Javier Pérez de Cuéllar

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Javier Pérez de Cuéllar
Pérez de Cuéllar in 1982
Secretary-General of the United Nations
In office
1 January 1982 – 31 December 1991
Preceded byKurt Waldheim
Succeeded byBoutros Boutros-Ghali
Prime Minister of Peru
In office
22 November 2000 – 28 July 2001
PresidentValentín Paniagua
Preceded byFederico Salas
Succeeded byRoberto Dañino
Minister of Foreign Relations
In office
22 November 2000 – 28 July 2001
Prime MinisterHimself
Preceded byFernando de Trazegnies
Succeeded byDiego García-Sayán
Ambassador of Peru
1964–1966Ambassador to Switzerland
1969–1971Ambassador to the Soviet Union and Poland
1977–1979Ambassador to Venezuela
2001–2004Ambassador to France
Personal details
Javier Felipe Ricardo Pérez de Cuéllar y de la Guerra

(1920-01-19)19 January 1920
Lima, Peru
Died4 March 2020(2020-03-04) (aged 100)
Lima, Peru
Political partyUnion for Peru (from 1994)
Yvette Roberts-Darricau
(m. 1947; div. 1975)
(m. 1975; died 2013)
Children2 (by Roberts-Darricau)
Alma materPontifical Catholic University of Peru
  • Diplomat
  • politician

Javier Felipe Ricardo Pérez de Cuéllar de la Guerra (/ˈpɛrɛs də ˈkwjɑːr/ PERR-ess də KWAY-yar,[1] Spanish: [xaˈβjeɾ ˈpeɾes ðe ˈkweʝaɾ]; 19 January 1920 – 4 March 2020) was a Peruvian diplomat and politician who served as the fifth Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1982 to 1991. He later served as Prime Minister of Peru from 2000 to 2001.

Pérez de Cuéllar was a member of the Club of Madrid, a group of former heads of state and government,[2] and the Inter-American Dialogue.[3]


Early years[edit]

Javier Pérez de Cuéllar was born on 19 January 1920 in Lima, Peru,[4] to a rentier family of Spanish descent with ancestry from Cuéllar.[5][6] His father, whose ancestors had migrated from Spain in the 16th century, died when he was 4.[7] He attended Colegio San Agustín, learned French from a governess and earned a law degree from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru in 1943.

Diplomatic career[edit]

Pérez de Cuéllar joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1940 first as an intern, the diplomatic service itself in 1944, serving after that as a 3rd Secretary at Peru's embassy in France,[8] where he met and married his first wife, Yvette Roberts-Darricau (1922–2013), in 1947.[9][10] He also held posts in Britain, Bolivia and Brazil,[5] and later served as ambassador to Switzerland from 1964 to 1966, the Soviet Union and Poland from 1969 to 1971, and Venezuela from 1977 to 1979.[11] From his first marriage, he had a son, Francisco, and a daughter, Águeda Cristina.[5]

He was a member of the Peruvian delegation to the first session of the United Nations General Assembly, which convened in London in 1946,[5] and of the delegations to the 25th through 30th sessions of the Assembly.[8] In 1971, he was appointed permanent representative of Peru to the UN and led his country's delegation in the Assembly until 1975.[5]

In 1973 and 1974, he represented Peru in the UN Security Council, serving as its president at the time of the Cypriot coup d'état in July 1974.[8] 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 Peru's foreign service.[8] Also in 1975, Pérez de Cuéllar divorced his first wife and married Marcela Temple Seminario (1933–2013),[9][12] with whom he had no children.[13]

On 27 February 1979, he was appointed UN under-secretary-general for Special Political Affairs. From April 1981, he also acted as the Secretary-General's personal representative on the situation in Afghanistan; he visited Pakistan and Afghanistan in April and August of that year to continue negotiations initiated by the Secretary-General some months earlier.[8]

United Nations Secretary-General[edit]

