Boutros Boutros-Ghali (/ˈbtrɒs ˈɡɑːli/; Arabic: بطرس بطرس غالي, romanizedBuṭrus Buṭrus Ghālī; 14 November 1922 – 16 February 2016) was an Egyptian politician and diplomat who served as the sixth Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1992 to 1996. Prior to his appointment as secretary-general, Boutros-Ghali was the acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of Egypt between 1977 and 1979. He oversaw the United Nations over a period coinciding with several world crises, including the breakup of Yugoslavia and the Rwandan genocide.

Boutros Boutros-Ghali
بطرس بطرس غالي
Boutros-Ghali in 1980
6th Secretary-General of the United Nations
In office
1 January 1992 – 31 December 1996
Preceded byJavier Pérez de Cuéllar
Succeeded byKofi Annan
Secretary-General of La Francophonie
In office
16 November 1997 – 31 December 2002
Preceded byJean-Louis Roy (ACCT)
Succeeded byAbdou Diouf
Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
17 September 1978 – 17 February 1979
Prime Minister
Preceded byMuhammad Ibrahim Kamel
Succeeded byMustafa Khalil
In office
17 November 1977 – 15 December 1977
Prime MinisterMamdouh Salem
Preceded byIsmail Fahmi
Succeeded byMuhammad Ibrahim Kamel
Personal details
Born(1922-11-14)14 November 1922
Cairo, Kingdom of Egypt
Died16 February 2016(2016-02-16) (aged 93)
Cairo, Egypt
Political party
Alma mater

Born to a Coptic Christian family in Cairo, Boutros-Ghali was an academic by training and taught international law and international relations at Cairo University from 1949 to 1979. His political career began during the presidency of Anwar Sadat, who appointed him acting foreign minister in 1977. In that capacity, he helped negotiate the Camp David Accords and the Egypt–Israel peace treaty between Sadat and Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin. He was acting foreign minister until early 1991, when he served as deputy foreign minister for a few months.

Boutros-Ghali was elected secretary-general by the United Nations General Assembly in 1991 and began his term in 1992, succeeding Javier Pérez de Cuéllar. His tenure was marked by controversy and crises, which included the Somali Civil War, the Rwandan Civil War, the continuing Angolan Civil War and the Yugoslav Wars. He received criticism over UN inaction in Angola and during the genocide in Rwanda, and the perceived ineffectiveness of the UN peacekeeping operation in Bosnia led to a NATO intervention. In 1996, Boutros-Ghali ran unopposed for a second term as secretary-general but the United States, long dissatisfied with his leadership, denied his bid by exercising its UN Security Council veto.

After leaving the UN, Boutros-Ghali served as the first Secretary-General of La Francophonie from 1997 to 2002. He then became chairman of the South Centre, an intergovernmental think tank for developing countries. He died in 2016 in Cairo at the age of 93.

Early life and education


Boutros Boutros-Ghali was born in Cairo, Egypt, on 14 November 1922 into a Coptic Orthodox Christian family.[1][2][3] His father Yusuf Butros Ghali was the son of Boutros Ghali Bey then Pasha (also his namesake), who was Prime Minister of Egypt from 1908 until he was assassinated in 1910.[4][5] His mother, Safela Mikhail Sharubim, was daughter of Mikhail Sharubim (1861–1920), a prominent public servant and historian.[6] The young boy was brought up by a Slovenian nanny, one of the so-called Aleksandrinke [sl]; he was closer to Milena, "his invaluable friend and confidant", than to his own mother.[7]

Boutros-Ghali graduated from Cairo University in 1946.[8] He received a PhD in international law from the Faculty of Law of Paris (University of Paris) and diploma in international relations from Sciences Po in 1949. During 1949–1979, he was appointed Professor of International Law and International Relations at Cairo University. He became President of the Centre of Political and Strategic Studies in 1975 and President of the African Society of Political Studies in 1980. He was a Fulbright Research Scholar at Columbia University from 1954 to 1955, Director of the Centre of Research at The Hague Academy of International Law from 1963 to 1964, and Visiting Professor at the Faculty of Law of Paris from 1967 to 1968. In 1986 he received an honorary doctorate from the Faculty of Law at Uppsala University, Sweden.[9] He was also the Honorary Rector of the Graduate Institute of Peace Studies, a branch of Kyunghee University Seoul.[citation needed]

