United Nations History/Javier Pérez de Cuéllar
Who Was he?
Javier Michael Pérez de Cuéllar Mahan (born January 19, 1920, in Lima) is a Peruvian diplomat who served as the fifth Secretary-General of the United Nations from January 1, 1982 to December 31, 1991. He studied in Colegio San Agustín of Lima, and then at Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. In 1995, he ran unsuccessfully against Alberto Fujimori for President of Peru. He was President of the Council of Ministers, as well as Minister of Foreign Affairs from November 2000 until July 2001, during the turbulent period following Fujimori's resignation over corruption charges. In September 2004, he stepped down from his position as Peru's Ambassador to France, where he formerly resided. With the death of Kurt Waldheim in June 2007, he became the oldest former Secretary General of the United Nations.
Mr. Perez de Cuellar received doctorate degrees honoris causa from the following universities: the University of Nice; the Jagiellonian University at Cracow; Charles University at Prague; the University of Sofia; the University of San Marcos at Lima; the Free University at Brussels; Carleton University at Ottawa, Canada; the University of Paris (Sorbonne); the University of Visva-Bharati in West Bengal, India; the University of Michigan; the University of Osnabruck in the Federal Republic of Germany; the Coimbra University at Coimbra, Portugal; the Mongolian State University at Ulan Bator; the Humboldt University of Berlin; the Moscow State University; the University of Malta in Valleta; the Leyden University in the Netherlands; La Salle University in Philadelphia; Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts; the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland; and Cambridge University in the United Kingdom.
Pérez de Cuéllar joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1940 and the diplomatic service in 1944, serving subsequently as Secretary at Peru's embassies in France, where he met and married his first wife, the former Yvette Roberts; the United Kingdom, Bolivia, and Brazil. He later served as ambassador to Switzerland, the Soviet Union, (concurrently in Poland), and Venezuela. From his first marriage, Mr. Perez de Cuellar has a son, (Francisco, b. Paris), and a daughter, Agueda Cristina (b. London).
He was a junior member of the Peruvian delegation to the General Assembly at its first session - held in London in 1946-, and a member of the delegations to the 25th through 30th sessions of the Assembly. In 1971, he was appointed permanent representative of Peru to the United Nations, and he led his country's delegation to all sessions of the Assembly from then until 1975.
In 1973 and 1974, he represented his country in the Security Council, serving as its President at the time of the events in Cyprus in July 1974. On 18 September 1975, he was appointed Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Cyprus – a post he held until December 1977-, when he rejoined the Peruvian Foreign Service. During his time in Cyprus, Mr. Perez de Cuellar married his current wife, the former Marcela Temple Seminario, with whom he has no children.
As Secretary General
On December 31, 1981, Pérez de Cuéllar succeeded Kurt Waldheim as Secretary-General and was re-elected for a second term in October 1986. During his two terms, he led mediations between Britain and Argentina in the aftermath of the Falklands War and promoted the efforts of the Contadora Group to bring peace and stability to Central America. He also interceded in the negotiations for the independence of Namibia, the conflict in Western Sahara between Morocco and the Polisario Front, and the Cyprus issue. Shortly before the end of his second term, he was unofficially requested by members of the Security Council to reconsider his earlier decision not to run for a third term, albeit shortened to two years, as a search for his successor had not, as of then, yielded a consensus candidate. Mr. Pérez de Cuéllar graciously declined the offer once a candidate was found, in late December 1991, his second term as Secretary-General concluding, as scheduled, on December 31, 1991.