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Boutros Boutros-Ghali

Boutros Boutros-Ghali

Appointed sixth secretary-general of the United Nations in November 1991, Egyptian lawyer, academic, civil servant, and diplomat Boutros Boutros-Ghali (born 1922) sought to reassert the leadership role of the United Nations in contemporary world affairs.

Boutros Boutros-Ghali was born on November 14, 1922, into one of the Egyptian Coptic community's most influential and affluent families. His father, Yusuf, served at one time as the country's finance minister, while a grandfather had been premier of Egypt from 1908 until his assassination in 1910. Boutros-Ghali's own cosmopolitanism and fluency in English and French, in addition to Arabic, can be traced to his patrician upbringing and formal schooling. After completing a law degree in 1946 at Cairo University, he spent the next four years in France, earning diplomas in higher studies in public law and in economics, as well as a Ph.D. in international law from Paris University in 1949.

Returning to Egypt, Boutros-Ghali became professor of international law and international relations at Cairo University. During his 28 years in academia he was a Fulbright scholar at Columbia University (1954-1955) and director of the research center at the Hague Academy of International Law (1967-1969). In addition to participating in many international conferences and delivering guest lectures at prestigious universities abroad, from Princeton to the Warsaw Institute of International Relations and Nairobi University, his list of scholarly publications ran to over 100 articles on foreign policy problems and at least 12 books. Membership on the UN Commission of International Law (1979-1992) gave him a better understanding of the workings of that body, which would serve him later in his career.

Boutros-Ghali left academia in October 1977, with what proved to be an exquisite sense of timing. Appointed minister of state for foreign affairs, he accompanied President Anwar Sadat on the historic journey to Jerusalem on November 19, 1977. Then he attended the Camp David peace summit the following September as part of the Egyptian delegation. During the 1980s he was also involved in domestic politics as a leading member of the National Democratic party and as a delegate to the Egyptian parliament from 1987. In May 1991 President Husni Mubarak promoted him to deputy prime minister for international affairs and minister of state for immigration and Egyptian expatriates. However, this deepening involvement in Egyptian national and external affairs ended toward the close of 1991 with the invitation to head the United Nations.

Upon assuming office in January 1992, UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali became the world's leading spokesman for post-Cold War internationalism, as well as its foremost practitioner. The new head of the United Nations insisted on viewing the end of the U.S.-Soviet rivalry and the precedent for collective enforcement measures against aggression established during the Kuwait crisis as presenting an historic opportunity for transforming the nature of world politics. Boutros-Ghali used his position to summon all countries and governments belatedly to fulfill the original 1945 UN Charter pledge of an integrated global system and, accordingly, championed the UN organization and its affiliate specialized agencies in promoting the cause of international peace and common security, economic development, and human rights through multilateral cooperation. But on the immediate and more practical level, much of his energy went toward putting the United Nations' own house in order.

The secretary-general's ambitious list of UN-related priorities included: streamlining the secretariat and coordinating the efforts of UN personnel headquartered in New York with those in Geneva, assuring that budgetary resources in the future would be commensurate with the increased number and complexity of the missions undertaken around the globe, prodding the United States and other permanent members of the Security Council, as well as the General Assembly, to redefine the UN's mandate, and stengthening the commitment of each of the more than 180 member-states to the world body. The highest priority assigned by Boutros-Ghali was to broaden the role of peace-keeping. His goal was to assure greater effectiveness by the eve of the United Nations' fiftieth anniversary in 1995.

This program of structural, procedural, and functional reform inevitably made Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali a controversial figure in world affairs. Against the backdrop of destabilizing events in Bosnia and Somalia, he found himself involved in sharp political differences not only with the United States and other Western governments, but also with UN military field commanders. This seemed uncharacteristic to the rather unassuming, former Egyptian statesman and man of letters. Nevertheless, he continued to commit UN resources in search of peace in Cyprus, the Middle East, Angola, Cambodia, and elsewhere.

Indeed, Boutros-Ghali's appointment had surprised many UN experts, who were inclined to dismiss him as excessively conservative and uncharismatic. They saw his selection as a gesture toward the Third World, especially its 51-member African bloc. Noting his age (69), they also rushed to predict he would be more of an interim caretaker than a voice for dynamic change by an action-oriented United Nations.

The secretary-general's critics apparently had underestimated his leadership qualities and inner resolve. Certainly, the biography of Boutros-Ghali, his long public career, and previous experience in international and Middle East diplomacy, underscored impressive professional qualifications for the sensitive UN position.

