Charles H. Malik was born in Bitirram in the Koura district of North Lebanon in 1906. He studied mathematics and physics at the American University of Beirut. In 1932, he studied philosophy under Alfred North Whitehead at Harvard and Martin Hiedegger in Freiburg, Germany. His doctorate (Ph.D., Harvard, 1937) was on the metaphysica of time in the philosophies of Alfred North Whitehead and Marin Hiedegger.
On returning to Beirut, he set up a philosophy department and cultural studies program at the American University.
In 1945, he represented Lebanon at the San Francisco conference to found the United Nations. He has served as Lebanon’s ambassador to the USA (1945-55); President of the UN Economic and Social Council (1948); rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights (1947-48); Lebanon’s Minister of Foreign Affairs (1956-58), Minister of National Education and Fine Arts (1956-57), and MP for the Koura region (1957-60). He chaired the third session of the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee in Paris, which drafted the text for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and, in 1951, succeeded Mrs Roosevelt as President of the Human Rights Commission. In 1958-59, he was President of the UN General Assembly’s thirteenth session.
In 1960, he returned to academic life and taught philosophy at a number of universities in the USA. These included Harvard, the American University of Washington, DC, Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, and Notre Dame University in Indiana. He was professor of philosophy at the American University of Beirut (1962-76) and Jacques Maritain Distinguished Professor of Moral and Political Philosophy at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC (1981-83).
Malik wrote a number of books and articles. He died in Beirut on 28 December 1987.