Political career

Boutros-Ghali (left) and Moshe Dayan at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, 1979

Boutros-Ghali's political career developed during the presidency of Anwar Sadat. He was a member of the Central Committee of the Arab Socialist Union from 1974 to 1977. He served as Egypt's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs from 1977 until early 1991. He then became Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs for several months before moving to the UN. As Minister of State, he played a part in the peace agreements between President Sadat and Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin.[10]

According to investigative journalist Linda Melvern, Boutros-Ghali approved a secret $26 million arms sale to the government of Rwanda in 1990 when he was foreign minister, the weapons stockpiled by the Hutu regime as part of the fairly public, long-term preparations for the subsequent genocide. He was serving as UN secretary-general when the killings occurred four years later.[11][page needed][12]

United Nations Secretary-General


1991 selection


Boutros-Ghali ran for Secretary-General of the United Nations in the 1991 selection. The top post in the UN was opening up as Javier Pérez de Cuéllar of Peru reached the end of his second term, and Africa was next in the rotation. Boutros-Ghali tied Bernard Chidzero of Zimbabwe in the first two rounds of polling, edged ahead by one vote in round 3, and fell behind by one vote in round 4. After several countries withdrew their support for Chidzero, fed by fears that the United States was trying to eliminate both of the leading candidates, Boutros-Ghali won a clear victory in round 5.[13]

Tenure (1992–1996)

Boutros-Ghali, Klaus Schwab and Flavio Cotti at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, 1995

Boutros-Ghali's term in office remains controversial. In 1992, he submitted An Agenda for Peace, a suggestion for how the UN could respond to violent conflict. He set three goals: for the UN to be more active in promoting democracy, for the UN to conduct preventative diplomacy to avert crises, and to expand the UN's role as peacekeeper.[14] Although the goals were consistent with those of US president George H. W. Bush, he nevertheless repeatedly clashed with the United States, especially with his efforts to involve the UN more deeply in the civil wars in Somalia (1992) and in Rwanda (1994). The United States refused to send peace enforcement units under UN leadership.[15] Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad called on Boutros-Ghali to resign for failing to take any firm action to help resolve the conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina.[16]

Boutros-Ghali was criticised for the UN's failure to act during the 1994 Rwandan genocide, during which over a half million people were killed.[17][18] Boutros-Ghali also appeared unable to muster support in the UN for intervention in the continuing Angolan Civil War. One of the hardest tasks during his term was dealing with the crisis of the Yugoslav Wars after the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia. The UN peacekeeping force was ineffective in Bosnia and Herzegovina, forcing the intervention by NATO in December 1995. His reputation became entangled in the larger controversies over the effectiveness of the UN and the role of the United States in the UN.

Boutros Ghali in his office in the United Nations Secretariat (1994).

The US journalist Mark Bowden argues that he was responsible for an escalation of the Somalia crisis by undertaking a personal vendetta against Mohamed Farrah Aidid and his Habar Gidir clan, favouring their rivals, the Darod, the clan of the former dictator Siad Barre. It was believed[weasel words] that he demanded the 12 July 1993 US helicopter attack on a meeting of Habar Gidir clan leaders, who were meeting to discuss a peace initiative put forward by the leader of the UN Mission in Mogadishu, retired US Admiral Jonathan Howe. Bowden suggests that most of the clan elders were eager to arrange peace and rein in the subversive activities of their clan leader Aidid. Still, after this attack on a peaceful meeting, the clan was resolved to fight the Americans and the UN, leading to the Battle of Mogadishu on 3–4 October 1993.[19]

Second term vetoed


Boutros-Ghali ran unopposed for the customary second term in 1996, despite efforts by the United States to unseat him. US ambassador Madeleine Albright asked Boutros-Ghali to resign and offered to establish a foundation for him to run, an offer that other Western diplomats called "ludicrous".[20] American diplomatic pressure also had no effect, as other members of the Security Council remained unwavering in their support for Boutros-Ghali. He won 14 of the 15 votes in the Security Council, but the sole opposing vote was a US veto.[21][22] After four deadlocked meetings of the Security Council, France offered a compromise in which Boutros-Ghali would be appointed to a short term of two years, but the United States rejected the French offer. Finally, Boutros-Ghali suspended his candidacy, becoming the second Secretary-General ever to be denied re-election by a veto, with Kurt Waldheim being the first.

