Remembrance of a Secretary General

By Johannes Schroeten

The 1990’s were certainly remarkable years. The Soviet Union broke down, the Cold War ended and the world was on the edge of a new era, full of both hope and threat. In these tumultuous times, a new Secretary General of the United Nations was appointed in 1992. His name: Boutros Boutros- Ghali. The Egyptian, being the first Arab and African to hold the office of secretary general, soon faced a number of crises. In 1992, he issued his agenda for peace which urged the necessity for preventive diplomacy and humanitarian intervention.

However, the United Nations struggled to adhere to this agenda in Somalia, Jugoslavia and especially Rwanda by finding the right response. During Boutos – Ghali’s term, the United Nations faced massive criticism for their inactivity in the genocide in Rwanda and the maasacre of Srebenice as well as the failed UN-Mission in Somalia.

Nonetheless, the Secretary General positioned himself as firm advocate of peace and calm diplomacy.  Neither the NATO-bombing mission in Bosnia nor the Iraq war in 2003 had his approval. His strong opinion and independent appearance as Secretary General may also have influenced the United States in denying Boutos–Ghali a second term as UN in 1996, which made him the first UN Secretary General ever serving only one term.

boutros-ghali

Despite a difficult and troubled time in office, current secretary general Ban-Ki Moon remembered Boutros–Ghali as playing a key role in increasing the number of blue-helmet soldiers and the role of the UN in World politics.

Boutros–Ghali, born in 1922 into a coptic christian family, soon became an important networker and negotiator in Egyptian diplomacy. His greatest success was perhaps his role as architect of the Camp–David agreement in 1978 which was the base for the reconciliation between Israel and Egypt one year later. After he left office, Boutros–Ghali engaged himself in the International Organization of La Francophonie. Furthermore, he signed an appeal to initiate a parliamentary assembly of the United Nations, a first step towards a world parliament.

On 16th February 2016, Boutros Boutros – Ghali has died, aged 93.

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