Salim Ahmed Salim

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Salim Ahmed Salim
سلیم احمد سلیم
سليم احمد سليم
7th Secretary General of the
Organisation of African Unity
In office
19 September 1989 – 17 September 2001
Preceded byIde Oumarou
Succeeded byAmara Essy
Minister of Defense and National Service
In office
PresidentAli Hassan Mwinyi
4th Prime Minister of Tanzania
In office
24 April 1984 – 5 November 1985
Preceded byEdward Sokoine
Succeeded byJoseph Warioba
8th Minister for Foreign Affairs
In office
Preceded byBenjamin Mkapa
Succeeded byBenjamin Mkapa
Permanent Representative of Tanzania to the United Nations
In office
PresidentJulius Nyerere
Personal details
Born (1942-01-23) 23 January 1942 (age 78)
Sultanate of Zanzibar
Political partyCCM
Spouse(s)Amne (died October 20th 2020)
Alma materUniversity of Delhi
SIPA, Columbia (MIA)
CommitteesChair, Mo Ibrahim Prize selection committee
PositionsChancellor, HKMU
Chair, MNF

Salim Ahmed Salim (Arabic: سليم احمد سليم‎, Urdu: سلیم احمد سلیم, Swahili: Salim Ahmad Salim, born 23 January 1942) is a Tanzanian politician and diplomat who has worked in the international diplomatic arena since the early 1960s.

Early life[edit]

Salim was born in what was then considered the Sultanate of Zanzibar to Sheikh Ahmad Salim Riyami, an ethnic Arab of Omani descent from Oman while his mother was a local-born mixed-race Tanzanian, born to an ethnic Arab father and a mixed-race Afro-Arab mother.


He was educated at Lumumba College in Zanzibar and later pursued his undergraduate studies at the St. Stephen's College of the University of Delhi and obtained his master's degree in International Affairs from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University in New York. He became a student activist in the 1950s and was founder and first Vice President of the All-Zanzibar Student Union.

Positions held in Tanzania[edit]

  • Chief Editor of a Zanzibar daily paper, Secretary General of the All-Zanzibar Journalists Organisation 1963–1964
  • Minister for Foreign Affairs 1980–1984
  • Prime Minister of Tanzania 1984–1985
  • Deputy Prime Minister of Tanzania 1986–1989
  • Minister for Defence and National Service 1986–1989
  • President of the Julius K. Nyerere Foundation 2001 – current
  • Member of the Central Committee of the ruling political party in Tanzania (Chama Cha Mapinduzi).
  • Member of the Tanzania Commission for Constitution Review 2012-2014

Diplomatic positions held[edit]

Positions at the United Nations[edit]

  • June/July 1972: Chairman of the United Nations Special Mission to Niue
  • August 1972: Drafting Committee of the Political Committee of the Ministerial Conference of non-Aligned States, Georgetown, Guyana
  • 1972 to 1980: Chairman of the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization (Committee of 24).
  • April 1973: Chairman of the Political Committee of International Conference of Experts in Support of the Victims of Colonialism and Apartheid in Southern Africa, Oslo
  • 1975: Chairman of the Security Council's Committee on Sanctions against Southern Rhodesia
  • 1976: President of the United Nations Security Council
  • 1979: President of the United Nations General Assembly for the Thirty-fourth, Sixth emergency special, Seventh emergency special, and Eleventh special sessions.
  • 1981: President of the International Conference on Sanctions against South Africa.
  • 1984: President of the Paris International Conference Against Apartheid.

Campaign for UN Secretary General[edit]

In 1981, Salim Ahmed Salim ran for Secretary-General of the United Nations against the two-term incumbent, Kurt Waldheim of Austria. Salim was then serving as President of the United Nations General Assembly, and he had the support of the Organisation of African Unity and the Non-Aligned Movement.[3][4] He could also count on China to veto Waldheim in the Security Council.[5] However, Salim was opposed by the Reagan administration in the United States, which regarded him as an anti-American radical who was hostile to South Africa and supported Palestinian statehood.[6][7][8] The Soviet Union also opposed Salim for his activism and his pro-China stance.[7]

Salim won the first round of voting with 11 votes to Waldheim's 10. As expected, Salim was vetoed by the United States, and Waldheim was vetoed by China. Salim's support dropped after the first round, as some countries believed that the United States was implacably opposed to Salim, while China had previously dropped its veto of Waldheim in 1971 and 1976.[9] However, neither country would relent, as the selection deadlocked for 6 weeks over a total of 16 rounds of voting. The deadlock finally ended when Waldheim and Salim both withdrew from the race, opening up the selection to other candidates.

In 1996, Salim was again mentioned for the office. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali was running unopposed for a second term and had the support of 14 of the 15 members of the Security Council. The United States was opposed to Boutros-Ghali and offered to support any other African candidate, including Salim Ahmed Salim.[10] However, France made it clear that it would veto Salim, so he was not nominated.[11]

Other diplomatic positions[edit]

At the continental level, following the invitation of the President of the African Development Bank, he has since March, 2002 been acting as African Water Ambassador whose responsibilities include advocacy, sensitization, and mobilization of support on African water issues. He also serves as:

  • Chairperson, Advisory Board, Institute of Security Studies (ISS) based in Pretoria, South Africa
  • Chairperson of the International Board of Trustees, Africa Humanitarian Action (AHI) based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • Member and Chairperson of the Advisory Board of Trustees of the Institute of Peace, Leadership and Governance, Africa University, Mutare, Zimbabwe
  • Member of the Panel of the Wise, a consultative body of the African Union[12]

At international level, Salim serves on the following boards, panels and commissions:

  • Co-chair, Eminent Persons Group (EPG) on Small Arms and Light Weapons (Secretariat, based in Washington DC)
  • Member of the Board at the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, an organisation which supports good governance and great leadership in Africa. Salim is also Chair of the Foundation’s Ibrahim Prize Committee, having taken over from the inaugural chair, Kofi Annan in 2011.
  • Member of the Global Leadership Foundation, an organization which works to support democratic leadership, prevent and resolve conflict through mediation and promote good governance in the form of democratic institutions, open markets, human rights and the rule of law. It does so by making available, discreetly and in confidence, the experience of former leaders to today’s national leaders. It is a not-for-profit organization composed of former heads of government, senior governmental and international organization officials who work closely with Heads of Government on governance-related issues of concern to them.
  • Member of the Board of the South Centre (Secretariat based in Geneva)
  • Member, Policy Advisory Commission, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
  • Member of the Foundation Council, Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue based in Geneva
  • Eminent Member of the Sergio Vieira de Mello Foundation

Honours and awards[edit]


Order Country Year
Order of the Star of Africa (Liberia) - ribbon bar.png Order of the Star of Africa  Liberia 1980
Order of the United Republic of Tanzania - ribbon bar.png Order of the United Republic of Tanzania  Tanzania 1985
National Order of the Thousand Hills (Rwanda) - ribbon bar.gif National Order of a Thousand Hills  Rwanda 1993
Order of Congolese Devotion (Congo).png Grand Cross of the Order of Devotion  Republic of the Congo 1994
Order of Merit - Grand Officer (Central African Republic).png Order of Merit (Grand Officer)  Central African Republic 1994
Medal of Africa  Libyan Arab Jamahiriya 1999
SEN Order of the Lion - Grand Officer BAR.png National Order of the Lion (Grand Officer)  Senegal 2000
Order of the Two Niles (Sudan) - ribbon bar.gif Order of the Two Niles  Sudan 2001
National Order of Merit - Athir v.1 (Algeria) - ribbon bar.gif Ordre El-Athir  Algeria 2001
TGO Order of Mono - Knight BAR.png Order of Mono  Togo 2001
MLI National Order - Commander BAR.png National Order of Mali (Commander)  Mali 2001
Order of the Companions of O.R. Tambo (ribbon bar).gif Order of the Companions of O. R. Tambo (Gold)  South Africa 2004
Order of the Torch of Kilimanjaro (Tanzania) - ribbon bar.gif Order of the Uhuru Torch (Second Class)  Tanzania 2011
Order of Friendship  China 2019


Honorary degrees[edit]

University Country Degree Year
University of the Philippines Los Baños  Philippines Doctor of Laws 1980[1]
University of Maiduguri  Nigeria Doctor of Humanities 1983[1]
University of Mauritius  Mauritius Doctor of Civil Law 1991[1]
University of Khartoum  Sudan Doctor of Arts in International Affairs 1995[1]
University of Bologna  Italy Doctor of Philosophy in International Relations 1996[15]
University of Cape Town  South Africa Doctor of Laws 1998[16]
Addis Ababa University  Ethiopia Doctor of Laws 2003[17]

Recipient of the 2006 Martin Luther King "Drum Major for Justice" award.


  1. ^ a b c d e "Biography of Dr. Salim Ahmed Salim". United Nations. April 2002. Retrieved 17 February 2013.
  2. ^ "Permanent Representatives". Permanent Mission of the United Republic of Tanzania to the United Nations. Archived from the original on 4 April 2011. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
  3. ^ Nossiter, Bernard D. (1 November 1981). "Someone is Trying to Fire Dr. Waldheim". The New York Times.
  4. ^ Berlin, Michael J. (16 November 1981). "Both Contenders Hoping for a Breakthrough in U.N. Election". The Washington Post.
  5. ^ Gargan, Edward A. (26 October 1981). "Chinese Widening Role at the U.N." The New York Times.
  6. ^ Berlin, Michael J. (11 September 1981). "Waldheim Declares Candidacy For Unprecedented 3rd Term". The Washington Post.
  7. ^ a b Berlin, Michael J. (25 October 1981). "North vs. South in U.N. Contest". The Washington Post.
  8. ^ "Tanzanian Ends Drive to Become Head of the U.N." The New York Times. 9 December 1981.
  9. ^ Berlin, Michael J. (28 October 1981). "Vetoes Deadlock Election of U.N. Secretary General". The Washington Post.
  10. ^ Crossette, Barbara (23 July 1996). "U.S. Warns U.N. on Campaigning for Post". The New York Times.
  11. ^ Crossette, Barbara (12 December 1996). "In Jockeying to Lead U.N., Ghanaian Is Moving Ahead". The New York Times.
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Press Release" (PDF). African Union. 23 October 2014. Retrieved 14 November 2014.
  14. ^ Magubira, Patty (23 October 2014). "Salim crowned 'Son of Africa'". The Citizen. Retrieved 14 November 2014.
  15. ^ "Lauree Honoris Causa : Salim Salim Ahmed". University of Bologna. 1996. Retrieved 27 September 2013.
  16. ^ "UCT Honours Roll". University of Cape Town. Archived from the original on 4 March 2013. Retrieved 17 February 2013.
  17. ^ "Over 4,000 Graduate From Addis Ababa University". Addis Tribune via 1 August 2003. Retrieved 17 February 2013.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Edward Sokoine
Prime Minister of Tanzania
Succeeded by
Joseph Warioba
Preceded by
Benjamin William Mkapa
Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation
Succeeded by
Benjamin William Mkapa
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Indalecio Liévano
President of the United Nations General Assembly
Succeeded by
Rüdiger von Wechmar