Pérez de Cuéllar and Iranian president Ali Khamenei in Tehran, 1987

In December 1981, Pérez de Cuéllar was selected to succeed Kurt Waldheim as Secretary-General of the United Nations;[14] he was unanimously re-elected for a second term in October 1986.[15]

During his two terms as secretary-general, he led mediations between the United Kingdom and Argentina in the aftermath of the Falklands War[12] and promoted the efforts of the Contadora group to bring peace and stability to Central America.[16] He also interceded in the negotiations for the independence of Namibia,[5] the conflict in Western Sahara,[17] the war between Croatian forces seeking independence and the Yugoslav People's Army (as well as the local Serb forces),[18] and the Cyprus issue.[19] In 1986 he presided over an international arbitration committee that ruled on the Rainbow Warrior incident between New Zealand and France.[20] In 1983, he initiated the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) to unite countries to pursue sustainable development.[21] During the build-up to the Gulf War, he convinced US president George H. W. Bush to send his secretary of state James Baker to negotiate with Iraqi deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz in Geneva.[22]

Shortly before the end of his second term, he rejected an unofficial request by members of the Security Council to reconsider his earlier decision not to run for a third term, shortened to two years, as a search for his successor had not, as of then, yielded a consensus candidate.[citation needed] A suitable candidate, Boutros Boutros-Ghali of Egypt, was agreed upon in November 1991,[23] and Pérez de Cuéllar's second term as secretary-general concluded, as scheduled, on 31 December 1991.[5]

Later life and death[edit]

Pérez de Cuéllar in 2008

Pérez de Cuéllar ran unsuccessfully against Alberto Fujimori for president of Peru in 1995; following Fujimori's resignation over corruption charges, he served as prime minister and foreign minister[5] from November 2000 until July 2001.[24] After Alejandro Toledo's election as president in 2001,[13] he went to Paris as Peru's ambassador to France, retiring in 2004.[24]

In 1997, Pérez de Cuéllar published his memoir Pilgrimage for Peace in which he recounted his years at the UN.[5] He served as Permanent Delegate of Peru to UNESCO until 2004.

Pérez de Cuéllar celebrated his 100th birthday in January 2020 and received congratulations from the United Nations on his 100 years of life.[25][26] He was the first UN secretary-general to become a centenarian.

Pérez de Cuéllar died at his home in Lima on 4 March 2020 two months after he turned 100.[27][5]

Honours and awards[edit]

He received several honorary degrees from universities, such as the following:


