Boutros Ghali, an urbane Egyptian Copt married to an Egyptian Jew and a true believer in a diverse tolerant world, died today at the age of 93 in a Cairo Hospital where he was being treated after fracturing his pelvis in a fall. Boutros Boutros-Ghali was born in Cairo on into a Coptic Christian family. His grandfather Boutros Ghali had been Prime Minister of Egypt from 1908 until he was assassinated in 1910.
A diplomat who helped secure peace deals between Israel and his native Egypt, Boutros-Ghali served as UN chief from January 1992 to December 1996, and became the first secretary general to be deprived of a second term as he struggled to impose the UN’s writ in a post-cold war world. He was the first African to hold the position. Repeated clashes with the world’s dominant power meant his second term was opposed by then US secretary of state Madeleine Albright and president Bill Clinton, who garnered the mixed support of some EU nations, including the UK, to block him. He was succeeded by Kofi Annan.
As UN SecGen Boutros Boutros-Ghali didn't hide his views on world events. Spoke truth also to power.https://t.co/HbUNDJQjPI
— Carl Bildt (@carlbildt) February 17, 2016
His five years were dogged by controversy. During the Rwandan genocide in 1994, he was criticised for the UN’s failure to prevent the massacre. His opposition to NATO’s bombing campaign in Bosnia also angered Washington, and contributed to his ousting.
The US wielded its veto when Boutros-Ghali sought a second term, which he regarded as a personal betrayal. Madeleine Albright, the US Ambassador to the UN at time, wore a “friendly smile” and repeated “expressions of friendship and admiration,” he claimed in his memoir.
But behind his back she tarnished his image and demolished his authority. His treatment brought to mind the words of a Hindu scholar: “There is no difference between diplomacy and deception.”
— United Nations (@UN) February 16, 2016
In terms of a positive legacy, Ban Ki-moon, his successor as UN chief, praised the dramatic rise of blue-helmeted peacekeeping on his watch. In a landmark report entitled Agenda for Peace, Boutros-Ghali also emphasised the importance of post-conflict peace-building, which informs a lot of UN thinking to this day.
But perhaps his biggest diplomatic accomplishment pre-dates his time as UN Secretary General. Serving as Egypt’s foreign minister under President Anwar el-Sadat, he played a key role in negotiating the Camp David agreement brokered by the US president Jimmy Carter.
Boutros Boutros-Ghali – Egyptian Politician, Diplomat, Academic and sixth Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN)- (14 November 1922 – 16 February 2016)
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