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Dr Charles Malik

The Extraordinary Life and Legacy

By Stephanie Wigan

Dr Charles Habib Malik was a Lebanese academic, diplomat and philosopher who was highly regarded internationally for his intelligence, diplomacy and Christian theology.

Dr Maik was born on 11 February 1906 in Btourram, Lebanon. He was educated in Tripoli, and graduated with a degree in mathematics and physics from the American University of Beirut.

In 1937, he received his Ph.D. in philosophy from Harvard University.

With an impressive repertoire of ground-breaking achievements, Dr Malik was the first United Nations Ambassador for Lebanon, representing his homeland at the San Francisco conference at which the United Nations was founded.

“The problem is not only to win souls but to save minds. If you win the whole world and lose the mind of the world, you will soon discover you have not won the world. Indeed it may turn out you have actually lost the world

(Dr Charles Malik)

Dr Malik served as a rapporteur for the Commission on Human Rights in 1947, and became President of the Economic and Social Council in 1948[1].

Interestingly, it was during 1948 that Lebanon’s own Dr Malik became one of the eight representatives whom drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

When describing Lebanon at a United Nations Session held during December 1948, Dr Malik said:


The history of my country for centuries is precisely that of a small country struggling against all odds for the maintenance and strengthening of real freedom of thought and conscience. Innumerable persecuted minorities have found, throughout the ages, a most understanding haven in my country, so that the very basis of our existence is complete respect of differences of opinion and belief[2].



Dr Malik was Chair of the Human Rights Commission and he remained as Ambassador to the United States of America and to the United Nations until 1955.

Dr Malik was appointed to the Lebanese Cabinet from 1956 – 1958 in the positions of Minister of National Education and Fine Arts (1956 – 1957) and Minister of Foreign Affairs (1956 – 1958).

In 1958, Dr Malik presided over the thirteenth session of the United Nations General Assembly [3].

Dr Malik was an Orthodox Christian who was also noted for being an Orthodox theologian who successfully reached Christians of other denominations. He was the author of numerous commentaries on the Bible, as well as on the writings of the early Church Fathers. Dr Malik served as President of the World Council on Christian Education from 1967 to 1971, and as Vice-President of the United Bible Societies from 1966 to 1972.

Following the outbreak of the Lebanese Civil War (which took place from 1975 to 1990), Dr Malik was one of the founders of the Front for Freedom and Man in Lebanon (later renamed the Lebanese Front). Dr Malik was credited as being “the brains” of the Front, which he named to defend the Christian cause[4].

Dr Malik was well known for his articulate speech, enthusiasm and confidence. Many of his famous quotes continue to be relied upon to this day.

“The fastest way to change society is to mobilise the women of the world”

(Dr Charles Malik).

Dr Malik’s academic career was also extensive as he lectured on human rights and philosophy. He held professorships at numerous international universities including Harvard University, the American University in Washington D.C, and the American University of Beirut. Dr Malik was also a Paschal Lecturer at the University of Waterloo in Canada. Dr Malik’s final position was as  a Jacques Maritain Distinguished Professor of Moral and Political Philosophy at The Catholic University of America (Washington, DC) from 1981 to 1983.



Dr Malik died on 28 December 1987 in Beirut. His personal papers and books are stored at Notre Dame University-Louaize in Lebanon, as well as in the Library of Congress, Washington D.C.


Memorial Statute of Dr Malik at the American University of Science and Technology  in Beirut





The ground-breaking achievements, intelligence and accomplishments of Dr Charles Malik have touched the world. It is no wonder that Dr Charles Malik is held in such high esteem and the legacy of this brilliant Lebanese scholar, diplomat and theologian continue to be part of the fabric of our society to this day.

In commemorating the amazing life and legacy of Dr Charles Malik, the WLCU Sydney Dr Charles Malik Award is an annual and international literary competition open to all persons aged 15 years and over. The WLCU Sydney Dr Charles Malik Award will be formally presented at the WLCU Sydney Dr Charles Malik Award Ceremony on the Lebanese Independence Day (22 November each year), and the winners will also be announced at the WLCU Sydney Gala Event. For more information on this prestigious competition, please follow the link:https://wlcunsw.org.au/local-news/wlcu-sydney-dr-charles-malik-award/



[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Malik

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Malik

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Malik

[4] https://www.wya.net/op-ed/the-great-moments-of-the-near-east-are-the-judges-of-the-world 

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