The 193-member United Nations General Assembly today honoured the memory of former Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, who passed away on Tuesday at the age of 93, recalling his legacy in helping the world body find its footing in a new global landscape during the tumultuous early 1990s.
Adressing the Assembly’s special tribute at UN Headquarters in New York, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Mr. Boutros-Ghali had both the fortune and the misfortune to serve as the first post-Cold-War UN chief.
“While the United Nations was never as paralyzed during the Cold War as many have portrayed, the new dynamic gave the Organization new leeway to act. This brought promise and peril – and Mr. Boutros-Ghali experienced both,” Mr. Ban said.
Earlier today, the Secretary-General presided over an opening ceremony in front of the Meditation Room at UN Headquarters, where he wrote a tribute to Mr. Boutros-Ghali in the Book of Condolences and then invited other dignitaries and guests to sign as well.
UN flags in all duty stations will be flown at half-mast today in the late Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali’s honour.
At the General Assembly tribute, Mr. Ban recalled that in his very first month in office as the sixth Secretary-General of the world body, Mr. Boutros-Ghali presided over the first-ever Summit of the Security Council – a powerful symbol of the will of world leaders to make greater use of the UN. Mr. Ban said that at the time, Mr. Boutros-Ghali told the assembled leaders: “As the new era begins, it calls for both ideas and action to place international life on stronger foundations.”
Noting that Mr. Boutros-Ghali, building on his long career as a professor of international law, broke barriers as the first African and Arab Secretary-General of the UN, Mr. Ban stressed that he consistently gave voice to the poorest and least powerful members of the human family. He also steered the Organization through a series of world conferences on the environment, population, human rights, women’s rights, social development and the unique challenges faced by the world’s small island developing states, the UN chief said.