Boutros-Ghali has continued to remain committed to democratization throughout historically conflicted countries. He has overseen the deployment of over 70, 000 UN peace keeping troops during his years in office. Boutros-Ghali remained a prominent and outspoken memeber of the United Nations until the end of his term in 1996.

Further Reading

Insight into Boutros-Ghali's thinking on current international politics and his approach to the United Nations can be found in his important special report to the Security Council entitled An Agenda for Peace (1992). Earlier major publications include: "Contribution à l'Etude des Entences Régionales" (XV Editions, Paris, 1949); "Cours de Diplomatie et de Droit Diplomatique et Consulaire" (Cairo, n.d.); "Les Problémes du Canal de Suez" (1957); "Egypt and the United Nations" in collaboration with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (1957); "Le Principe d'Egalité des Etats et les Organisations Internationales" (1961); "Foreign Policy in a World of Change" (1963); "Contribution à une Théorie Générale des Alliances" (Paris, 1963); "L'Organisation del'Unité Africaine" (Paris, 1969); "Le Mouvement Afro-Asiatique" (Paris, 1969); "Les Difficultés Institutionelles du Panafricanisme" (Geneva, 1971); "La Ligue des Etats Arabes" (Leyden, n.d.); and "Les Conflits de Frontièeres en Afrique" (Paris, 1973).

Additional Sources

New York Times, August 7, 1991; November 22, 1991; November 23, 1991.

Time, December 2, 1991; February 3, 1992; March 23, 1992;January 6, 1997.

UN Press Release, November 15, 1996. □

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Boutros-Ghali, Boutros

Boutros Boutros-Ghali

Born: November 14, 1922
Cairo, Egypt

Egyptian diplomat, lawyer, and UN secretary-general

Appointed the sixth secretary-general of the United Nations (UN) in November 1991, Boutros Boutros-Ghali is respected around the world for his distinguished career as a lawyer, scholar, and international diplomat. As secretary-general of the United Nations, he sought to reestablish the leadership role of that international organization in world affairs.

Upbringing and education

Boutros Boutros-Ghali was born in Cairo, Egypt, on November 14, 1922, into one of the Egyptian Coptic-Christian community's most influential and wealthiest families. As a youth Boutros-Ghali displayed a sense of humor that remains a quality for which he is well liked. His father, Yusuf, at one time served as the country's finance minister, while a grandfather had been prime minister of Egypt from 1908 until his assassination in 1910. At a young age Boutros-Ghali learned about Western culture. His sophistication and fluency in English and French, in addition to Arabic, can be traced to his upbringing in an upper-class family and his formal schooling. After completing a law degree in 1946 at Cairo University in Egypt, he spent the next four years in France, earning diplomas in higher studies in public law and in economics, as well as a doctorate in international law from Paris University in 1949.

Life as a scholar and statesman

Returning to Egypt, Boutros-Ghali became a professor of international law and international relations at Cairo University. During his twenty-eight years in university life he was a Fulbright scholar at Columbia University (19541955) in New York City, and director of the research center at the Hague Academy of International Law (19671969) in the Netherlands. He participated in many international conferences and delivered guest lectures at major universities abroadfrom Princeton University in the United States to the Warsaw Institute of International Relations in Poland to Nairobi University in Kenya. His list of scholarly publications ran to more than one hundred articles on foreign policy problems and at least twelve books. Membership on the UN Commission of International Law (19791992) gave him a better understanding of the workings of that organization, and it would serve him well later in his career.

Boutros-Ghali left university life in October 1977 with what proved to be an excellent sense of timing. Appointed Egyptian minister of state for foreign affairs, he accompanied President Anwar Sadat (19181981), who wanted to find a way to end the Arab-Israel conflict, on the historic journey to Jerusalem to meet with the prime minister of Israel on November 19, 1977. After this Boutros-Ghali attended the peace summit at Camp David in the United States the following September as part of the Egyptian delegation. During the 1980s he was involved in Egyptian politics as a leading member of the National Democratic Party and as a delegate to the Egyptian parliament. In May 1991 President Hosni Mubarak (1929) promoted him to deputy prime minister for international affairs. Boutros-Ghali's deepening involvement in Egyptian national and external affairs ended toward the end of 1991, with the invitation to head the United Nations.

To the United Nations

Upon taking office in January 1992, UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali became the world's leading spokesman for, and practitioner of, internationalism (the goal of which is for countries to peacefully cooperate to solve problems). The new head of the UN viewed the end of the Cold War (the decades-long rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union that saw each country significantly build up its military) and the example set during the Persian Gulf War (a war that began after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990) as presenting a historic opportunity for changing the nature of world politics. Boutros-Ghali used his position at the UN to call all countries and governments to fulfill the original 1945 UN pledge of a global political system. He held up the United Nations and its various agencies as an organization that could promote international peace and security, economic development, and human rights through international cooperation. But on the immediate and more practical level, much of his energy went toward putting the United Nations' own house in order.

The secretary-general's ambitious list of UN-related goals included: making the organization more efficient and coordinating the efforts of UN workers in New York City with those in Geneva, Switzerland; making sure that the funding of the United Nations would be enough to meet the needs of the increased number and complexity of its missions around the globe; and strengthening the commitment of each of the more than 180 member states to the United Nations. The most important of Boutros-Ghali's goals was to broaden the United Nations' role of peacekeeping. His goal was to ensure greater effectiveness by the time of the United Nations' fiftieth anniversary in 1995.

This program of reform made Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali a controversial figure in world affairs. He found himself having sharp political differences, not only with the United States and other Western governments, but also with UN military field commanders. This seemed uncharacteristic for the rather modest former Egyptian statesman and scholar. Nevertheless, he continued to commit the United Nations to searching for peace in Cyprus, the Middle East, Angola, Cambodia, and elsewhere.

Silencing the critics

Indeed, that Boutros-Ghali was named secretary-general had surprised many UN experts, who generally dismissed him as too moderate and lacking personality. They saw his selection as a gesture toward developing nations, especially the fifty-one African countries that belonged to the United Nations. Noting that he was sixty-nine, they thought he would be more of a temporary caretaker than a voice for change for an action-oriented United Nations. But the secretary-general's critics apparently had underestimated his leadership qualities and inner resolve. Certainly, Boutros-Ghali's long public career and experience in international and Middle East diplomacy were impressive qualifications for the difficult position.

Boutros-Ghali continued to be committed to bringing democracy to nations that had a history of conflict. He oversaw the stationing of more than seventy thousand UN peace-keeping troops during his years in office. Boutros-Ghali remained willing to speak his mind until the end of his term in 1996.

After leaving the United Nations, in 1997 Boutros-Ghali was named secretary-general of the International Organization of the Fran-cophonie. The organization has fifty-one member states that together make up the French-speaking world. In 2001 the University of Ottawa in Canada recognized the outstanding role Boutros-Ghali played in world politics by awarding him an honorary doctorate.

For More Information

Boutros-Ghali, Boutros. Unvanquished: A U.S.-U.N. Saga. New York: Random House, 1999.

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Boutros-Ghali, Boutros

Boutros Boutros-Ghali (bōō´trōs, gä´lē), 1922–, Egyptian statesman, secretary-general of the United Nations (1992–96). He attended the universities of Cairo and Paris (Ph.D., 1949). He was (1949–79) professor of international relations at Cairo Univ. A member of numerous academic and diplomatic organizations, he was present (1978) at the Egypt-Israel Camp David accords negotiations. He also served as Egypt's delegate to the United Nations and other international bodies and conferences. A member of the Egyptian parliament (1987–91), Boutros-Ghali became Egypt's minister of state for foreign affairs and deputy prime minister for foreign affairs. The first African and Arab head of the United Nations, he moved to reorganize and streamline the UN Secretariat and strengthen the UN's peacekeeping role. In 1996, after policy disagreements mainly with the United States, he was forced from office. He served as secretary-general of La Francophonie, an organization of French-speaking nations, from 1997 to 2002.

See his Unvanquished: A U.S.-UN Saga (1999).

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Boutros-Ghali, Boutros

Boutros-Ghali, Boutros (1922– ) Egyptian politician, sixth secretary-general (1992–96) of the United Nations (UN). As Egypt's foreign affairs minister (1977–91), he was involved in many of the Middle East peace negotiations. He briefly served as prime minister of Egypt (1991–92), before becoming the first African secretary-general of the UN. Early in his term he faced civil-war crises in the Balkans, Somalia, and Rwanda. A fiercely independent secretary-general, Boutros-Ghali managed to alienate US opinion and was blamed for the failure of UN peacekeeping in Somalia and Bosnia

http://www.un.org/Overview/SG/sg6bio.html

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