The Office of the IGAD Executive Secretary (ES) is well regarded and highly placed in the hierarchy of the regional organization. According to the Agreement Establishing IGAD (the Agreement), the holder of this office is described as the chief executive officer of the organization and acts as its bona fide spokesman.
Indeed, Article 3 of the Agreement points out, in part that IGAD shall, in the exercise of its legal personality, be represented by the ES. He shall act in the aforementioned capacities and perform "such other functions as are entrusted" to him by the Summit of the IGAD Heads of State and Government, and the Council of Ministers as clearly stipulated in the terms of reference.
The Agreement further empowers the ES to "bring to the attention of the Summit and Council any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of regional peace and security". In addition, the Agreement also defines the powers of the office and grants its occupant considerable scope for action.
The day-to-day work of the ES includes managing the daily affairs of the IGAD Secretariat, consulting with government officials of IGAD Member States and representatives of development partners, as well as representing IGAD at various international and regional forums. One of the most critical roles that he plays using his office and authority is to prevent regional disputes from arising, escalating or spreading. This is often done publicly and in private, drawing upon his independence, impartiality and integrity. Furthermore, the ES is charged with the responsibility of advocating and building the image of the organization and the region. The office bearer travels worldwide to mobilize necessary resources to run the organization’s programmes and to keep the leadership and the people of the region informed about the vast array of issues of concern that are on the organization's agenda at any given time.
Each year, the ES produces a detailed annual report that documents results of its activities/projects and programmes and outlines future priorities.
Hence, the overall duties and responsibilities of the office bearer can be summed up to include, providing strategic leadership within the mandate of IGAD, as well as to the senior management team and staff so as to build and sustain the organization’s role as a key regional player in peace and security, economic cooperation and integration, trade and development activities.
The current ES, Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu is the sixth since the organization was established in 1986. A national of Ethiopia, he took over from Amb. Mahboub Maalim in November 2019.