Remembering Two International Leaders




Two books just published recall the international roles of former U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali and Maurice Strong, a former head of the U.N. Environment Program and practical inspirer of two environmental gatherings in Stockholm and Rio.

As pointed out in a briefing, BBG, as he was commonly known and Maurice, as widely known to friends, were totally different in upbringing, background, career, style, approaches, and roles. Yet in contrasting ways both were major influences on the U.N. and on international action. The two books are not biographies, but reminiscences from some of those who worked with them or observed their performance. The diversity of contributors provides varied and often contradicting perspectives on each of them.

For example, BBJ had a strong commitment to the group of 77, as brought out by Mourad Ahmia, the talented executive director of that group. His highly intellectual approach, by Nitin Dasai, former U.N. Under Secretary-General from India, are combined with his perspective of outside critics including those who blocked him from getting a second term.

Maurice Strong was also covered by a number of distinguished international figures, like James Wolfensohn, former President of the World Bank, highlighting many aspects of his career: his role at UNEP; an architect of U.N. reforms under Kofi Annan; Rector of University of Peace and special representative of the Secretary General, charged with finding a peaceful solution to North Korea's nuclear situation.

A brief by Richard Golly, former UNICEF Deputy Executive Director, offers interesting highlights of the two books, issued by the European Center for Peace and Development.

Frederico Mayor, Negoslav Ostojic and Roberto Savio deserve many thanks for assembling such a diverse and rich collection of reminiscences, both insightful and inspiring. As Mr. Golly pointed out, both books are a reminder of what inspired leadership can achieve.