Dr.Charles Habib Malik (1906 – 1987)

Charles Habib Malik (1906 – 1987) was a Lebanese Eastern Orthodox Christian philosopher and diplomat.
Born in Bterram, Lebanon, Malik was the son of Dr. Habib Malik and Zarifa Karam. He was educated at the American Mission School for Boys in Tripoli and the American University of Beirut, where he graduated with a degree in mathematics and physics.
He moved on to Cairo in 1929, where he developed an interest in philosophy, which he proceeded to study at Harvard (under Alfred North Whitehead) and in Freiberg, Germany (under Martin Heidegger in 1932. His stay in Germany, however, was short-lived. He found the policies of the Nazis unfavorable, and left soon after they came to power in 1933. In 1937, he received his Ph.D. in philosophy (based on the metaphysics in the philosophies of Whitehead and Heidegger) from Harvard University. He taught there as well as at other universities in the United States.
After returning to Lebanon, Malik founded the Philosophy department at the American University, as well as a cultural studies program. He remained in this capacity until 1945 when he was appointed to be the Lebanese ambassador to the United States and the United Nations.
Malik represented Lebanon at the San Francisco conference at which the United Nations was founded. He served as a rapporteur for the Commission on Human Rights in 1947 and 1948, when he became President of the Economic and Social Council. The same year, he helped to draft the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He remained as ambassador to the US and UN until 1955. He was an outspoken participant in debates in the United Nations General Assembly and often criticized the Soviet Union. After a three-year absence, he returned in 1958 to preside over the thirteenth session of the United Nations General Assembly.
Meanwhile, Malik had been appointed to the Lebanese Cabinet. He was Minister of National Education and Fine Arts in 1956 and 1957, and Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1956 to 1958. While a Minister, he was elected to the National Assembly in 1957, and served there for three years.
Malik returned to his academic career in 1960. He travelled extensively, lectured on human rights and other subjects, and held professorships at a number of American universities including Harvard, the American University in Washington, DC, Dartmouth College (New Hampshire), University of Notre Dame (Indiana). In 1981, he was also a Pascal Lecturer at the University of Waterloo in Canada. His last official post was with The Catholic University of America (Washington, DC), where he served as a Jacques Maritain Distinguished Professor of Moral and Political Philosophy from 1981 to 1983. Meanwhile, he had also returned to his old chair in Philosophy at the American University of Beirut (1962 to 1976).
Following the outbreak of the Lebanese Civil War, which raged from 1975 to 1990, Malik helped to found the Front for Freedom and Man in Lebanon, to defend the Christian cause. It was later renamed the Lebanese Front, who included Phalangist Party founder Pierre Gemayel and former President and National Liberal Party leader Camille Chamoun.
Malik was also noted as a theologian who successfully reached across confessional lines, appealing to his fellow Eastern Orthodox Christians, Roman Catholics, and Evangelicals alike. The author of numerous commentaries on the Bible and on the writings of the early Church Fathers, Malik was one of the few Orthodox theologians of his time to be widely known in Evangelical circles, and the evangelical leader Bill Bright spoke well of him and quoted him. Partly owing to Malik’s ecumenical appeal, as well as to his academic credentials, he 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.
Malik died of cancer in Beirut on 28 December 1987. His son, Habib Malik, is a prominent academic and human rights activist. He was also survived by his brother, the late Father Ramzi Habib Malik, a prominent Catholic priest.
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Charles Malik played a vital role in shaping the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights, Malik’s fellow delegates credited him as the driving force behind the document’s arrangement. He was commended by U.S. State Department aids to Eleanor Roosevelt for being jointly responsible, along with Mrs. Roosevelt, for the document’s adoption.
A strong advocate of the “natural law” approach to defining human rights, Malik believed the UDHR to be more than a document of morally persuasive worth. Like many other representatives on the Commission he understood that the Declaration would be immediately followed by a specific, legally binding treaty.
Still, he was hesitant to regard the Declaration as simply a proclamation of human rights. He believed it to be far more significant than that. In Paris, upon adoption of the Declaration, Malik said that, Whoever values man and his individual freedom above everything else cannot fail to find in the present Declaration a potent ideological weapon. If wielded in complete goodwill, sincerity, and truth, this weapon can prove most significant in the history of the spirit.
Malik’s role in safeguarding international human rights was not confined to his position as Rapporteur within the Commission. He was also President of the Economic and Social Council and Chairman of the Third Committee in 1948 while the UDHR was being deliberated. Upon Eleanor Roosevelt’s retirement as Chair of the Commission on Human Rights in 1951, Charles Malik was chosen as her successor.
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Articles , Works And Books by: Dr. Charles Malik
(1949) “The Challenge of Human Rights”, Behind the Headlines (vol. 9, no. 6, Toronto)
(1949) War and Peace (Stamford, CT: Overbrook Press)
(1950) “The Challenge of Communism”, Chicago Council on Foreign Relations
(1951) The Problem of Asia (Stamford, CN: Overbrook Press)
(1955) The Problem of Coexistence (Evanston, IL: Northwestern Uni-versity Press)
(1958) “Introduction”, in Philip W. Thayer (ed.), Tensions in the Middle East (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press)
(1960) Will the Future Redeem the Past? Address delivered at
eighteenth-century capitol, Williamsburg, Virginia, 11 June 1960
(1960) “The Legacy of Imperialism” (article written with Barbara Ward, Thomas P. Whitney and Robert Strrrausz-Hupe) (Chatham College, NA)
(1962) Christ and Crisis (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company)
(1962) Selection in John N. Brooks (ed.) The One and the Many: The Individual in the Modern World (New York: Harper & Row)
(1962) (with Eugene Carson Blake, Andrew Cordier, John Karefa-Smart, Lin Yutang, Henry Margenau, and Robert Wilson) Christian Perspectives in Contemporary Culture: The Proceedings of the Hanover College Institute, 8-11 March 1960 (Twayne Publishers)
(1963) Man in the Struggle for Peace (New York: Harper & Row)
(1965) Contributor to John Courtney Murray (ed.) Freedom and Man (Kenedy)
(1967) (ed.) God and Man in Contemporary Islamic Thought (Beirut: American University of Beirut)
(1968) Selection in O. Frederick Nolde, Free and Equal: Human
Rights in Ecumenical Perspective (Geneva: World Council of Churches)
(1970) God and Man in Contemporary Christian Thought (Beirut:
American University of Beirut Centennial Publications)
(1972) Survival in an Age of Revolution (Atlanta, GA: Coca-Cola Company)
(1973) Sharl Malik wa-al-qadiyah al-Filastiniyah (Beirut: Mu”assasat
A. Badran)
(1974) The Wonder of Being (Waco: Word Books)
(1974) Lubnan fi dhatihi (Beirut: Mu”assasat A. Badran)
(1977) Almuqaddimah
(1981) A Christian Critique of the University (lntervarsity Press)
(1998) Charles Malik: Dowr Lubnan fi Sana’ al-I”lanal-“Alami li-Haquq al-Insan (Beirut: Nowfal)

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