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Boutros Boutros-Ghali
Ⲡⲉⲧⲣⲟⲥ Ⲡⲉⲧⲣⲟⲥ-Ⲅⲁⲗⲓ
بطرس بطرس غالي
Boutros-Ghali at UNESCO in Paris, 2002
Secretary-General of the United Nations
In office
1 January 1992 – 31 December 1996
Preceded by Javier Pérez de Cuéllar
Succeeded by Kofi Annan
Secretary-General of La Francophonie
In office
16 November 1997 – 31 December 2002
Preceded by Jean-Louis Roy as Secretary General of the ACCT
Succeeded by Abdou Diouf
Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
17 September 1978 – 17 February 1979
Prime Minister
  • Mamdouh Salem
  • Mustafa Khalil
Preceded by Muhammad Ibrahim Kamel
Succeeded by Mustafa Khalil
In office
17 November 1977 – 15 December 1977
Prime Minister Mamdouh Salem
Preceded by Ismail Fahmi
Succeeded by Muhammad Ibrahim Kamel
Personal details
Born (1922-11-14)14 November 1922
Cairo, Kingdom of Egypt
Died 16 February 2016(2016-02-16) (aged 93)
Cairo, Egypt
Political party
  • ASU (before 1978)
  • NDP (1978–2011)
  • Independent (2011–2016)
Alma mater

Boutros Boutros-Ghali (/ˈbtrɒs ˈɡɑːli/; Coptic: Ⲡⲉⲧⲣⲟⲥ Ⲡⲉⲧⲣⲟⲥ-Ⲅⲁⲗⲓ; Arabic: بطرس بطرس غالي, romanized: Buṭrus Buṭrus Ghālī, Egyptian Arabic: [ˈbotɾos ˈɣæːli]; 14 November 1922 – 16 February 2016) was an Egyptian politician and diplomat who served as the sixth Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) from 1992 to 1996. An academic who previously served as acting foreign minister and vice foreign minister of Egypt, Boutros-Ghali oversaw the UN over a period coinciding with several world crises, including the Breakup of Yugoslavia and the Rwandan genocide. He went on to serve as the first Secretary-General of La Francophonie from 1997 to 2002.

Early life and education

Boutros Boutros-Ghali (1980)
Boutros Boutros-Ghali on 19 June 1980.

Boutros Boutros-Ghali was born in Cairo, Egypt, on 14 November 1922 into a Coptic Orthodox Christian family. His father Yusuf Butros Ghali was the son of Boutros Ghali Bey then Pasha (also his namesake), who was Prime Minister of Egypt from 1908 until he was assassinated in 1910. His mother, Safela Mikhail Sharubim, was daughter of Mikhail Sharubim (1861–1920), a prominent public servant and historian. The young boy was brought up by a Slovenian nanny, one of the so-called Aleksandrinke [sl]; he was closer to Milena, "his invaluable friend and confidant", than to his own mother.

Boutros-Ghali graduated from Cairo University in 1946. He received a PhD in international law from the Faculty of Law of Paris (University of Paris) and diploma in international relations from Sciences Po in 1949. During 1949–1979, he was appointed Professor of International Law and International Relations at Cairo University. He became President of the Centre of Political and Strategic Studies in 1975 and President of the African Society of Political Studies in 1980. He was a Fulbright Research Scholar at Columbia University from 1954 to 1955, Director of the Centre of Research at The Hague Academy of International Law from 1963 to 1964, and Visiting Professor at the Faculty of Law at the Faculty of Law of Paris from 1967 to 1968. In 1986 he received an honorary doctorate from the Faculty of Law at Uppsala University, Sweden. He was also the Honorary Rector of the Graduate Institute of Peace Studies, a branch of Kyunghee University Seoul.

Political career

Boutros Boutros-Ghali et Moshe Dayan Strasbourg 10 octobre 1979
Boutros-Ghali (left) and Moshe Dayan at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, 1979

Boutros-Ghali's political career developed during the presidency of Anwar Sadat. He was a member of the Central Committee of the Arab Socialist Union from 1974 to 1977. He served as Egypt's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs from 1977 until early 1991. He then became Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs for several months before moving to the UN. As Minister of State, he played a part in the peace agreements between President Sadat and Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin.

