Boutros-Ghali, Boutros

Boutros-Ghali, Boutros (1922- ), United Nations (UN) secretary general from 1992 to 1996, born in Egypt, educated at the Sorbonne and at Columbia University. After a career as a law professor and journalist, Boutros-Ghali served as Egypt's minister of state from 1977 to 1991 and then as Egypt's deputy prime minister. A skilled diplomat, he accompanied Egyptian president Anwar al-Sadat on Sadat's historic trip to Israel in 1977 and played a major role in the Camp David talks that led to the 1979 Arab-Israeli peace accord. Fluent in French, English, and Arabic, and a specialist on Third World development, he wrote essays on the unequal distribution of wealth between rich and poor countries and on the relationship of water conservation to political stability in Africa and the Middle East. Boutros-Ghali was influential in resolving several African conflicts and in helping to secure the release of South African political activist Nelson Mandela from a South African prison in 1990.

Nominated by the UN Security Council in November 1991 to become the UN's sixth secretary general, he was both the first African and the first Arab ever nominated to that post. He succeeded Javier Pérez de Cuéllar of Peru on January 1, 1992, for a five-year term. Boutros-Ghali faced not only financial challenges within the United Nations but also world economic, ethnic, and environmental problems during a time when the United Nations was expected to play a key post-Cold War role in ensuring collective security and in settling regional disputes.

Boutros-Ghali expressed his belief that the United Nations Security Council members were more concerned about the problems in developed nations than those in Third World countries. He created controversy in July 1992 when he contrasted the Security Council's concern about civil war in the former Yugoslavia with its alleged indifference to the crisis in Somalia. In November of that year he supported the use of United States troops to impose peace in Somalia. His tendency to be outspoken with the Security Council made him unpopular with some of its members. In 1996 the United States vetoed his candidacy for a second term.


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