There are many reasons why Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the Egyptian diplomat and former UN secretary-general, appears in the annals of 20th-century history.
First, Boutros-Ghali, who died on Tuesday at 93, grew up in one of Egypt’s most prominent Coptic Christian families and was the grandson of Boutros Ghali, the Egyptian prime minister, who was assassinated in 1910. His father, Yusef, served as the country’s finance minister.
Later, as an ascendent member of Egypt’s diplomatic class, he garnered seemingly countless academic degrees, including a Ph.D. in international law from the University of Paris, and directed the Centre of Research of the Hague Academy of International Law. He was also a Fulbright scholar, wrote a dozen books and hundreds of scholarly pieces in prestigious journals, and taught law at the University of Cairo.
In 1977, Boutros-Ghali joined Egyptian President Anwar Sadat as a leader of Egypt’s groundbreaking delegation to Israel; he had been named acting foreign minister after Sadat’s previous chief diplomat resigned in protest against the overture to Israel. Two years later, Boutros-Ghali was present at the White House when Israel and Egypt, which had fought four wars in 30 years, signed their monumental peace agreement. The two heads of state were later awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.