According to investigative journalist Linda Melvern, Boutros-Ghali approved a secret $26 million arms sale to the government of Rwanda in 1990 when he was foreign minister, the weapons stockpiled by the Hutu regime as part of the fairly public, long-term preparations for the subsequent genocide. He was serving as UN secretary-general when the killings occurred four years later.

United Nations Secretary-General

1991 selection

Boutros-Ghali ran for Secretary-General of the United Nations in the 1991 selection. The top post in the UN was opening up as Javier Pérez de Cuéllar of Peru reached the end of his second term, and Africa was next in the rotation. Boutros-Ghali tied Bernard Chidzero of Zimbabwe in the first two rounds of polling, edged ahead by one vote in round 3, and fell behind by one vote in round 4. After several countries withdrew their support for Chidzero, fed by fears that the United States was trying to eliminate both of the leading candidates, Boutros-Ghali won a clear victory in round 5.

Tenure (1992–1996)

Boutros-Ghali, Klaus Schwab, Flavio Cotti - World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 1995
Boutros-Ghali, Klaus Schwab and Flavio Cotti at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, 1995

Boutros-Ghali's term in office remains controversial. In 1992, he submitted An Agenda for Peace, a suggestion for how the UN could respond to violent conflict. He set three goals: for the UN to be more active in promoting democracy, for the UN to conduct preventative diplomacy to avert crises, and to expand the UN's role as peacekeeper. Although the goals were consistent with those of US president George H. W. Bush, he nevertheless clashed repeatedly with the United States, especially with his efforts to involve the UN more deeply in the civil wars in Somalia (1992) and in Rwanda (1994). The United States refused to send peace enforcement units under UN leadership.

Boutros-Ghali was criticised for the UN's failure to act during the 1994 Rwandan genocide, during which over a half million people were killed. Boutros-Ghali also appeared unable to muster support in the UN for intervention in the continuing Angolan Civil War. One of the hardest tasks during his term was dealing with the crisis of the Yugoslav Wars after the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia. The UN peacekeeping force was ineffective in Bosnia and Herzegovina, forcing the intervention by NATO in December 1995. His reputation became entangled in the larger controversies over the effectiveness of the UN and the role of the United States in the UN.

Ghali c
Boutros Ghali in his office in the United Nations Secretariat (1994).

Some Somalis believed he was responsible for an escalation of the Somalia crisis by undertaking a personal vendetta against Mohamed Farrah Aidid and his Habar Gidir clan, favouring their rivals the Darod, the clan of the former dictator Siad Barre. It was believed that he demanded the 12 July 1993 US helicopter attack on a meeting of Habar Gidir clan leaders, who were meeting to discuss a peace initiative put forward by the leader of the UN Mission in Mogadishu, retired US Admiral Jonathan Howe. It is generally believed that the majority of the clan elders were eager to arrange a peace and to rein in the provocative activities of their clan leader Aidid, but, after this attack on a peaceful meeting, the clan was resolved on fighting the Americans and the UN, leading to the Battle of Mogadishu on 3–4 October 1993.

Second term vetoed

Boutros-Ghali ran unopposed for the customary second term in 1996, despite efforts by the United States to unseat him. US ambassador Madeleine Albright asked Boutros-Ghali to resign and offered to establish a foundation for him to run, an offer that other Western diplomats called "ludicrous". American diplomatic pressure also had no effect, as other members of the Security Council remained unwavering in their support for Boutros-Ghali. He won 14 of the 15 votes in the Security Council, but the sole negative vote was a US veto. After four deadlocked meetings of the Security Council, France offered a compromise in which Boutros-Ghali would be appointed to a short term of two years, but the United States rejected the French offer. Finally, Boutros-Ghali suspended his candidacy, becoming the second Secretary-General ever to be denied a re-election by a veto, with Kurt Waldheim being the first.

Later life

Boutros-Ghali with Naela Chohan at UNESCO in Paris, 2002

From 1997 to 2002, Boutros-Ghali was Secretary-General of La Francophonie, an organisation of French-speaking nations. From 2002 to 2005, he served as the chairman of the board of the South Centre, an intergovernmental research organisation of developing countries. Boutros-Ghali played a "significant role" in creating Egypt's National Council for Human Rights, and served as its president until 2012.

