Former UN chief Boutros Boutros-Ghali dead at 93

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon
Former UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali Dead at 93

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) -- Former U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, whose term was marked by war in the former Yugoslavia, famine and genocide in Africa and confrontation with the United States, died on Tuesday. He was 93.

The 15-member U.N. Security Council observed a minute's silence after the death was announced on Tuesday by Venezuelan U.N. Ambassador Rafael Dario Ramirez Carreno, head of the Security Council for February.

An Egyptian, Boutros-Ghali served as U.N. chief from 1992 to 1996. He died at Al Salam Hospital in Cairo on Tuesday, an official at the hospital said.

See more of Boutros Boutros-Ghali through the years:

11 PHOTOS
Former UN Secretary Boutros Boutros-Ghali
See Gallery
Former UN chief Boutros Boutros-Ghali dead at 93
Boutros Boutros-Ghali, currently Deputy Foreign Minister of Egypt, addresses the United Nations General Assembly after being sworn in as the new U.S. Secretary-General in United Nations on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 1991. Boutros will take over his duties from outgoing Secretary-General Javier de Cuellar on January 1. (AP Photo/Marty Lederhandler)
LON9 - Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the new Secretary General of the United Nations calling on the British Prime Minister, Mr. John Major, at 10 Downing Street. The pair met for official talks. (AP-Photo/Dave Caulkin) 13.1.1992
Boutros Boutros Ghali, U.N.Secretary-General addresses the press after a meeting on Bosnia-Herzegovina at the U.N.Geneva on Wednesday July 19,1995.Boutros Ghali met with Yasushi Akashi, his Special Representative for Former Yugoslavia, Bernard Janvier, Commander-in-Chief of the U.N.Peace Forces in Former Yugoslavia and other officials.The Secretary-General will leave Geneva tomorrow evening, July 20 for London where he will attend the European Ministers meeting on Former Yugoslavia.AP Photo/Beatrix Stampfli.
Pope John Paul II addresses the 50th session of the United Nations General Assembly Thursday Oct. 5, 1995. Listening behind him are, from left, U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali; UNGA President Diogo Freitas do Amaral; and U.N. Under Secretary Alvaro de Soto. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
United Nations Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali listens to a question during a press conference in Beijing Wednesday March 27, 1996, following two days of meetings with Chinese leaders. Boutros-Ghali said Taiwan could forget about joining the U.N. unless Beijing changes its mind, and that is unlikely. (AP Photo/Greg Baker)
United Nations Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali addresses the Socialist International conference at the United Nations Monday, September 9, 1996. The U.N. chief cautioned against isolationism Monday as he called on Social Democratic leaders to help focus global attention on the world's disadvantaged. The red rose on the podium is an international symbol for socialism. (AP Photo/Ed Bailey)
Boutros Boutros-Ghali, secretary general of the United Nations, speaks during the unveiling of a sculpture at the United Nations in New York, Thursday, Nov. 21, 1996. Boutros-Ghali's future at the U.N. is uncertain as the United States has already vetoed the Egyptian's reelection to a second term in a preliminary vote of the Security Council. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Former United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali gestures during an interview with the Associated Press on Wednesday, May 21, 1997 in New York. Six months after losing a bid for a second term as U.N. chief, Boutros-Ghali is promoting his new memoir titled ``Egypt's Road to Jerusalem,'' about the Camp David Accords and the rocky journey toward Egyptian-Israeli peace. (AP Photo/Michael Schmelling)
Former United Nations Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali makes the key note speech during a meeting of the European Community Studies Association at the European Commission building in Brussels, Tuesday Nov. 30, 2004. The ECSA is an international scientific network bringing together 51 national associations of teachers and researchers in the field of European integration. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
Former United Nations Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali arrives for a meeting of the European Community Studies Association at the European Commission building in Brussels, Tuesday Nov. 30, 2004. The ECSA is an international scientific network bringing together 51 national associations of teachers and researchers in the field of European integration. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

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

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

Boutros-Ghali, who had a reputation for being proud and prickly, also took on the daunting task of reorganizing the U.N. bureaucracy by slashing posts and demoting officials at a pace that earned him the nickname "the pharaoh."

But Washington had wanted him to do more to reform the body and the U.S. Congress would not pay more than $1 billion in back dues while he remained at the helm.

Many diplomats suggested he was jettisoned by U.S. President Bill Clinton's Democratic administration during an election year to pre-empt criticism from Republicans deeply hostile to Boutros-Ghali and the United Nations.

In 1996, 10 Security Council members led by African states sponsored a resolution backing him for a second five-year term but the United States vetoed Boutros-Ghali when his reappointment came up for a vote.

WORKED FOR SADAT, MUBARAK

Boutros-Ghali came from a wealthy family and his grandfather was Egypt's prime minister until his assassination in 1910. Before the United Nations, he had worked in the administrations of 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.

Under Mubarak, Boutros-Ghali was the architect of Egypt's return to the center of affairs in the Organization of African Unity, the Nonaligned Movement and the Islamic Conference Organization.

In the U.N. job, Boutros-Ghali was criticized for its failure to act during the 1994 Rwandan genocide and for not pushing hard enough for U.N. intervention to end Angola's civil war, which at the time was one of the longest running conflicts in the world.

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 told Reuters.

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."

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."

Boutros-Ghali headed the United Nations as the body was redefining itself. He was the first secretary-general in the post-Cold War era and at a time when it was taking on more international peacekeeping work, operations that often were criticized for doing too much or too little.

As an Egyptian, he was able to claim to be both Arab and African. He also was a Coptic Christian from a mainly Muslim country and married an Egyptian Jew, who converted to his religion.

He was passionate about the works of French painter Henri Matisse, whom he knew when he studied in Paris, smoked an occasional cigar and drank Scotch with water - a taste he said he acquired "after 70 years of British occupation" of Egypt.

Boutros-Ghali later served as secretary-general of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, an organization of French-speaking nations, and as director of the Egyptian National Council for Human Rights.

More from AOL.com:
States with the toughest gun laws
All of Trader Joe's eggs will be cage-free in 9 years
Iraqi media: Americans kidnapped in Iraq last month released

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners