In Memory of Mr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali
(4 May 2016)
I first met Mr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali in 1981 when I was a staff member of the UN Codification Division servicing the International Law Commission here in Geneva. I saw him coming to the Commission meetings with his two bodyguards. He had been known as an architect of the 1978 Camp David Accord, which established peace between Egypt and Israel. I think it was Mr. Valencia-Ospina, my big brother in the Codification Division then, who told me that certain precautionary measures were necessary for him, because there had been threats to his life by some extremists. Mr. Boutros-Ghali was a brave man standing for his belief. He impressed everybody in the Commission with his intellectual mind and extremely warm heart with a great sense of humor.
What I want to stress this morning is that Mr. Boutros Ghali devoted much of his time to the education of international law for young generations, and most notably, in serving as a member of the Curatorium of the Hague Academy of International Law since the 1980s and as its President since early 2000s. I had the pleasure of working with him in this context for some 12 years since 2004, meeting him at least twice a year, either in The Hague or in Paris. He presided over the Curatorium meetings until last year when he was 92 years old. He always cared about the students who come to the Academy’s summer courses from all corners of the world.
Soon after I became a member of the Curatorium, Ambassador Saboia, who was then the ambassador of Brazil to the Netherlands, kindly invited the members of the Curatorium to his beautiful official residence in The Hague. I vividly remember that evening, because that was the first time I talked with Mr. Boutros-Ghali privately for some time in a relaxed atmosphere. I was deeply impressed by Mr. Boutros-Ghali’s graciousness and warmth.
Mr. Boutros-Ghali was proud that he had never missed to attend the meetings of the Curatorium as its member even during the time when he was serving as the UN Secretary General. The United States member of the Curatorium, Mr. Peter Trooboff, recalls that, in spite of the unfair treatment that Mr. Boutros-Ghali received at times from the highest officials of the United States during his tenure as UN Secretary General, he never said a harsh word to Mr. Trooboff when these unfortunate events were taking place. On the contrary, they became very good family friends.
Mr. Boutros-Ghali’s mind was still very sharp until the end, and he was full of energy and passion for international law. Three years ago, we, the members of the Curatorium, paid tribute to the President on the occasion of his 90th birthday by publishing a booklet, a collection of essays discussing the great contributions that he had made (Yves Daudet, ed., The 90th Birthday of Boutros Boutros-Ghali: Tribute of the Curatorium of its President, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2012, 290pp). However, he did not seem to be interested in the past, and at the commemorative dinner, he kept talking about the future of international law and the future of the Hague Academy.
I am sure that he will long be remembered as an excellent national leader, a brilliant negotiator and diplomat as well as the great Secretary General, but I believe that his contribution to research, education and dissemination of international law should also be fully recognized.