  1. ^ "Pérez de Cuéllar". Collins English Dictionary. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  2. ^ "Former Heads of State and Government". Club de Madrid. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  3. ^ "Javier Pérez de Cuéllar". Inter-American Dialogue. Archived from the original on 13 April 2017. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  4. ^ Roberts, Priscilla (8 October 2010). "Pérez de Cuéllar, Javier". In Tucker, Spencer C. (ed.). The Encyclopedia of Middle East Wars: The United States in the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, and Iraq Conflicts [5 volumes]. ABC-CLIO. pp. 968–969. ISBN 978-1-85109-948-1.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k McFadden, Robert D. (5 March 2020). "Javier Pérez de Cuéllar Dies at 100; U.N. Chief Brokered Peace Pacts". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 7 March 2020. Retrieved 25 March 2021.
  6. ^ Briceno, Franklin (5 March 2020). "Pérez de Cuéllar, Peruvian two-term UN chief, dies at 100". AP News. Retrieved 25 March 2021.
  7. ^ McFadden, Robert D. (5 March 2020). "Javier Pérez de Cuéllar Dies at 100; U.N. Chief Brokered Peace Pacts". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 23 January 2023.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z "Javier Perez de Cuellar". United Nations Secretary-General. Archived from the original on 6 March 2020. Retrieved 12 January 2022.
  9. ^ a b "Javier Pérez de Cuéllar obituary". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Archived from the original on 26 October 2021. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  10. ^ The International Year Book and Statesmen's Who's Who. Vol. 26. Burke's Peerage Limited. 1978. p. 565.
  11. ^ Leyden, Andrew (1997). Gulf War Debriefing Book: An After Action Report. Hellgate Press. p. 15. ISBN 978-1-55571-396-6.
  12. ^ a b Crowther, Linnea (5 March 2020). "Javier Pérez de Cuéllar (1920–2020), former secretary-general of the United Nations". Legacy.com. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  13. ^ a b "Former UN chief Javier Perez de Cuellar dies aged 100". RTÉ News. 5 March 2020. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  14. ^ "Security Council Elects a Peruvian Secretary General". The New York Times. 12 December 1981. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  15. ^ Sciolino, Elaine (11 October 1986). "Man in the News: Javier Perez de Cuellar; Unanimously, the U.N.'s Man". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  16. ^ Wilkinson, Tracy (19 January 1987). "U.N. Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar and the foreign..." United Press International. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  17. ^ "Former UN chief Javier Pérez de Cuéllar dies aged 100". BBC News. 5 March 2020. Archived from the original on 5 March 2020. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  18. ^ "UNPROFOR". United Nations. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  19. ^ "U.N. chief says new Cyprus talks possible". United Press International. 14 August 1985. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  20. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 December 2009. Retrieved 28 December 2012.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  21. ^ Caradonna, Jeremy L. (1 August 2014). Sustainability: A History. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-937242-3.
  22. ^ Henriksen, Thomas H. (31 January 2022). America's Wars: Interventions, Regime Change, and Insurgencies after the Cold War (1st ed.). Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/9781009053242.003. ISBN 978-1-009-05324-2. S2CID 245293332.
  23. ^ Lewis, Paul (22 November 1991). "Security Council Selects Egyptian for Top U.N. Post". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  24. ^ a b Gott, Richard (5 March 2020). "Javier Pérez de Cuéllar obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  25. ^ "Former UN chief Perez de Cuéllar celebrates his 100th birthday". UN News. 18 January 2020. Archived from the original on 13 January 2022. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  26. ^ "Javier Pérez de Cuéllar: ONU envió saludo por sus 100 años de vida" (in Spanish). Lima. Andina. 16 January 2020. Retrieved 27 January 2023.
  27. ^ "Javier Pérez de Cuéllar falleció a los 100 años". El Comercio (in Spanish). 4 March 2020. Archived from the original on 17 June 2020. Retrieved 5 March 2020.
  28. ^ "Nehru Award Recipients". Indian Council for Cultural Relations. Archived from the original on 15 August 2016. Retrieved 8 October 2017.
  29. ^ "List of Winners (1986–2020)" (PDF). Archivio Disarmo. Retrieved 12 January 2022.
  30. ^ a b Brozan, Nadine (5 December 1991). "Chronicle". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 October 2021.
  31. ^ "Golden Plate Awardees". Academy of Achievement. Archived from the original on 15 December 2016. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  32. ^ "Four Freedoms Awards". Roosevelt Institute. 25 March 2015. Archived from the original on 25 March 2015. Retrieved 12 January 2022.
  33. ^ "Honorary doctor Javier Pérez de Cuéllar dies aged 100". Vrije Universiteit Brussel. 5 March 2020. Retrieved 25 October 2020.[permanent dead link]
  34. ^ "Doktorzy honoris causa" (in Polish). Jagiellonian University. Archived from the original on 27 March 2015. Retrieved 25 October 2020.
  35. ^ "Javier Perez De Cuellar, Doctor Honoris Causa at Leiden University". Leiden Journal of International Law. University of Cambridge. 1 (2): 199–203. 1988. doi:10.1017/S092215650000087X. S2CID 250440519. Retrieved 25 October 2020.
  36. ^ "Perez de Cuellar Receives Honorary Doctorate". Retrieved 25 October 2020 – via UN Multimedia.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by Secretary-General of the United Nations
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Prime Minister of Peru
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Foreign Relations
Succeeded by