Egyptian former UN secretary-general Boutrous Ghali dies at 94

Ahram Online , Tuesday 16 Feb 2016

Ghali, Egypt's state minister of foreign affair from 1977 to 1991, was the first African and Arab secretary-general of the United Nations

Boutros Ghali
Former U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali talks to reporters during a press conference at the Foreign Affairs building March 4, 1996 in Mexico City (Reuters)

Former United Nations secretary-general and Egyptian diplomat Boutrous Boutrous Ghaly died in a Giza hospital on Tuesday at the age of 94.

Ghali served in the UN’s top office from 1992 to 1996 as the first African and Arab secretary-general.

Ghali came from a family with a long diplomatic history. His grandfather, the late Boutrous Ghaly, occupied the positions of Egyptian finance minister, foreign affairs minister and finally prime minister in 1908 until his assassination in 1910.

Ghali followed in his grandfather’s footsteps in his diplomatic career, serving as minister of state for foreign affairs from 1977 until 1991.

He was also a member of parliament in 1987 and part of the secretariat of the National Democratic Party from 1980.

From 2003 to 2012, Ghali was the director of the Egyptian National Council for Human Rights.

Aside from his political and diplomatic career, Ghali is known as a prominent writer with over six books, mostly on international politics and the peace process in the Middle East.

His book Egypt's Book to Jerusalem is considered one of the most important books detailing the Camp David talks between Egypt and Israel, with details previously unknown to the public.

In 1966, Ghali founded and headed the Al-Ahram Institution Arabic quarterly magazine 'The International Politics,' which is specialised in political analysis. 

A few days before his death, Ghali was hospitalised with a broken leg.

Sisi mourns Ghali

Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi mourned Ghali in an official statement shortly after the announcement of his death.

"Egypt and the world have lost today a fine political and legal figure that gave a lot through a long international political career, whether as a diplomat, an international legal expert or an author," the Egyptian presidency said in its statement.

"The late Ghali made several contributions in international law, human rights and social as well as economic developments, in addition to his role in the Camp David negotiations that contributed to returning beloved Sinai to Egypt," the president said, referring to Ghali's role in the Camp David talks between Egypt and Israel in the late 1970s.

Ghali was Egypt's acting minister of foreign affairs in 1977 and the head of the negotiating team during the Camp David talks.

President El-Sisi added that Africa would not forget Ghali's role in developing its countries.

Egypt's Prime Minister Sherif Ismail also issued a statement mourning Ghali. 

The Egyptian ministry of foreign affairs also mourned his death in a statement issued Tuesday evening, describing him as "the dean of Egyptian diplomacy." 

Ghali is survived by his wife Leia Maria Ghali Nadler.

Short link: