February 18 marks the death anniversary of Dr. Boutros Ghali, the former Secretary-General of the United Nations. He was the first Egyptian, Arab and African person to assume such a high position. We need to learn from his life experience because he was not just a high international official, but a great person who had courageously defied the policies of the United States which were in favor of Israel’s crimes in Lebanon and elsewhere.
He, therefore, decided to leave his senior position with his head held high after he had fulfilled his mission and maintained the values of the United Nations.
Dr. Ghali had an important expression in which he said: “Things are going in the world as they were in the era of the Romans, and power does not need diplomatic action.”
The most famous Egyptian diplomat was known for his bold opposition to the policies of the United States and its interference in the work of the United Nations. He was also the first to warn about international organization’s increasing lack of credibility in light of practices of the great powers that often ignore the UN role and challenge the international legitimacy in order to impose its own agenda, which led to the exacerbation of crises and armed conflicts.
Ghali called the UN “A House of Glass” in his famous book, in which he talked about his tenure as the UN chief.
I was fortunate enough to be close to the brave diplomat during my journalistic work covering the activities of the National Council for Human Rights, which was founded by Boutros Ghali to become one of the most important platforms for human rights in Egypt.
He had never given up his courage in defying the state with human rights challenges; in addition, he dared to raise thorny issues at the time, such as removing religion from national identity (ID) cards, in order to end any discrimination on a religious basis.
This courage is not strange to the man who was among the delegation members of former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat during his historic visit to Jerusalem.
During his career, Ghali was biased towards humanitarian diplomacy, making the human being the focus of his international work. He also supported the establishment of the complaints office, which turned into a bridge that carries the concerns of citizens to officials in Egypt.
The former Egyptian Finance Minister was also against international pressures regarding human rights, believing that human rights file is an internal affair based on the existence of a permanent dialogue between civil society and state agencies, and therefore he tried to bring Egyptian human rights organizations together with government agencies on one table by receiving reports of human rights organizations and referring them to the concerned authorities to respond to it, which greatly contributed to the development of the human rights situation in Egypt.
Ghali was enthusiastic for the youth and supported their engagement in international human rights activities, in addition to placing them among the Human Right Council’s delegation that attended the first international meeting to discuss the Egyptian file before the comprehensive periodic review in Geneva, and when I came back he asked me about my impressions about the city and gave me very precious advice not to forget to enjoy my life whenever I have the opportunity to do so.
This article was prepared by [Mahmoud Basiony] in his personal capacity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of SEE or its members.