Later life

Boutros-Ghali with Naela Chohan at UNESCO in Paris, 2002

From 1997 to 2002, Boutros-Ghali was Secretary-General of La Francophonie, an organisation of French-speaking nations. From 2002 to 2005, he served as the chairman of the board of the South Centre,[23] an intergovernmental research organisation of developing countries. Boutros-Ghali played a "significant role"[24] in creating Egypt's National Council for Human Rights and served as its president until 2012.[25][26]

Boutros-Ghali supported the Campaign for the Establishment of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly and was one of the initial signatories of the Campaign's appeal in 2007. In a message to the Campaign, he stressed the necessity to establish democratic participation of citizens at the global level.[27] From 2009 to 2015 he also participated as a jury member for the Conflict Prevention Prize, awarded every year by the Fondation Chirac.[28]



Boutros-Ghali died aged 93 in a Cairo hospital after being admitted for a broken pelvis or leg on 16 February 2016.[29][30][31] He reportedly had fallen down the stairs at his home in Cairo.[32] A military funeral was held for him with prayers led by Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria. He is buried at Petrine Church in Abbassia, Cairo.[33]

Personal life


Boutros-Ghali's wife, Leia Maria Nadler, was raised in an Egyptian Jewish family in Alexandria and converted to Catholicism as a young woman.[8][34]

Honorary degrees

Boutros-Ghali in a stamp of Turkmenistan, 1996

He received honorary degrees from Sciences Po, Russian Academy of Sciences, Catholic University of Leuven, Université Laval, Université de Moncton, Carleton University, Université du Québec à Chicoutimi, Charles III University of Madrid, University of Bucharest, Baku State University, Yerevan State University, University of Haifa, University of Vienna, University of Melbourne, Seoul National University, Waseda University, University of Bordeaux, and Uppsala University. [35][36][37][38][39][40][41]

Awards and recognition




National honours

Ribbon Description Year
  Grand Collar of the Order of the Nile [year needed]
  Grand Cordon of the Order of the Arab Republic of Egypt [year needed]
  Grand Cross of the Order of Merit [year needed]

Foreign honours

Ribbon Country Honour Year
    Grand Cross of the Order of the Liberator General San Martín [year needed]
    Grand Cordon of the Order of Leopold [year needed]
    Grand Cross of the Order of the Southern Cross [year needed]
    Companion of the Order of Canada[42] 2003
    Grand Cross of the Order of Central African recognition [year needed]
    Grand Cross of the National Order of Merit [year needed]
    Grand Cross of the Order of Boyaca [year needed]
    Knight of the Order of the Elephant [year needed]
    Grand Cross of the National Order of San Lorenzo [year needed]
    Grand Cross with Silver Star of the Order of José Matías Delgado [year needed]
    Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour[43] 1994
    Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany [year needed]
    Grand Cross of the Order of the Redeemer [year needed]
    Knight Grand Cross with Collar Order of Merit of the Italian Republic[44] 1982
    Grand Cross of the Order of Ivory Merit [year needed]
    Grand Cordon of the Order of the Chrysanthemum [year needed]
    Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg [year needed]
    Grand Cross of the National Order of Mali [year needed]
    Grand Cross of the Order of the Aztec Eagle [year needed]
    Grand Commander of the Order of the Star of Nepal [year needed]
    Grand Cross of the Order of St. Olav 1994
    Grand Cross of the Order of the Sun of Peru [year needed]
    Grand Cross of the Order of Prince Henry[45] 1996
    Grand Cross of the Order of La Pléiade 2002
    Grand Cross of the Order of the Star of Romania 2001
    Grand Cross of the National Order of the Lion [year needed]
    Grand Cross of the Grand Order of Mugunghwa [year needed]
    Grand Cross of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta [year needed]
    Grand Cross of the Order of the Polar Star [year needed]
    Knight of the Order of Pope Pius IX 1993

Published works


As Secretary-General, Boutros-Ghali wrote An Agenda for Peace. He also published other memoirs:

In English

  • The Arab League, 1945–1955: Ten Years of Struggle, ed. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, New York, 1954
  • New Dimensions of Arms Regulations and Disarmament in the Post Cold War, ed. United Nations, New York, 1992
  • An Agenda for Development, ed. United Nations, New York, 1995
  • Confronting New Challenges, ed. United Nations, New York, 1995
  • Fifty Years of the United Nations, ed. William Morrow, New York, 1995
  • The 50th Anniversary: Annual Report on the Work of the Organization, ed. United Nations, New York, 1996
  • An Agenda for Democratization, ed. United Nations, New York, 1997
  • Egypt's Road to Jerusalem: A Diplomat's Story of the Struggle for Peace in the Middle East, ed. Random House, New York, 1998
  • Essays on Leadership (with George H. W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Desmond Tutu), ed. Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict, Washington, 1998
  • Unvanquished: A US-UN Saga, ed. I. B. Tauris, New York, 1999
  • The Papers of United Nations Secretary (with Charles Hill), ed. Yale University Press, New York, 2003
  • The Arab League, 1945–1955: International Conciliation, ed. Literary Licensing Publisher, London, 2013

In French

  • Contribution à l'étude des ententes régionales, ed. Pedone, Paris, 1949
  • Cours de Diplomatie et de Droit Diplomatique et consulaire, ed. Librairie Anglo-égyptienne, Cairo, 1951
  • Le problème du canal de Suez, ed. Société égyptienne du droit international, Cairo, 1957
  • Le principe d'égalité des États et des organisations internationales, ed. Académie de droit international, Leiden, 1961
  • Contribution à une théorie générale des alliances, ed. Pedone, Paris, 1963
  • Le Mouvement afro-asiatique, ed. Presses universitaires de France, Paris, 1969
  • L'organisation de l'Unité africaine, ed. Armand Colin, Paris, 1969
  • Les difficultés institutionnelles du panafricanisme, ed. Institut Universitaire des Hautes études Internationales, Geneva, 1971
  • Les conflits des frontières en Afrique, ed. Techniques et Économiques, Paris, 1972
  • Contribution à une théorie générale des alliances, ed. Pedone, Paris, 1991
  • L'interaction démocratie et développement [eds.], ed. Unesco, Paris, 2002
  • Démocratiser la mondialisation, ed. Rocher, Paris, 2002
  • Émanciper la Francophonie, ed. L'Harmattan, Paris, 2003
  • 60 Ans de conflit israélo-arabe : Témoignages pour l'Histoire (with Shimon Peres), ed. Complexes, Paris, 2006

See also





  1. ^ "Boutros Boutros-Ghali Biography – life, family, history, young, infor…". Encyclopedia of World Biography. 6 September 2012. Archived from the original on 6 September 2012. Retrieved 19 March 2022 – via{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  2. ^ Chandler, Adam (16 February 2016). "Remembering Boutros Boutros-Ghali". The Atlantic. Retrieved 7 July 2022.
  3. ^ "Vale Boutros Boutros-Ghali: Former UN chief and key thinker on peacekeeping". Retrieved 7 July 2022.
  4. ^ Reid, Donald M. (1982). "Political Assassination in Egypt, 1910–1954". The International Journal of African Historical Studies. 15 (4): 625–651. doi:10.2307/217848. JSTOR 217848.
  5. ^ Goldschmidt 1993, pp. 183, 188.
  6. ^ Goldschmidt 1993, p. 183.
  7. ^ "The Alexandrians :: Vertigo". Retrieved 9 June 2022.
  8. ^ a b Goshko, John M. (16 February 2016). "Boutros Boutros-Ghali, U.N. secretary general who clashed with U.S., dies at 93". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 16 February 2016.
  9. ^ Naylor, David. "Honorary doctorates". Uppsala University, Sweden. Retrieved 20 March 2022.
  10. ^ "Boutros Boutros-Ghali: The world is his oyster". Weekly Ahram. 18 January 2006. Archived from the original on 30 June 2012. Retrieved 8 June 2012.
  11. ^ Melvern 2000.
  12. ^ Confessore, Nicholas (December 2000). "A PEOPLE BETRAYED: The Role of the West in Rwanda's Genocide. - Review – book review". Washington Monthly. Archived from the original on 12 July 2012. Retrieved 20 March 2022 – via Find Articles.
  13. ^ Lewis, Paul (23 November 1991). "How U.N. Nominee Won: 4 Switched". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 20 March 2022.
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 21 February 2020. Retrieved 20 March 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ Jentleson & Paterson 1997, p. 167.
  16. ^ "PM: UN chief should quit". New Straits Times. 23 April 1994.
  17. ^ Meierhenrich, Jens (2 January 2020). "How Many Victims Were There in the Rwandan Genocide? A Statistical Debate". Journal of Genocide Research. 22 (1): 72–82. doi:10.1080/14623528.2019.1709611. ISSN 1462-3528. S2CID 213046710.
  18. ^ Reydams, Luc (3 April 2021). "'More than a million': the politics of accounting for the dead of the Rwandan genocide". Review of African Political Economy. 48 (168): 235–256. doi:10.1080/03056244.2020.1796320. ISSN 0305-6244. S2CID 225356374.
  19. ^ Bowden 1999, pp. 83–84.
  20. ^ Crossette, Barbara (5 December 1996). "U.N. Leader Halts Bid for New Term but Does Not Quit". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 20 March 2022.
  21. ^ Goshko, John M. (19 November 1996). "U.S. Sides Against Second Term for U.N. Chief in Informal Vote". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 20 March 2022.
  22. ^ Crossette, Barbara (20 November 1996). "Round One in the U.N. Fight: A U.S. Veto of Boutros-Ghali". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 20 March 2022.
  23. ^ "The South Centre | Press release, 22 February 2016". Retrieved 21 March 2022.
  24. ^ "Egypt: NCHR Mourns Death of Boutros Ghali". AllAfrica. 21 February 2016. Retrieved 21 March 2022.
  25. ^ Diab, Khaled (17 February 2016). "Make diplomacy, not war". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 21 March 2022.
  26. ^ "Who's who in Egypt's reshuffled Human Rights Council – Politics – Egypt". Ahram Online. 4 September 2012. Retrieved 21 March 2022.
  27. ^ "Message from Dr. Boutros Boutros Ghali" (PDF). Campaign for the Establishment of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly. Retrieved 21 March 2022.
  28. ^ "The Jury | Fondation Chirac". Archived from the original on 22 October 2013. Retrieved 21 March 2022.
  29. ^ "Boutros Boutros-Ghali, former UN head, dies at 93". BBC News. 16 February 2016. Retrieved 21 March 2022.
  30. ^ Botelho, Greg (16 February 2016). "Former U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali dies". CNN. Retrieved 21 March 2022.
  31. ^ McFadden, Robert D. (16 February 2016). "Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Former U.N. Secretary General, Dies at 93". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 21 March 2022.
  32. ^ "How did Boutros-Ghali break his pelvis?". Google Bard. 10 November 2023. Retrieved 10 November 2023.
  33. ^ "Boutros-Ghali to be buried at family's Italian-style church". Egypt Independent. 17 February 2016. Retrieved 21 March 2022.
  34. ^ "At Home With: Boutros Boutros-Ghali". The New York Times. 20 July 1997. Retrieved 21 March 2022.
  35. ^ "Boutros Boutros-Ghali".
  36. ^ "Doctorats honoris causa".
  37. ^ "Boutros Boutros-Ghali".
  38. ^ "Arrêté du 24 septembre 1992 conférant le titre de docteur honoris causa".
  39. ^ "Docteurs honoris causa depuis 1951".
  40. ^ "Doctor of Philosophy, Honoris Causa".
  41. ^ "Doctor Honoris Causa".
  42. ^ "Order of Canada". Retrieved 12 August 2019.
  43. ^ "Mitterrand décore Boutros-Ghali". L'Humanité (in French). 27 October 1994. Retrieved 12 August 2019.
  44. ^ "Le onorificenze della Repubblica Italiana". (in Italian). Retrieved 12 August 2019.
  45. ^ "CUELLAR Javier Perez de". (in Portuguese). Retrieved 16 May 2022.



Further reading

Political offices
Preceded by Minister of Foreign Affairs

Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Foreign Affairs

Succeeded by
Positions in intergovernmental organisations
Preceded by Secretary-General of the United Nations
Succeeded by
Preceded byas Secretary-General of the Agence de Coopération Culturelle et Technique Secretary-General of La Francophonie
Succeeded by