Boutros-Ghali supported the Campaign for the Establishment of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly and was one of the initial signatories of the Campaign's appeal in 2007. In a message to the Campaign, he stressed the necessity to establish democratic participation of citizens at the global level. From 2009 to 2015 he also participated as jury member for the Conflict Prevention Prize, awarded every year by the Fondation Chirac.

Personal life and death

Boutros-Ghali's wife, Leia Maria Nadler, was raised in an Egyptian Jewish family in Alexandria and converted to Catholicism as a young woman.

Boutros-Ghali died aged 93 in a Cairo hospital, after having been admitted for a broken pelvis or leg, on 16 February 2016. A military funeral was held for him with prayers led by Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria. He is buried at Petrine Church in Abbassia, Cairo.

Honorary degrees

Stamps of Turkmenistan, 1996 - President Saparmyrat Niyazov of Turkmenistan and Boutros-Ghali
Boutros Boutros Ghali in a stamp of Turkmenistan (1996).

He received an honorary degree from and Uppsala University.

Awards and recognition

  • The World Affairs Council Christian A. Herter memorial award, Boston (March 1993)
  • The Arthur A. Houghton Jr. Star Crystal Award for Excellence de l'Institut afro- américain, New York (November 1993)
  • Member of the Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques
  • Honorary membership of the Order of Canada
  • Honorary membership of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, Moscow (April 1994)
  • Honorary foreign membership of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow (April 1994)
  • Honorary foreign membership of the Academy of Sciences of Belarus, Minsk (April 1994)
  • Fellow of Berkeley College, Yale University (March 1995)
  • The recipient of the Onassis Award for International Understanding and Social Achievement (July 1995)


National honours

Ribbon Description Year
EGY Order of the Nile - Grand Cordon BAR.png Grand Collar of the Order of the Nile [year needed]
EGY Order of the Republic - Grand Cordon BAR.png Grand Cordon of the Order of the Arab Republic of Egypt [year needed]
EGY Order of Merit - Grand Cross BAR.png Grand Cross of the Order of Merit [year needed]

Foreign honours

Ribbon Country Honour Year
ARG Order of the Liberator San Martin - Grand Cross BAR.png Argentina Grand Cross of the Order of the Liberator General San Martín [year needed]
Grand Crest Ordre de Leopold.png Belgium Grand Cordon of the Order of Leopold [year needed]
BRA - Order of the Southern Cross - Grand Cross BAR.svg Brazil Grand Cross of the Order of the Southern Cross [year needed]
CAN Order of Canada Companion ribbon.svg Canada Companion of the Order of Canada 2003
CAR Ordre de la Reconnaissance Centrafricaine GC ribbon Central African Republic Grand Cross of the Order of Central African recognition [year needed]
CHL Order of Merit of Chile - Grand Cross BAR.svg Chile Grand Cross of the National Order of Merit [year needed]
Order of Boyacá - Extraordinary Grand Cross (Colombia) - ribbon bar.png Colombia Grand Cross of the Order of Boyaca [year needed]
Order of the Elephant Ribbon bar.svg Denmark Knight of the Order of the Elephant [year needed]
Ribbon bar of Orden Nacional de San Lorenzo.png Ecuador Grand Cross of the National Order of San Lorenzo [year needed]
National Order of José Matias Delgado (El Salvador) - ribbon bar.gif El Salvador Grand Cross with Silver Star of the Order of José Matías Delgado [year needed]
Legion Honneur GC ribbon.svg France Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour 1994
GER Bundesverdienstkreuz 9 Sond des Grosskreuzes Germany Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany [year needed]
GRE Order Redeemer 1Class.png Greece Grand Cross of the Order of the Redeemer [year needed]
Cordone di gran Croce di Gran Cordone OMRI BAR.svg Italy Knight Grand Cross with Collar Order of Merit of the Italian Republic 1982
Cote d'Ivoire Ordre du merite ivoirien GC ribbon.svg Côte d'Ivoire Grand Cross of the Order of Ivory Merit [year needed]
JPN Daikun'i kikkasho BAR.svg Japan Grand Cordon of the Order of the Chrysanthemum [year needed]
LUX Order of Merit of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg - Grand Cross BAR.png Luxembourg Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg [year needed]
Mali Ordre national du Mali GC ribbon.svg Mali Grand Cross of the National Order of Mali [year needed]
MEX Order of the Aztec Eagle 1Class BAR Mexico Grand Cross of the Order of the Aztec Eagle [year needed]
Most Refulgent Order of the Star of Nepal.PNG Nepal Grand Commander of the Order of the Star of Nepal [year needed]
St Olavs Orden storkors stripe.svg Norway Grand Cross of the Order of St. Olav 1994
PER Order of the Sun of Peru - Grand Cross BAR.png Peru Grand Cross of the Order of the Sun of Peru [year needed]
PRT Order of Prince Henry - Grand Cross BAR.png Portugal Grand Cross of the Order of Prince Henry 1996
Ordre de la Pléiade (Francophonie).gif Quebec Grand Cross of the Order of La Pléiade 2002
ROU Order of the Star of Romania 1999 GCross BAR Romania Grand Cross of the Order of the Star of Romania 2001
SEN Order of the Lion – Grand Cross BAR Senegal Grand Cross of the National Order of the Lion [year needed]
Grand Order of Mugunghwa (South Korea) - ribbon bar.gif South Korea Grand Cross of the Grand Order of Mugunghwa [year needed]
MaltaBali Sovereign Military Order of Malta Grand Cross of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta [year needed]
Order of the Polar Star (after 1975) - Commander Grand Cross.svg Sweden Grand Cross of the Order of the Polar Star [year needed]
VAT Order of Pope Pius IX Cav BAR.svg Holy See Knight of the Order of Pope Pius IX 1993

