Just as Americans were already in the midst of coming to grips with the loss of one of their most influential judges, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the world took to mourning the loss of one of its most influential leaders. The current head of the U.N. Security Council, Rafael Ramírez Carreño of Venezuela, announced on Tuesday to security council member representatives the passing of former U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, who was 93 years old. So who was Boutros Boutros-Ghali? The former U.N. Secretary General left a legacy promoting a global commitment to international diplomacy.
Boutros-Ghali was named the sixth secretary general of the United Nations in 1992 and was the first African and first Arab to take on the role. Born in Egypt in 1922, Boutros-Ghali served as the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs for the Egyptian government for close to 15 years before transitioning to his position at the United Nations. He proved his belief in diplomacy as a functional tool for government representatives when he provided assistance in setting up the Camp David Accords, a set of peace agreements between Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin that were signed in 1978.
However, his term as U.N. Secretary General would bring Boutros-Ghali numerous criticisms for his inability to stop violent conflicts across the African continent and in other countries around the globe. Reports by British investigative journalist Linda Melvern claimed Boutros-Ghali had approved a $26 million sale of arms to Rwanda in his previous position in Egypt, a deal that provided the government regime weapons for the genocide that would take place four years later. Additionally, member states didn't agree to the former secretary general's appeals to intervene in the Angolan Civil War.
Tensions with member states over the myriad problems the world presented may have prevented Boutros-Ghali from continuing his work at the international organization. The United States vetoed a nomination by Security Council members to elect Boutros-Ghali again at the end of his five-year term, making him the only U.N. Secretary General to not serve a second term.
Current Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told reporters at the United Nations on Tuesday that Boutros-Ghali was "a memorable leader who rendered invaluable services to world peace and international order." Ban also stated that Boutros-Ghali showed courage when confronting member states and an "unmistakable" commitment to his role within the the intergovernmental organization.
Mr. Boutros-Ghali was admitted to a hospital in Giza with a broken leg several days before his death, Egypt's state-owned news organization, Al Ahram, reported on its website. Egyptian and U.N. officials have not yet provided further detail on the former secretary general's passing. Boutros-Ghali and his wife, Leia, had no children.