18.10.2016 - ODG

UNESCO pays tribute to Boutros Boutros-Ghali

© UNESCO/Ignacio Marin

“I wish to pay tribute to a man who was a true humanist, who believed profoundly in the inherent rights and dignity of every woman and man,” declared UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, at a tribute event dedicated to the memory, commitment and legacy of the late Dr Boutros Boutros-Ghali, former Secretary-General of the United Nations, and the first Secretary-General of La Francophonie.

Entitled “A visionary committed to the service of Peace and Development”, the event was held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on 17 October 2016.  It brought together a number of high-level speakers who testified, through six thematic parts the continuing relevance of Boutros Boutros-Ghali’s action, including through his Agenda for Peace and his Agenda for Democracy and Development, both closely linked to UNESCO's mandate.

H.E. Ehab Badawy, Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of the Arab Republic of Egypt to UNESCO characterized Mr Boutros-Ghali as "a son of Egypt, a great diplomat, a respected expert in international law, a brilliant writer, and a genuine defender of rights who, in his entire life, has never ceased to promote African causes". "He was a true example of integrity, always respecting the Charter and the ideals of the United Nations, advocating for dialogue, cultural diversity", he added.

Mohammad Fayak, Chairperson of Egypt's National Council for Human Rights, recalled how much the "cause of human rights and democracy" was at the heart of Boutros-Ghali's priorities and concerns. Mr Fayak pointed out that, "at the time when many countries were engaged in a process of independence, Dr Boutros-Ghali was among the most eloquent advocates of their wish to reach freedom".

Amr Moussa, former Secretary-General of the Arab League, paid tribute to the role of Dr Boutros-Ghali in integrating cultural, enlightenment, and documentation dimensions in diplomacy, recounting a long list of his great achievements, while always defending the voice of the voiceless and the poorest.

Former Ambassador and Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations, Alain Dejammet, commented on the diplomatic career of Dr Boutros-Ghali, which he "saw and lived as an ambition, a call, a mandate".

Lakhdar Brahimi, former Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and former Under-Secretary-General of the Arab League, recalled that "most of the topics under the international agenda's scrutiny nowadays have been put in the first place by, and at the initiative of Boutros Boutros-Ghali.

Lisa Buttenheim, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Field Support, a former close collaborator of the then Secretary-General, insisted on a number of features of Dr Boutros-Ghali who, for her, resume the remarkable man and diplomat he was -- "discipline; integrity; energy; vision and passion for the international relations, and its actors; and an irresistible and seductive sense of humour".

Ibrahima Fall, African Union Special Representative for the Great Lakes Region, shed light on the special and constant relationship between Boutros-Ghali and Africa. "Boutros, the African, always defended a strong partnership between the United Nations and Africa", said Mr Fall. A partnership that Boutros was “keen to impulse himself", he added. Consequently, said Ibrahima Fall, "Africa remains at the heart of Boutros-Ghali's Agendas".

“He worked tirelessly to advocate for dialogue and cooperation, human rights and cultural diversity,” said Irina Bokova. “We need his message more than ever today, to restore trust, confidence and dialogue.” All speakers joined their voices in saying that Dr Boutros-Ghali was still very alive and that he was in the agenda of those who prepare tomorrow's world.

The tribute event concluded with a message of Michaëlle Jean, Secretary-General of La Francophonie, read by Annie Dyckmans-Rozinski a former collaborator of Mr Boutros-Ghali. In her message, Ms Jean underlines that "Boutros-Ghali was extremely committed vis-à-vis francophonie and the French language well before he was appointed Secretary-General. With him, and without rejecting its founding principles, francophonie left its world to enter into the world".

This event was co-organized by UNESCO and the Permanent Delegation of Egypt to UNESCO. It was held in parallel of the 200th session of UNESCO’s Executive Board.

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