Published works

As Secretary-General, Boutros-Ghali wrote An Agenda for Peace. He also published other memoirs:

In English

  • The Arab League, 1945–1955: Ten Years of Struggle, ed. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, New York, 1954
  • New Dimensions of Arms Regulations and Disarmament in the Post Cold War, ed. United Nations, New York, 1992
  • An Agenda for Development, ed. United Nations, New York, 1995
  • Confronting New Challenges, ed. United Nations, New York, 1995
  • Fifty Years of the United Nations, ed. William Morrow, New York, 1995
  • The 50th Anniversary: Annual Report on the Work of the Organization, ed. United Nations, New York, 1996
  • An Agenda for Democratization, ed. United Nations, New York, 1997
  • Egypt's Road to Jerusalem: A Diplomat's Story of the Struggle for Peace in the Middle East, ed. Random House, New York, 1998
  • Essays on Leadership (with George H. W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Desmond Tutu), ed. Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict, Washington, 1998
  • Unvanquished: A US-UN Saga, ed. I. B. Tauris, New York, 1999
  • The Papers of United Nations Secretary (with Charles Hill), ed. Yale University Press, New York, 2003
  • The Arab League, 1945–1955: International Conciliation,, ed. Literary Licensing Publisher, London, 2013

In French

  • Contribution à l'étude des ententes régionales, ed. Pedone, Paris, 1949
  • Cours de Diplomatie et de Droit Diplomatique et consulaire, ed. Librairie Anglo-égyptienne, Cairo, 1951
  • Le problème du canal de Suez, ed. Société égyptienne du droit international, Cairo, 1957
  • Le principe d'égalité des États et des organisations internationales, ed. Académie de droit international, Leiden, 1961
  • Contribution à une théorie générale des alliances, ed. Pedone, Paris, 1963
  • Le Mouvement afro-asiatique, ed. Presses universitaires de France, Paris, 1969
  • L'organisation de l'Unité africaine, ed. Armand Colin, Paris, 1969
  • Les difficultés institutionnelles du panafricanisme, ed. Institut Universitaire des Hautes études Internationales, Geneva, 1971
  • Les conflits des frontières en Afrique, ed. Techniques et Économiques, Paris, 1972
  • Contribution à une théorie générale des alliances, ed. Pedone, Paris, 1991
  • L'interaction démocratie et développement [eds.], ed. Unesco, Paris, 2002
  • Démocratiser la mondialisation, ed. Rocher, Paris, 2002
  • Émanciper la Francophonie, ed. L'Harmattan, Paris, 2003
  • 60 Ans de conflit israélo-arabe : Témoignages pour l'Histoire (with Shimon Peres), ed. Complexes, Paris, 2006

See also

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