A veteran Egyptian diplomat, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, who helped negotiate his country’s landmark peace deal with Israel but then clashed with the United States when he served a single term as U.N. secretary-general has passed away . He was 93.
In his heydays Boutros-Ghali, the scion of a prominent Egyptian Christian political family, was the first U.N. chief from the African continent. He stepped into the post in 1992 at a time of dramatic world changes, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the end of the Cold War and the beginning of a unipolar era dominated by the United States.
His five years at the helm remain controversial. He worked to establish the U.N.’s independence, particularly from the United States, at a time when the world body was increasingly called on to step into crises with peacekeeping forces, with limited resources. Some blame him for misjudgments in the failures to prevent genocides in Africa and the Balkans and mismanagement of reform in the world body.
After years of frictions with the Clinton administration, the United States blocked his renewal in the post in 1996, making him the only U.N. secretary-general to serve a single term. He was replaced by Ghanaian Kofi Annan.
In a U.N. Security Council session Tuesday, the 15 members held a moment of silence upon news of his death in a hospital in the Egyptian capital. He had been admitted after suffering a broken pelvis, Egypt’s Al-Ahram newspaper reported last week.
“The mark he has left on the organization is indelible,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said. He said Boutros-Ghali “brought formidable experience and intellectual power to the task of piloting the United Nations through one of the most tumultuous periods in its history.”