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Former U.N. Chief Boutros Boutros-Ghali Dies at 93 | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Former U.N. Chief Boutros Boutros-Ghali Dies at 93

Former U.N. Chief Boutros Boutros-Ghali Dies at 93

Former U.N. Chief Boutros Boutros-Ghali Dies at 93

Former U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali has died aged 93 on Tuesday.

He passed away at a Cairo hospital after reportedly being admitted with a broken pelvis, Egypt’s state news agency said.

His death was confirmed by Rafael Ramirez, the Venezuelan ambassador to the UN and current president of the UN Security Council.

As an Egyptian, Mr Boutros-Ghali was the first Arab to serve as UN chief.

He took office in 1992 and served one five-year term as U.N. chief from 1992 to 1996.

The 15-member Security Council announced Boutrous-Ghali’s death at the start of a session on Yemen’s humanitarian crisis. They observed a minute’s silence after the announcement. No further details on his death were immediately available.

Egyptian press reported that Mr Boutros-Ghali had received a phone call from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi last Thursday, after being admitted to hospital.

As the United Nations’ first secretary-general from Africa, Boutros-Ghali led the world body during one of its most difficult times. He associated himself with the famine in Somalia and crisis in Rwanda, the Middle East and the former Yugoslavia and organized the first massive U.N. relief operation in the Horn of Africa nation.

However, success escaped him there and elsewhere as the United Nations faltered in an increasingly disorderly post-communist world, with the world body and the big Security Council powers underestimating the deep animosity behind many conflicts.

He was criticized for the U.N’s failure to act during the 1994 Rwandan Genocide and for not pushing hard enough for U.N. intervention to end Angola’s civil war in the 1990s, which was at the time one of the longest running conflicts in the world.

Boutros-Ghali found himself jeered in Sarajevo, Mogadishu and Addis Ababa. His style was to wade into crowds and confront protesters when security guards permitted. “I am used to fundamentalists in Egypt arguing with me,” he told Reuters.

He shocked many in Sarajevo when he said he was not trying to belittle the horrors in Bosnia but that there were other countries where the “total dead was greater than here.”

In Ethiopia, he told Somali warlords and clan leaders to stop accusing the United Nations and him of colonialism, adding that Somalis should be worried that former colonial powers would ignore their plight if they continued to fight.

“The Cold War is finished,” he said. “Nobody is interested in the poor countries in Africa or anywhere in the world. They can easily forget Somalia in 24 hours.”

The late Boutros-Ghali was born on 14 November 1922 into a Coptic Christian family in Cairo, and educated at Cairo University and in Paris, where he established a lifelong connection with France.

He went on to study international relations at Columbia University in New York and became Egypt’s foreign minister in 1977, under president Anwar al-Sadat.

After leaving the UN, Mr Boutros-Ghali served from 1998 to 2002 as secretary general of La Francophonie – a grouping of French-speaking nations.

In 2004, he was named the president of Egypt’s new human rights council, a body created by then-Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak amid US pressure on Arab nations for democratic reform.