Boutros Boutros-Ghali, veteran Egyptian diplomat and the first United Nations Secretary-General from Africa, passed away today at the age of 93. He is being praised for guiding the Organization through the tumultuous early 1990’s and for helping shape the UN’s response to post-Cold War realities, drafting a seminal report on preventive diplomacy, peacemaking and peacekeeping.
The UN Security Council announced Mr. Boutros-Ghali’s death this morning, after which the 15-member held a moment of silence. Boutros-Ghali had a long association with international affairs as a diplomat, jurist, scholar and widely published author. He became a member of the Egyptian Parliament in 1987, and at the time of his appointment as UN chief, he had been Deputy Prime Minister for Foreign Affairs of Egypt since May 1991, and had served as Minister of State for Foreign Affairs from October 1977 until 1991.
Over four decades, Mr. Boutros-Ghali participated in numerous meetings dealing with international law, human rights, economic and social development, decolonization, the Middle East question, international humanitarian law, the rights of ethnic and other minorities, non-alignment, development in the Mediterranean region and Afro-Arab cooperation.
In September 1978, Mr. Boutros-Ghali attended the Camp David Summit Conference and had a role in negotiating the Camp David accords between Egypt and Israel, which were signed in 1979. The sixth United Nations Secretary-General, his term was marked by brutal conflicts in Haiti, Somalia, Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, among others. Soon after his inauguration, the Security Council met in its first-ever summit of Heads of State. At their request, Boutros-Ghali authored the report called ‘An Agenda for Peace,’ an analysis on ways to strengthen UN capacity for preventive diplomacy, peacemaking and peacekeeping.
Also during his tenure, he spearheaded UN structural and management reform. At UN Headquarters in New York, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hailed his predecessor as a respected statesman who brought “formidable experience and intellectual power to the task of piloting the United Nations through one of the most tumultuous and challenging periods in its history, and guiding the Organization of the Francophonie in subsequent years.”
“As Secretary-General, he presided over a dramatic rise in UN peacekeeping. He also presided over a time when the world increasingly turned to the United Nations for solutions to its problems, in the immediate aftermath of the cold war,” Mr. Ban told reporters. “He showed courage in posing difficult questions to the Member States, and rightly insisted on the independence of his office and of the Secretariat as a whole. His commitment to the United Nations – its mission and its staff – was unmistakable, and the mark he has left on the Organization is indelible,” Ban stressed.
He extended his deepest condolences to Mrs. Boutros-Ghali, as well as to the rest of the family, to the Egyptian people, and to the late Secretary-General’s many friends and admirers around the world. “The United Nations community will mourn a memorable leader who rendered invaluable services to world peace and international order,” he concluded. Sincere condolences were also expressed by Oh Joon, President of the UN Economic and Social Council, who hailed Mr. Boutros-Ghali as an early backer of the concept of peace-building. The President of the UN general Assembly, Mogens Lykketoft also expressed his condolences, saying the UN and the world had lost and “outstanding diplomat.”
The High Representative for the UN Alliance of Civilizations, Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser expressed his “profound sadness” at Mr. Boutros-Ghali,’s passing and said he will always be remembered for his continuous endeavours to achieve world peace, and noted that ‘Agenda of Peace’ continues to be a lasting legacy.