Wim Kok was born in Bergambacht, The Netherlands in 1938 where he attended Nijenrode Business School. He then completed his military service and worked for a short time at a trading company. In 1961, Mr. Kok was appointed international officer of the Netherlands Federation of Trade Unions. He was chairman from 1973 until 1985. From 1979 to 1982, Mr. Kok also served as chairman of the European Trade Union Confederation.
In 1986, he succeeded Joop den Uyl as leader of the social democratic party (Partij van de Arbeid). From 1989 until 1994 Mr. Kok was Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance in the third Lubbers government in a cabinet with the Christian Democratic Party (Christen Democratic Appèl) and the progressive liberal party D’66.
In 1989, he was elected deputy chairman of the Socialist International.
In 1994, Mr. Kok became Prime Minister and Minister for General Affairs in a cabinet with the liberal party VVD (Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie) and D’66. After the elections in 1998 he led a second government with the same partners. His cabinet fell just weeks before the May 2002 elections when Mr Kok and all of his ministers stepped down because of the discussion about the possible Dutch responsibility in the 1995 fall of Srebrenica. After the elections he left politics, as he had already announced he would do the year before.
Wim Kok became an ICMP Commissioner in June 2002.