International Organizations

Canadian Heads of International Organizations

Michaƫlle Jean

(b. 1957)

Secretary-general of La Francaphonie from January 5, 2015 to December 31, 2018. Haitian-born former governor general of Canada (2005-2010) and Canadian television host. First woman and first non-African to lead La Francaphonie

Philippe Kirsch

(b. 1947)

President of the International Criminal Court from March 11, 2003 to March 11, 2009. Belgian-born Canadian lawyer and diplomat involved in negotiations that led to the creation of the ICC. Served as the court's first-ever president.

Donald J. Johnston

(b. 1936)

Secretary-general of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development from June 1, 1996 to May 31, 2006. Former Liberal cabinet minister under Pierre Elliott Trudeau (1919-2000). First non-European to head the OECD.

William A. O'Neil

(b. 1927)

Secretary-general of the International Maritime Organization from 1990 to 2003. Former head of the Canadian Coast Guard (1975-1980), later chancellor of the World Maritime University (1991-2003).

Norman Inkster

(b. 1938)

President of Interpol from 1992 to 1994. Former head of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (1987-1994) who served in both positions simultaneously.

William Leonard Higgitt


President of Interpol from 1972 to 1976. Former head of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (1969-1973) who served in both positions simultaneously.

Arnold Smith


Secretary-general of the Commonwealth, June 1965 to June 30, 1975. Longtime Canadian diplomat, served as the Commonwealth's first secretary-general and moved it away from "Anglo-centricity."

John MacAulay


Chairman of the International Red Cross from 1959 to 1965. Former president of the Canadian Red Cross (1950-1951). Accepted 1963 Nobel Prize for Peace on behalf of the Red Cross.

Brock Chisholm


President of the World Health Organization from 21 July 1948 to July 1953. Military doctor and director of medical affairs for the Canadian Army during World War II (1939-1945). Served as first president of the WHO.

Lester B. Pearson


President of the United Nations General Assembly from October 14, 1952 to September 15, 1953. Diplomat and Liberal politician, served as foreign minister while president. Later won 1957 Nobel Peace Prize. Served as prime minister (1963-1968).