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Boutros Boutros-Ghali (1922 - 2016)

Getty Images / Gamma-Rapho / Jean-Michel Turpin

Boutros Boutros-Ghali (1922 - 2016)

Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the Egyptian scholar, statesman and former secretary-general of the United Nations, died Tuesday, Feb. 16. He was 93.

Boutros-Ghali became the sixth secretary-general of the United Nations Jan. 1, 1992. Despite the end of the Cold War, his term was fraught with international crises, including the breakup of Yugoslavia, genocide in Rwanda and several other civil wars in Africa. He initiated several reform efforts at the U.N. and broadened peacekeeping missions around the world.

He was born Nov. 14, 1922, in Cairo, Egypt, to a wealthy and politically connected Coptic Christian family. Boutros-Ghali's grandfather, Boutros Ghali, served as prime minister of Egypt from 1908 until he was assassinated in 1910.


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After graduating from Cairo University in 1946, Boutros-Ghali studied at the University of Paris, receiving a doctorate in international law in 1949. He spent several decades as a well-respected international law scholar before being appointed Egypt's minister of state for foreign affairs in 1977. He played a role in forging the groundbreaking peace treaty between Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin.

In 1991, he was nominated for and won the position of U.N. secretary-general, largely through the support of developing nations rather than traditional powers. He proved to be an independent secretary-general and faced opposition from the United States, who disagreed with his handling of peacekeeping missions in Bosnia and the Rwandan genocide. The United States, as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, blocked his re-election to a second term with a veto in 1996.

After leaving the U.N., Boutros-Ghali served in leadership positions for several international organizations including La Francophonie, South Centre and The Hague Academy of International Law. He lent his support to the Campaign for the Establishment of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly, an effort to extend democratic representation to the United Nations.

Boutros-Ghali is survived by his wife, Leia Maria Boutros-Ghali.

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