

Since 2012, Martin Chungong has made a push to strengthen parliamentary engagement on sustainable development and accountability through his role as Parliamentary Representative on the Steering Committee of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation, an international group which helps nations, business and organizations work better together to end poverty.

Martin Chungong has been instrumental in strengthening the gender equality agenda within the IPU. He also is spearheading gender parity initiatives promoted by the International Gender Champions, a network of decision makers, male and female, who have committed to breaking down gender barriers. In 2020, he was elected Chair of the Global Board of the International Gender Champions.

Martin Chungong is highly committed to rejuvenating democracy, its processes and institutions such as parliaments and is driving the IPU’s efforts to bring more young people into parliaments worldwide.

Martin Chungong is also leading IPU’s work to dramatically reduce maternal and child mortality rates through effective legislation and its implementation, as well as ensuring governments’ accountability for international commitments in this area. He sits on the Board of the Partnership for Maternal Newborn and Child Health. He was also appointed by the UN Secretary-General as one of the global leaders committed to fighting malnutrition through the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement.

He is a member of the High-Level Commission on the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25 Follow-up (conference held on the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development) and of the Club de Madrid Global Commission on Democracy and Emergencies.

A linguist by training, Martin Chungong speaks English, French and Spanish.