Former UN chief Boutros-Ghali dies at 93

Dr Boutros-Ghali was the only UN chief to be refused a second term. He headed the world body between 1992 and 1996.
Dr Boutros-Ghali was the only UN chief to be refused a second term. He headed the world body between 1992 and 1996.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

CAIRO • Egyptian Boutros Bou- tros-Ghali, who died at age 93, was the only United Nations Secretary-General to be refused a second term when he fell foul of Washington, despite the backing of the 14 other states in the Security Council.

The veteran diplomat, who died in a Cairo hospital, headed the world body between 1992 and 1996, when crises in Somalia, Rwanda, the Middle East and the former Yugoslavia posed challenges for UN peacekeeping operations.

His opponents focused on failings in the UN's approach to peacekeeping, while his supporters highlighted the difficult conditions laid down by major powers like the United States.

Dr Boutros-Ghali himself felt that Washington's veto was to punish him for pushing UN members to pay their membership arrears - an issue on which the US, which pays 25 per cent of the UN budget, had long been a culprit.

Indirectly, he had said the US was arrogant and compared its attitude to that of ancient Rome. "Like in Roman times, they have no diplomacy. You don't need diplomacy if you are so powerful," he said in an interview two days before Washington cast its veto. "How can I fight Goliath?" he asked.

'NO U.S . DIPLOMACY'

Like in Roman times, they have no diplomacy. You don't need diplomacy if you are so powerful... How can I fight Goliath?

DR BOUTROS BOUTROS-GHALI, indirectly accusing the US of arrogance.

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

After a university career centred on international relations, he became Egypt's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs in 1977, under President Anwar al-Sadat.

That year, he accompanied Mr Sadat on his historic trip to Jerusalem, which both forged peace between Egypt and Israel and led to Mr Sadat's assassination four years later.

Dr Boutros-Ghali became the UN's sixth Secretary-General and its first from the African continent in 1992.

Things began to go wrong in late 1993, when a US-led operation in Somalia led to casualties among American troops. The operation led to acrimony between the US authorities and the world body.

Further problems emerged during operations in the former Yugoslavia and after the genocidal massacres of 1994 in Rwanda, which the UN failed to halt.

After leaving the UN, Dr Boutros-Ghali served as secretary-general of Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (the community of French-speaking nations). He later became president of the Curatorium Administrative Council of the Hague Academy of International Law. He is survived by his Jewish wife Leia Maria. They have no children.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 18, 2016, with the headline 'Former UN chief Boutros-Ghali dies at 93'. Print Edition | Subscribe