His life before his appointment
Boutros-Ghali was a member of a distinguished Coptic Christian family, his grandfather was Egypt’s first Coptic prime minister, and his father had served as finance minister. He was a sophisticated intellectual, who had moved from academia to politics. Boutros-Ghali himself served as President Anwar Sadat’s minister of state for foreign affairs (1977-91) and then for a short time as deputy foreign minister, and was therefore fully experienced in international diplomacy before joining the UN.
He obtained a Bachelor of Laws degree received from Cairo University in 1946, a Ph.D. in International Law from Paris University in 1949, as well as separate diplomas in political science, economics and public law from Paris University. Between 1949 and 1977, Boutros-Ghali was Professor of International Law and International Relations at Cairo University and lectured on international law and international relations at universities all over the world. Additionally, he was a member of the International Law Commission from 1979 until 1991, a member of the International Institute of Human Rights, the African Society of Political Studies and the Académie des Sciences Morales et Politique in Paris.
Boutros-Ghali played a main role in the negotiations at the Camp David Summit Conference between Egypt and Israel in 1978, where he had proven his diplomatic competences with international affairs as a diplomat, jurist, scholar and widely published author at the same time.
His achievements as Secretary General
Boutros-Ghali started his term as Secretary General (1992- 1996) during a tumultuous time in international diplomacy. The period after the Cold War was characterized by an increase in conflicts leading to dramatic consequences such as the Rwandan Genocide, the break-up of Yugoslavia, and the civil-war in Somalia. It was a moment of significant uncertainty in which the bipolar configuration of world politics was being recast under a multipolar light. There was on the one hand a quantitative transformation as more peacekeeping missions were approved and mandates given and more countries contributed to peacekeeping operations. On the other hand, a qualitative transformation occurred, as peacekeeping operations became more complex, adding humanitarian aid and state-building components. As a Secretary General, Boutros-Ghali therefore initiated reforms which the UN´s ability to adapt to the new security environment.
After being in office for two months, Boutros-Ghali established the Department for Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and appointed Kofi Annan as its Head. One of his biggest contributions was his report “An Agenda for Peace” of 1992. This was a plan for the UN to start examining socio-economic dimensions of Peacekeeping in a more integrated way, especially in the aftermath of conflict. Boutros-Ghali termed the concept “post-conflict peace-building,” which entailed new ways of approaching post-conflict scenarios. These new lenses paved the way for strengthening an agenda known as disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration, providing a so called integrated approach. This led to an overall change of conceptualization of Peacekeeping, making it one out of four tools to resolve and prevent conflict. The others being preventive diplomacy, peace-making and peacebuilding.
As there were more missions, Boutros-Ghali campaigned for increased funding. Moreover, he pressured for permanent peace enforcement units which should be placed on call for the use of operations by the Security Council. He envisaged them more heavily armed than “normal“ peacekeeping operations. He was however not able to implement this plan.
Additionally, Boutros-Ghali formulated an Agenda for Development and an Agenda for Democratisation.
Boutros-Ghali´s term was controversial and criticized especially from the United States. He was accused of having ignored multiple warnings in Rwanda and Bosnia. The Clinton administration and Europe pushed responsibility for those tragic events to the UN, which accepted missions that it was incapable of fulfilling. As a result, thousands of innocent civilians died, while the United Nations, through a combination of impotence and negligence, did nothing to stop the massacres were thousands of civilians were murdered. Boutros-Ghali himself highlighted the reluctance of states to provide troops and implement mandates as one of the main reasons for the failure of the operations.
Those tragic events were the reasons why Boutros-Ghali was the only Secretary General only serving one term, as the Clinton administration announced its opposition to a second term. Shortly before the veto was used against him, he stated: “Like in Roman times, they have no diplomacy. You don’t need diplomacy if you are so powerful…How can I fight Goliath?”. Following the veto, Egypt and France both issued statements of support for Boutros-Ghali. He was succeeded by Kofi Annan (1997-2006).
To conclude, besides all criticism, his report “An Agenda for Peace”, continues to significantly influence UN thinking, and his expansion of the Peacekeeping´s scope is still praised today.
Bellamy, Alex and Williams, Paul. Understanding Peacekeeping, 2nd ed., Cambridge: PolityBooks, 2010. Print. pp. 17, 100, 103 & 111.
Boutros-Ghali, Boutros. “Agenda For Peace”. UN., 1992. Web. 21 Feb. 2016. http://www.un.org/en/sc/repertoire/89-92/Chapter%208/GENERAL%20ISSUES/Item%2029_Agenda%20for%20peace_.pdf.
“Former United Nations Secretary-General: Boutros Boutros-Ghali”, United Nations, 2014. Web. 20 Feb. 2016. http://www.un.org/sg/formersg/ghali.shtml.
Helms, Jesse. “Saving The U.N.: A Challenge To The Next Secretary-General”. Foreign Affairs. 1996. Web. 21 Feb. 2016. https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/1996-09-01/saving-un-challenge-next-secretary-general.
O´Connell, Joe. “Boutros Boutros-Ghali’S Biggest Achievement Was ‘Largely Unheralded’ | News Northeastern”. Northeastern.edu., 2016. Web. 20 Feb. 2016. http://www.northeastern.edu/news/2016/02/3qs-boutros-boutros-ghalis-biggest-achievement-was-largely-unheralded/.
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Pruitt, Lesley. “Vale Boutros Boutros-Ghali: Former UN Chief And Key Thinker On Peacekeeping”. Lowyinterpreter.org, 2016. Web. 20 Feb. 2016.http://www.lowyinterpreter.org/post/2016/02/18/Vale-Boutros-Boutros-Ghali-Former-UN-chief-and-key-thinker-on-peacekeeping.aspx.