Boutros-Ghali, former UN secretary general, dies at 93

Special to

Boutros Boutros-Ghali, who led the United Nations as secretary general in the 1990s, died on Feb. 16 in an Egyptian hospital. He was 93.

Current UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called Boutros-Ghali “a memorable leader who rendered invaluable services to world peace and international order.”

Boutros Boutros-Ghali
Boutros Boutros-Ghali

A senior minister to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his predecessor Anwar Sadat, Boutros-Ghali in 1992 became the sixth secretary general of the United Nations, the first African and the first Arab to hold the post.

Boutros-Ghali was denied a second term as secretary general after a veto by the administration of President Bill Clinton.

The former UN leader detailed his dicey relationship with the Clinton White House in his 1999 memoir “Unvanquished: A U.S.-U.N. Saga”. Boutros-Ghali said the Americans had told him “where not to travel, whom to avoid meeting and what to say and not say in speeches, and also to avoid ruffling Bill Clinton, whom he regarded as thin-skinned and indecisive.”

The Clinton White House often rebuffed Boutros-Ghali when he sought support for peacekeeping operations and when he tried to see the president and other officials to discuss what he called an “utterly confused” U.S. foreign policy.

In late 1996, the UN Security Council voted overwhelmingly to give Boutros-Ghali a second term but Madeleine Albright, in her last days as the American UN delegate, cast a decisive veto as one of the five permanent Council members. Boutros-Ghali is the only secretary general denied a second term.

In his memoir, Boutros-Ghali portrayed himself as a “dedicated civil servant hounded out of office by Mr. Clinton for election-year political gain.”

The General Assembly gave the departing secretary general a standing ovation as it ushered in his successor, Kofi Annan of Ghana. In his farewell address, Boutros-Ghali took member states to task for failing to deal with disasters in Somalia, Rwanda and Bosnia.

“The concept of peacekeeping was turned on its head,” he said, “and worsened by the serious gap between mandates and resources.”