Javier Perez de Cuellar assumed office as Secretary-General of the United Nations on 1 January 1982. On 10 October 1986, he was appointed for a second term of office, which began on 1 January 1987.
Mr. Perez de Cuellar was born in Lima, Peru, on 19 January 1920. He is a lawyer and a career diplomat, now retired.
He joined the Peruvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1940 and the diplomatic service in 1944, serving subsequently as Secretary at the Peruvian embassies in France, the United Kingdom, Bolivia and Brazil, and as Counsellor and Minister Counsellor at the embassy in Brazil.
Having returned to Lima in 1961, he was promoted to the rank of Ambassador the following year, successively occupying the posts of Director of the Legal Department, Director of Administration, Director of Protocol and Director of Political Affairs. In 1966, he was appointed Secretary-General (Deputy Minister) for Foreign Affairs. In 1981, he served as Legal Adviser in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Mr. Perez de Cuellar was Ambassador of Peru to Switzerland, the Soviet Union, Poland and Venezuela.
He was a member of the Peruvian delegation to the General Assembly at its first session in 1946 and a member of the delegations to the twenty-fifth to thirtieth 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 President of the Council 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 his Foreign Service.
On 27 February 1979, he was appointed as United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Special Political Affairs. From April 1981, while still holding this post, he acted as the Secretary-General’s Personal Representative on the situation relating to Afghanistan. In that capacity, he visited Pakistan and Afghanistan in April and August of that year in order to continue the negotiations initiated by the Secretary-General some months earlier.
In May 1981, he again rejoined his country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs but continued to represent the Secretary-General in the context of the situation relating to Afghanistan until his appointment in December of that year as Secretary-General of the United Nations.
He also served as Professor of International Law at Peru’s Academia Diplomatica and Professor of International Relations at Peru’s Academia de Guerra Aerea. He is the author of Manual de Derecho Diplomatico (Manual of Diplomatic Law (1964).
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;
- Cambridge University in the United Kingdom.
In the course of his career, Mr. Perez de Cuellar was decorated by some 25 countries.
In October 1987, he was awarded the Prince of Asturias Prize for the promotion of Ibero-American co-operation. In January 1989, he was awarded the Olof Palme Prize for International Understanding and Common Security by the Olof Palme Memorial Fund. In February 1989, he was awarded the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding. Mr. Perez de Cuellar has two children.
- Javier Perez de Cuellar Biography and Profile (United Nations)