Remembering Boutros Boutros-Ghali 1922 – 2016

Boutros ghali

16 February 2016 – 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 1990s and for helping shape the UN’s response to post-Cold War realities, drafting a seminal report on preventive diplomacy, peacemaking and peacekeeping.

Mr. 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.

His name, Boutros (Peter in English), is literal for rock. Boutros Boutros-Ghali started his career as a law professor at Cairo University, and went on to become Egypt’s State Minister of Foreign Affairs in 1977 – 1991. From 1992 to 1996 he was Secretary-General of the United Nations. He was head of the International Organisation of La Francophonie in 1997 – 2002, and of the National Council for Human Rights in 2003 – 2012. He won numerous Egyptian and international medals and honours, and was also head of Al-Ahram Centre for Strategic and Political Studies in 1975.


Boutros Boutros-Ghali was born into a well known Coptic family which was among the elite landed gentry of Girga in Upper Egypt.

The young Boutros Boutros-Ghali went to the Jesuit school in Cairo then studied law at Cairo University from which he obtained degree in 1946. In 1949, he earned a PhD in International Law from Paris University in addition to several diplomas in public law, economics and political science,. From 1949 to 1977, Dr Boutros-Ghali was Professor of International Law and International Relations at Cairo University where he headed the Political Science Department. In addition to his academic career, Dr Boutros-Ghali wrote more than 100 books and several articles in the fields of political science, international affairs and diplomacy.

Dr Boutros-Ghali was married to Leia Maria, née Nadler, an Egyptian Jew from a prominent family that owned the Nadler confectionary business before it was nationalised by the Egyptian government in the 1960s. He leaves no children.


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,” Mr. 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, 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.


Egypt will pay him last respects on Thursday 18 February where he will be given a military funeral to be followed with a funeral service at the church of St Peter and St Paul in Abbasiya, Cairo. The church was built by the Boutros-Ghali family at the outset of the 20th century and is known as al-Boutrossiya church; Boutros Boutros-Ghali will be buried with his ancestors in the Boutrossiya crypt.

The Australian Coptic Movement Association

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