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Boutros Ghali - new UN Secretary General.

Boutros Ghali (69) formally took over as the sixth Secretary-General of the United Nations on January 1, 1992 and pledged to create a new momentum for peace-making and above all defend human rights and democracy all over the world. Ghali of Egypt is the first Secretary-General from the African continent. A key player in Egypt's signing a peace treaty with Israel, he has been praised for his keen intellect and is expected to maintain the pro-Western, pro-American policies of his predecessor.

Ghali is considered to be one of the few men of international stature capable of breathing new life and vigour into the United Nations and bringing the organisation into the forefront of world affairs. Brilliant and versatile, Ghali has made international affairs a life-long career. Since 1964 when he went to study in Paris Ghali has been involved in world politics, developing along the years a specific vision of the role countries should play in the international community.

Born into a well known political family of the Egyptian bourgeoisie-the son of a Pasha and nephew of a Prime Minister Ghali seemed destined for an illustrious life. When he was young, he was interested in lots of things, he practiced all kinds of sports - horse riding, fencing, duck hunting. He got a pilot's license. According to him he was a bad student and an uncontrollable child. That soon changed when he arrived in Paris and was confronted with a foreign world, a new language and a totally different work ethic. This period abroad marked his entry into the complex world of international affairs, in which he has since excelled, meeting challenges with brio and infinite dexterity, and earning a reputation as one of the world's most astute diplomats. He arrived in Paris with a degree in law from Cairo University and immersed himself in his studies. In three years he earned as many diplomas, plus a doctorate in international law. He returned to Egypt to work as professor of international and diplomatic law at the political science department of Cairo University. On the side he launched several publications in Arabic, English and French that focused on international affairs and the Arab World

The next turning point in his career was a period of teaching at New York's Columbia University where he went as a Fullbright fellow. There he says he appreciated teaching methods based on dialogue and seminars, which was quite different from what he had experienced in England or France. While in the US, Ghali wrote two of his most important studies, on what were topical subjects in 1954-55: Yemen and the League of Arab States. Back in Egypt, the tireless Ghali, who is married but has no children, forged ahead with several projects. He helped set up the faculty of Economic and Political Science as part of the Law Faculty where he taught. The new faculty was destined to attract the intellectual elite of the country. He also set up a publication, Al Ahram Al Iktisadi (Economic Al Ahram). It came out as a bimonthly. Later Ghali founded another Publication, Al Saiyasa Al Dawliya (International Policy), a 300 page quarterly review of international affairs. In the 1960s, he was asked by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to conduct a feasibility study on the creation of an institute for Diplomatic Studies in East Africa, to cover Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia. This caused Ghali to focus on African Affairs with an interest that has increased over the years and has made him one of the world's leading experts on the subject. His mission for UNESCO was the starting point of a series of books and articles in Arabic, French and English, three languages in which he is completely fluent.

He was one of the architects of the Group of 15, which includes countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The group held its first summit in June 1990 in the Malaysian Capital of Kuala Lumpur. Ghali was also behind the establishment of the Latin-African Dialogue which is held alternately in Mexico and Egypt. Over these years Ghali has not lost any of his energy or grit. He continued to work a 10-hour day and travelled at least twice a month, attending meetings and summits, giving conferences and lectures, and writing all the while. It was in 1977 that Ghali stepped up into the highest levels of international politics when he was appointed Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and then Minister of Foreign Affairs by the late President Anwer-Al Sadat. He guided Egypt's foreign relations for 14 years. It was Ghali who steered Egypt into the signing of the Camp David peace treaty with Israel in 1979. He also accompanied President Sadat on his historic visit to Jerusalem. Ghali has spent close to half a century applying his brilliant mind to entangling some knots in the complex web of international relations.

Formidable challenges await Ghali, as the United Nations plans new and risky peacekeeping exercises in the Western Sahara, Yogoslavia and Cambodia. The organisation has begun nine such operations since 1988, compared with 13 in the previous 43 years. In his first speech after his election as UN chief, Ghali declared that one of the gravest challenges confronting the world today was the denial to the people of their inalienable rights. Ghali has said he will ask the Security Council to help end the civil war in Somalia, which is sinking deeper each week into anarchy. He also expects the United Nations to take a wider role in encouraging democracy by helping to organise and monitor elections in developing nations.

Diplomats hope that Ghali can capitalise on this expansion in peacekeeping and on Security Council's rapid reprisals of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait to develop the kind of collective security arrangements that the United Nations founding fathers envisaged. But the key to that goal some stressed, was full implementation of the existing UN resolutions on several issues, including Kashmir.
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Publication:Economic Review
Date:Jan 1, 1992
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