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Former United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali dead at 93

Former UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, whose term was marked by war in the former Yugoslavia and famine and genocide in Africa, has died, the president of the Security Council said on Tuesday. He was 93.

The 15-member Security Council observed a minute's silence after the death was announced by Venezuelan UN Ambassador Rafael Dario Ramirez Carreno, head of the Security Council for February. No details were given.

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UN: Boutros-Ghali a 'respected statesman'

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon remembers former UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali as a "respected statesmen."

An Egyptian, Boutros-Ghali served as UN chief from 1992 to 1996.

As the United Nations' first secretary-general from Africa, Boutros-Ghali associated himself with the famine in Somalia and organised the first massive UN relief operation in the Horn of Africa nation.

The UN Security Council has announced former United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali has died at the age ...
The UN Security Council has announced former United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali has died at the age of 93. Photo: AP

But success eluded him there and elsewhere as the United Nations struggled in an increasingly disorderly post-communist world, with the world body and the big Security Council powers underestimating the deep animosity behind many conflicts.

He had a reputation for being prickly, and US displeasure with him was the driving force in his departure.

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Earlier, Boutros-Ghali had worked for Egyptian presidents Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak. He accompanied Sadat on the historic 1977 visit to Jerusalem and played a prominent role in the subsequent Camp David accords on the Middle East.

He was criticised for the UN's failure to act during the 1994 Rwandan Genocide and for not pushing hard enough for UN intervention to end Angola's civil war in the 1990s, which was at the time one of the longest running conflicts in the world.

Egyptian Boutros Boutros-Ghali addresses the United Nations General Assembly after being sworn in as the US ...
Egyptian Boutros Boutros-Ghali addresses the United Nations General Assembly after being sworn in as the US Secretary-General in United Nations in 1991. Photo: AP

Boutros-Ghali found himself jeered in Sarajevo, Mogadishu and Addis Ababa. His style was to wade into crowds and confront protesters when security guards permitted. "I am used to fundamentalists in Egypt arguing with me," he said.

He shocked many in Sarajevo when he said he was not trying to belittle the horrors in Bosnia but that there were other countries where the "total dead was greater than here."

Egyptian Minister for Foreign Affairs Boutros Boutros-Ghali, right, welcomes former US President Jimmy Carter at Cairo ...
Egyptian Minister for Foreign Affairs Boutros Boutros-Ghali, right, welcomes former US President Jimmy Carter at Cairo International Airport in 1987. Photo: AP

He told Somali warlords and clan leaders to stop accusing the United Nations and him of colonialism, adding that Somalis should be worried that former colonial powers would ignore their plight if they continued to fight.

"The Cold War is finished," he said. "Nobody is interested in the poor countries in Africa or anywhere in the world. They can easily forget Somalia in 24 hours." 

In this January 11, 1996 photo, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, left, and UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali ...
In this January 11, 1996 photo, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, left, and UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali attend the funeral mass of former French president Francois Mitterrand in Paris Photo: AP

Reuters