Goodbye to Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Africa’s first Secretary General of the UN

Boutros Boutros-Ghali (Source: The Guardian)

It seemed quite unfair not to say a few words about the passing of Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the first African to serve as the United Nations (UN) Secretary General. Boutros Boutros-Ghali was the first Egyptian, and the first African to serve in such a position from 1 Jan 1992 to 31 Dec 1996. True, he only served one term, and was faced with the wrath of the US because of his refusal to support NATO’s bombing in Bosnia, and the UN lame response during the genocide in Rwanda.

Bill Clinton and Boutros Boutros-Ghali (Source: The Guardian)

His five years in office were clouded by controversy, especially about perceived UN inaction over the 1994 Rwandan Genocide and Angolan Civil War of the 1990s. He served at a time of crises in Somalia, Rwanda, the Middle East, and the former Yugoslavia. To some, he was an effective diplomat who was caught in a rift between the UN and the United States. Others, most notably in Washington, saw him as a symbol of all that was wrong with the United Nations. Boutros-Ghali wrote in his memoir, Unvanquished: A US-UN Saga (1999), about his tenure at the UN, and the disappointments he suffered there.

According to many, his biggest diplomatic accomplishment pre-dates his time as UN Secretary General, when he served as Egypt’s foreign minister under President Anwar El Sadat, and played a key role in negotiating the Camp David agreement brokered by the US president Jimmy Carter. The Guardian published a nice piece on Boutros Boutros-Ghali‘s life and legacy. So long to this son of Egypt.


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