Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the former United Nations secretary general who died earlier this week at age 93, left behind a mixed legacy, comprised of praise and criticism.
The history-making diplomat, who died on Tuesday at a Cairo hospital, made his mark as an architect of the Camp David accords agreement brokered by the U.S. president Jimmy Carter when he served as Egypt’s foreign minister to President Anwar el-Sadat. He then became the UN’s first African secretary-general, CNN reports.
BBC notes that the 1978 Camp David Summit Conference forged an Egyptian-Israelis peace treaty.
“A former Egyptian foreign minister, Mr Boutros-Ghali led the world body during one of its most difficult times, with crises in Somalia, Rwanda, the Middle East and the former Yugoslavia,” reports BBC.
“His five years in office were clouded by controversy, especially about perceived UN inaction over the 1994 Rwandan genocide and Angolan civil war of the 1990s,” reports BBC.
The United States was reportedly angered by Boutros-Ghali’s opposition to NATO’s bombing campaign in Bosnia.
Nevertheless, “to some, he was an effective diplomat who was caught in a rift between the UN and the United States,” adds the report. “Others, most notably in Washington, saw him as a symbol of all that was wrong with the organization.”
“He was often jeered, and often waded into crowds to confront protesters when security guards permitted,” reveals BBC.
Claudia Rosett, a journalist who extensively reported on the UN Oil-for-Food program in Iraq, heavily criticized Boutros-Ghali for presiding over the creation of the Oil-for-Food, which she argued stained the former UN chief’s legacy.
“As UN Secretary-General, Boutros Boutros-Ghali presided over the creation of what was arguably the most corrupt relief program ever run by the UN, known as the Oil-for-Food program for Iraq,” Rosett told Breitbart News. “It was designed to be rotten from the start, an arrangement bolstered with bribes from Baghdad. Did Boutros-Ghali really have no idea?”
“And while Boutros-Ghali himself was not accused of profiting from Oil-for-Food, investigators have alleged that one of his cousins and his brother-in-law received Oil-for-Food-related kickbacks from Saddam Hussein’s regime, and that both men served as conduits for Baghdad’s illicit payoffs to the head of the Oil-for-Food program, Benon Sevan,” she continued.
Although, Boutros-Ghali was never accused of any wrong-doing linked to the program, it was negotiated in its final, crooked part under his guidance, also said Rosett, noting that the deceased UN chief was out the door a month after the program began and he was then replaced by fellow African Kofi Annan.
“But the [UN] Volcker Committee reported that Benon Sevan’s alleged payoffs were drawn in cash from a Swiss account belonging to Boutros B-G’s brother-in-law. It’s a can of spaghetti, deliberately so, to cover the tracks (Iraqi payoff via Panama front with cash transferred to another firm Geneva, and handed to Sevan when he was in town — our UN at work),” she explained via email.
Mr. Boutros-Ghali was honored with a minute of silence by the 15-member UN Security Council after the announcement his death.
“No further details on his death were immediately available,” reports BBC. “Mr Boutros-Ghali had received a phone call from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi last Thursday, after being admitted to hospital, Egyptian press reported.”
The former UN chief died on Tuesday at a hospital in Cairo after being admitted with a broken pelvis, reports Egypt’s state news agency.
“He took office in 1992 at a time of growing influence for the UN following its decisive role in the Gulf War, serving one five-year term,” notes BBC.
He was both the first Arab to serve as UN Secretary General and the first to only serve one term in the post.
“His five years were dogged by controversy. During the Rwandan genocide in 1994, he was criticized for the UN’s failure to prevent the massacre,” points out BBC. “His opposition to NATO’s bombing campaign in Bosnia also angered Washington, and contributed to his ousting.”
“The US wielded its veto when Boutros-Ghali sought a second term, which he regarded as a personal betrayal,” it adds. “Madeleine Albright, the US Ambassador to the UN at time, wore a ‘friendly smile’ and repeated ‘expressions of friendship and admiration,’ he claimed in his memoir.”
However, the U.S. envoy blemished Boultros-Ghali image and destroyed his authority, declared the deceased former UN chief.
“In terms of a positive legacy, Ban Ki-moon, his successor as UN chief, praised the dramatic rise of blue-helmeted peacekeeping on his watch,” notes BBC. “In a landmark report entitled Agenda for Peace, Boutros-Ghali also emphasized the importance of post-conflict peace-building, which informs a lot of UN thinking to this day.”