Javier Pérez de Cuellar, the two-term United Nations secretary-general who brokered a historic cease-fire between Iran and Iraq in 1988 and who in later life came out of retirement to help re-establish democracy in his Peruvian homeland, died Wednesday, Peru’s foreign ministry said. He was 100.
His son, Francisco Pérez de Cuellar, said his father died at home of natural causes. Pérez de Cuellar led the world body during the Iran-Iraq war and the civil war in El Salvador,
Perez de Cuellar’s death ends a long diplomatic career that brought him full-circle from his first posting as secretary at the Peruvian embassy in Paris in 1944 to his later job as Peru’s ambassador to France.
When he began his tenure as U.N. secretary-general on Jan. 1, 1982, he was a little-known Peruvian who was a compromise candidate at a time when the United Nations was held in low esteem.
Disturbed by the United Nations’ dwindling effectiveness, he sought to revitalize the world body’s faulty peacekeeping machinery. During his decade as U.N. chief, Perez de Cuellar would earn a reputation more for diligent, quiet diplomacy than charisma.
In July 1986, Perez de Cuellar underwent a quadruple coronary bypass operation, putting in question his availability for a second term. From the outset, Perez de Cuellar had insisted that he would be a one-term secretary-general.
Perez de Cuellar spent much of his second term working behind the scenes on the hostage issue, resulting in the release of Westerners held in Lebanon, including the last and longest held American hostage, journalist Terry Anderson, who was freed Dec. 4, 1991.
Read more via The Washington Post/ AP