About Charles Malik – New

A Timeline of Charles Malik’s Life

February 11, 1906

His Birth

Charles Habib Malik was born on 11 February in the small town of Btirram in north Lebanon’s predominantly Greek Orthodox district of Koura.


Archduke Francis Ferdinand is assassinated in Bosnia

On June 28, the same day Malik’s future wife, Eva, was born.


The British government publishes the Balfour Declaration, announcing their support for the establishment of a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine.


Malik finished his undergraduate degree in mathematics and physics at the American University of Beirut

Having excelled in his major, he was recruited to teach mathematics and physics for two years at AUB.


Malik relocated to Cairo, Egypt

Where his father had set up a medical practice to rejoin his family. He spent four years in Egypt working in a local publishing house and on a project studying subtropical diseases directed by the Rockefeller Foundation. Malik decided to pursue the study of philosophy and started writing to experts in the field, including Bertrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead, who shared with him a strong background in mathematics.


Malik moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts

To study philosophy under Alfred North Whitehead at Harvard University on a scholarship.


Malik won the Philosophy Department’s highest award

That would allow him to go anywhere in the world for two years and study with the philosopher of his choice. Charles decided to go to Freiburg in Germany to attend the seminars of Martin Heidegger.


Adolf Hitler comes to power in Germany.


Leaves after fourteen months in Germany

The stifling political atmosphere dominated by the Nazis in power led Malik to cut short his two-year stay and return to Cambridge, Massachusetts where he completed his doctoral dissertation on the metaphysics of time in the philosophies of Whitehead and Heidegger.


Malik returned to his native country, Lebanon

Where he taught philosophy at the American University of Beirut. For the entire duration of WWII, Malik organized several philosophical and theological reading and discussion circles in and around the university, making a mark on students from all walks of life.


WWII Breaks Out


Malik married Eva Badr

She was a graduate student in Arabic Studies at AUB.


Lebanon Declares its Independence from French rule


In August, an American B-29 bomber dropped the world’s first deployed atomic bomb over the Japanese city of Hiroshima


Malik selected to represent his country at the founding conference of the United Nations in San Francisco

The President of the Lebanese Republic selected Malik to represent his country at the founding conference of the United Nations in San Francisco on 25 April and to serve as Lebanon’s first ambassador to the United States. After initial reluctance and intense deliberation, Malik temporarily left the academic life and entered the world of international diplomacy.


Malik contributes to the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted, with many key contributions from Charles Malik. In addition to the philosophically grounded preamble that Malik wrote, and the Commission adopted, he also wrote the crucial Article 18 of the Declaration on religious freedom and the freedom of conscience. He made substantive contributions to several articles including Article 16 on the family. Thanks to Malik’s skillful and tenacious steering of countless meetings in the fall of 1948, including conversations with hesitant delegates from Saudi Arabia, the final version of the UDHR was adopted by the General Assembly on December 10 with no negative votes and only eight abstentions.


On May 15 Israel declares independence and the First Arab-Israeli War erupts


Malik receives his honorary degree from Harvard


The Suez Crisis begins leading to the Second Arab-Israeli War


Malik served as the President of the U.N. General Assembly

After holding positions as the Rapporteur of the U.N. Human Rights Commission, the President of the U.N. Human Rights Commission, and three-time president of the U.N. Security Council.

That same year, as Lebanon’s Minister of Foreign Affairs under President Camille Chamoun, Malik was instrumental in having Lebanon successfully resist domination by Nasser’s Egypt, and in facilitating the entry into Lebanon in July of US Marines to stabilize the situation.


Malik returned to academia

First as a visiting professor at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, and then as a visiting professor at the Harvard University Summer School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Malik spent the remaining part of the 1960s and early 1970s as Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Dean of Graduate Studies at AUB, his old alma mater. During this period, he gave countless speeches and commencement addresses at many North American universities, churches, and leading corporations. Malik throughout his lifetime received close to fifty honorary doctoral degrees from a variety of North American and West European Universities including Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and Columbia.


Construction begins on the Berlin Wall by the communist authorities in East Germany that would divide the city in two halves

1960, 1961, 1964 & 1967

Personal audiences with the Pope

Through personal audiences with Saints Pope John XXIII and Pope Paul VI, and his intimate relations with Ecumenical Patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Church, Athenagoras I, Malik facilitated the three historic encounters between Patriarch Athenagoras and Pope Paul VI, in Jerusalem, Istanbul, and Rome respectively. Charles Malik attended all three encounters in an official capacity by request from Patriarch Athenagoras.


The Cairo Agreement forces Lebanon to accept cross-border attacks by Palestinian fighters from Lebanese territory against Israel


Following the showdown between King Hussein of Jordan and the armed Palestinian presence in that country, the PLO relocates to Lebanon setting the stage for future upheavals


In October the Yom Kippur war breaks out between Israel and adjacent Arab states, Egypt, and Syria.


The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) is allowed to represent the people of Palestine to the United Nations


In April a Palestinian-Lebanese war breaks out in Lebanon that quickly degenerates into civil war between Lebanon’s Christians and Muslims


Malik helped to create the Front for Freedom and Man in Lebanon

A broad coalition of Christian groupings and intellectuals dedicated to preserving Lebanon’s Christian heritage, communal freedoms, and pluralistic society. This body later became the Lebanese Front.


Egypt and Israel sign the Camp David Accords


Malik moved to Washington, D.C

To serve as the Jacques Maritain Distinguished Professor of Moral and Political Philosophy at the Catholic University of America.

December 28, 1987

Charles Malik passed away

Charles Malik passed away in Beirut after a two-year illness

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