Working to promote freedom of conscience for every person, no matter who they are or where they live.

United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali

Statement from Dr. Nelu Burcea, United Nations Liaison for the International Religious Liberty Association, regarding the death of Boutros Boutros-Ghali.

February 16, 2016

I was saddened to learn today of the death of former United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali. He was an eloquent spokesperson for tolerance and human rights, and a man whose life was defined by the pursuit of a more just and more peaceful world.

His tenure at the United Nations, during the turbulent post-Cold War years, was made even more challenging by the shifting alliances and the changing power dynamics of a newly fragmented international community. But regardless of the many and varied critiques of his five-year term as Secretary-General, I believe Dr. Boutros-Ghali was driven by a desire for the United Nations to be, in his own words, “a voice for the weakest and least regarded peoples.”

As a Coptic Christian who lived and worked many years in an Islamic country, Egyptian-born Dr. Boutros-Ghali knew first-hand the challenges faced by many religious minorities around the world. This experience added an extra depth and authority to his efforts in promoting human rights.

As he reflected back on his time at the United Nations, Dr. Boutros-Ghali wrote: “In a world of many big and wealthy powers, it is the United Nation’s job to look out for those marginalized because of ethnicity, gender, religion, age, health, poverty or whatever reason.”[1] And these few, simple words may well provide us the best and clearest insight into Dr. Boutros-Ghali's philosophy as an international diplomat.

On behalf of the International Religious Liberty Association, I extend my deepest sympathies to Mrs. Boutros-Ghali, to their extended family, and to the United Nations community, which has lost an eminent and influential leader.


[1] Boutros Boutros-Ghali Unvanquished (New York: Random House, 1999), 337.