Mr. Auret van Heerden is currently the President and CEO of the Fair Labor Association, where he has successfully mediated third party complaints in several different regions and heads up the European subsidiary of the FLA in Geneva. He joined the Fair Labor Association in 2001, starting with over 30 years of experience fighting for human and labor rights around the world. He obtained his degree at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, where he served two terms as the President of the National Union of South African Students. He co-authored a book in 1976 advocating workers’ rights to form trade unions.
In 1981, van Heerden was taken into custody by South African authorities and held for 289 days without trial. He continued to campaign against apartheid, but was forced into exile in May 1987. He relocated to Geneva to work on the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Program of Action against apartheid. In 1994, after South Africa became a free and democratic nation, the new government appointed him as Labor Attaché in the South African Permanent Mission to the UN in Geneva.