Oxford University Press - Online Resource Centres

Young & Kent: International Relations since 1945 2e

Boutros Boutros-Ghali

Boutros Boutros-Ghali was born on 14 November 1922 in Cairo, into a Coptic Christian family. His father, Yusuf, had served as the national finance minister and his grandfather, Boutros, as Egypt’s prime minister. He obtained a doctorate in international law from Paris and also a diploma in international relations from the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris. In 1949, he was appointed professor of International Law and International Relations at Cairo University, a position he held till 1977. From 1974 to 1977 Boutros-Ghali was a member of the Central Committee and Political Bureau of the Arab Socialist Union. Between October 1977 and 1991 he was the Egyptian Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and headed his country’s delegation to the UN General Assembly in 1979, 1982 and 1990. He also attended the meetings of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries. Boutros-Ghali had also a role in negotiating the Camp David accords that produced a peace settlement between Egypt and Israel in 1979. Between 1979 and 1991 he served as a member of the International Law Commission and was a former member of the International Commission of Jurists. Between May and December 1991 Boutros-Ghali was Egypt’s Deputy Prime Minister for Foreign Affairs. On 1 January 1992 he became the sixth Secretary-General of the United Nations, a post he held until December 1996, becoming the first Arab and the first African to hold this office. However, his time at the UN remains controversial and he has been criticised for the UN’s ineffectiveness in resolving the crisis in the former Yugoslavia. The lack of action during the 1994 Rwandan genocide and the continuing civil war in Angola have also been seen as notable failures. African states and some Security Council members supported a resolution for him to serve for a second term of office but the US declared its intention to veto his re-election. Indeed, he was the first UN Secretary General not to be elected for a second term in office. Afterwards Boutros-Ghali became Secretary-General of La Francophonie, an organization of French-speaking nations.