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Boutros Boutros-Ghali


A very brief write-up of the late former Secretary-General of the United Nations follows, for those who care. You’re probably more interested in learning what sort of
name "Boutros Boutros-Ghali" is. According to Samir Raafat, writing in the Jordan Star, Middle East Times (Sept. 26, 1996), "Boutros" is the Arabic version of "Peter," and "Precious" is the English translation of "Ghali." Remember this when you get to the part about selling weapons to the Hutu before the Rwandan genocide.

Boutros Boutros-Ghali (or, as Seinfeld once said, “Boutros Boutros GOLLY”) was the sixth Secretary-General of the United Nations. Born in Cairo, Egypt. in 1922, he was educated in Egypt and France, earning degrees in law, public law, and economics, with his doctorate in international law from Paris University in 1949. His next twenty-eight years were spent in academia, teaching at the University of Cairo when he wasn’t lecturing or doing research at universities and think tanks in the U.S., Europe, or Africa. In 1977, he was appointed the Egyptian minister of state for foreign affairs and accompanied President Anwar Sadat to Jerusalem and Camp David as the peace accords between Egypt and Israel were negotiated. During a brief stint as Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, he approved a secret $26 million arms sale to the government of Rwanda; these weapons were stockpiled by the Hutu regime in preparation for the subsequent genocide of the Tutsi four years later. 

Boutros-Ghali was invited to head the U.N. in 1991. His tenure saw the Rwandan genocide, the Angolan civil war, the Yugoslav wars, the Somali crisis—all of which led to his second term being squashed by a majority of the U.N.’s Security Council. He is the only Secretary-General to have served only one term. The rest of his public career was spent serving with or leading a variety of international organizations. He died in a Cairo hospital on February 16, 2016, after breaking his pelvis.


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