|Biographical detail : ||The Prince who believed it was the duty of elites to improve the lot of humanity.
Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan was widely respected for his close association with the cultural, humanitarian and human rights work of the UN for almost four decades lastly as United Nations high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR). In the later years, he used his standing and wealth to promote Islamic art and environmental causes.
Prince Sadruddin was educated at an elite school in Switzerland and graduated from Harvard in 1957 and saw himself as a citizen of the world – a multilingual, highly cultured cosmopolitan and familiar with the upper echelons of international society. His lifestyle changed after his divorce, in 1962, from his wife, the glamorous Nina Dyer.
Prince Sadruddin became an advisor to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)in 1958, when he became concerned about the fate of Nubian statues threatened by the construction of the Aswan High Dam in Egypt – he coordinated the preservation of Nubian monuments. He then joined the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), from advisor to deputy high commissioner (1962) and finally high commissioner (1966) – his rise was meteoric. He was involved in the resettlement of refugees when Pakistan broke up (1971-72) and the new nation of Bangladesh had to resettle hundreds of thousands of refugees, when Idi Amin evicted (1973) Asians from Uganda and the same year there were refugees from Pinochet’s Chile and the break-up of Cyprus (1974), with refugees moving in both directions from the Greek and Turkish parts of the island. Despite working intensively and effectively in the role, Prince Sadruddin was twice passed over for the post of Secretary-General of the UN, in 1981 by the little-known Peruvian diplomat Javier Perez de Cuellar and in 1991 by Egyptian diplomat Boutros-Boutros Ghali.
Prince Sadruddin, after he ceased to be high commissioner, turned much of his energies into his Geneva-based Bellerive Foundation (established in 1977) to promote environmental causes. He involved himself on global development problems, devising strategies for lessening the gap between rich and poor and to promote peace and preserve global life. He published articles on humanitarian and ecological issues.
Prince Sadruddin accumulated various honours during his lifetime, including Commandeur de la Legion d’Honneur (France), the Pontifical Order of St. Sylvestre (Holy See), the Order of the Star of the Nile and KBE.
Prince Sadruddin was disappointed that his father, Aga Sultan Muhammad did not name him as the next leader of the Ismaili Muslim community. His father apparently believed that his son lived only for pleasure. Thus when his father died in 1957, the crown, and the title Aga Khan IV, went to Sadruddin’s nephew, Karim, the present holder.
Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan was born in Paris and died in Boston of cancer. His mother was French. His father was the 48th hereditary Imam of the Ismaili Muslims.