In Memoriam - Michael Cichon

Some very sad news came at the end of the year 2022—Michael Cichon, the former President of ICSW in 2012-2016 passed away in Bocholt, Germany on 30 December 2022. It is a huge loss for all those who knew and admired Michael and for his many friends and colleagues. Our hearts and deepest condolences go out to his immediate family. It is hard to believe that Michael is no longer with us.

Social security for everyone was not an empty word for Michael, rather it was his mission every day. In his capacity as the Director of the Social Security Department at the International Labour Organization he not only skillfully led the team of dedicated professionals engaged in the preparation of Recommendation 202, which was adopted by the ILO Conference in 2012, but also helped to navigate very difficult tripartite negotiations at the ILO preceding the adoption of that path-breaking document.

In his writing, speeches and presentations Michael was driven by a desire to help people, and by his compassion for the weak. As an educator and university professor after his retirement from the ILO, he helped to raise a cohort of social protection specialists, helping many young minds to better understand social dynamics but at the same time also helping students to be better people. As the President of the International Council on Social Welfare he steered the organization for several years expanding its portfolio and the horizons of its activities. Michael Cichon was instrumental in creating the Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors and for several years consistently contributed to its international activities with his research and advocacy advice.

Regardless of the platforms he used in his very visible and meaningful activities, be it at a specialized UN agency, in academia or in civil society organizations, Michael was always motivated by human-centered considerations and concerns. Sharing his experience willingly and profusely he was never indifferent to injustice, whatever form it might assume. His capacity for compassion was enormous. He and his wife did not hesitate to host a family of Syrian refuges in his Bocholt home for several months when there was an urgent need for their accommodation.

A remarkable person on all counts, an idealist in the best sense of the word, Michael Cichon was a well-known scholar and practitioner devoted to the cause of social justice. He not only wanted to change the world for the better, he actively worked in that direction using his vision, vast talents, professionalism, competence and intelligence. His inner core and prime mover was his humanism and belief that the future could be different and better.

Sergei Zelenev