The first non-Swiss national to be ITU Secretary-General was Leon Mulatier of France. Mulatier had been Deputy Director of the ITU Bureau from 1939 to 1947 and (after the post was renamed and reorganized) one of two Assistant Secretary-Generals from 1948 to 1949. The other Assistant Secretary-General was Gerald C. Gross, of the United States, who took charge of ITU’s radio division, while Mulatier oversaw the telegraph and telephone division. Mulatier was appointed ITU Secretary-General in 1949 and held this office from 1950 until his retirement in 1954.
Mulatier was born in 1887 in Eurre, a village in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of France. In 1906, he joined the French Post Office (PTT) in Lyon and, during the First World War, after a period in the infantry he served in the Radio Transmission Service. Upon rejoining the PTT after the war, he worked at the central office in Paris that managed telegraphy in France. In 1935, he was promoted to Director of Telegraphy and Radio. He was responsible for planning and implementing such major projects as laying submarine cables, establishing intercontinental radio links, and reorganizing the French broadcasting network.
Mulatier also represented France at international gatherings, including those related to ITU. He helped with France’s preparations for the 1927 International Radiotelegraph Conference, held in Washington, D.C. He attended the Plenary Assemblies of the International Telegraph Consultative Committee (CCIT) in Warsaw in 1936 and the International Radio Consultative Committee (CCIR) in Bucharest in 1937. In 1938, he attended the International Telegraph and Telephone Conference in Cairo and the European Broadcasting Conference in Montreux in 1939.
While a member of ITU’s leadership, Mulatier took part in all major events, such as the International Telecommunications Conference in Atlantic City in 1947, and the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference in Buenos Aires in 1952.
Mulatier retired on 31 December 1953 and remained in Geneva where, after a long and productive life, he died at the age of ninety-four.