Cairo, Feb 16 (IANS) Former United Nations secretary general Boutros Boutros-Ghali died at a hospital here on Tuesday, officials said. He was 93. UN chief Ban Ki-moon hailed him as a “respected statesman” and a “memorable leader who rendered invaluable services to world peace and international order”.
Boutros-Ghali was earlier admitted to the hospital with a broken pelvis, BBC reported citing Egypt’s state news agency.
His death was confirmed by Rafael Dario Ramirez Carreno, the Venezuelan ambassador to the UN and current president of the UN Security Council.
A former Egyptian foreign minister, Boutros-Ghali was the first Arab to serve as UN chief.
He took office in 1992 at a time of increasing influence for the world body following its decisive role in the Gulf War, serving a five-year term.
“I am deeply saddened to learn of the death of my predecessor, Boutros Boutros-Ghali,” Ban said in a statement.
Boutros-Ghali “was a respected statesman” and a “well-known scholar of international law and brought formidable experience and intellectual power to the task of piloting the United Nations through one of the most tumultuous and challenging periods in its history, and guiding the Organization of the Francophonie in subsequent years”.
Ban said that as secretary-general, Boutros-Ghali “presided over a dramatic rise in UN peacekeeping”, and when the world “increasingly turned to the UN for solutions to its problems, in the immediate aftermath of the cold war”.
“His commitment to the UN — its mission and its staff — was unmistakable, and the mark he has left on the organisation is indelible,” Ban said.
Boutros-Ghali led the UN during one of its most difficult times, with crises in Somalia, Rwanda, the Middle East and the former Yugoslavia.
Born on November 14, 1922 into a Coptic Christian family in Cairo, he was educated at Cairo University and in Paris.
He later studied international relations at Columbia University in New York and became Egypt’s foreign minister in 1977 under then president Anwar al-Sadat.
After leaving the UN, Boutros-Ghali served from 1998 to 2002 as secretary general of La Francophonie, a grouping of French-speaking nations.
In 2004, he was named president of Egypt’s human rights council, a body created by then Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. Ghali resigned in 2011, the year Mubarak was ousted by a popular uprising.