U Thant

From Academic Kids

Template:Infobox UNSecGen Maha Thray Sithu U Thant (January 22, 1909November 25, 1974) was a Burmese diplomat and the third Secretary-General of the United Nations, from 1961 to 1971. He was chosen for the post when the then Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjld was killed in an air crash in September 1961. To date, he is the only Asian to have served as UN Secretary-General.

'U' is an honorific in Burmese, roughly equal to 'Mister'. Thant was his only name. In Burmese he was known as Pantanaw U Thant, Pantanaw being the name of his home town. "Maha Thray Sithu" is a title, similar to a knighthood, awarded by the Burmese government.

U Thant was born at Pantanaw, Burma, and was educated at the National High School in Pantanaw and at University College, Rangoon, where he studied history. He was the eldest of four sons and was born into a family of well to do land-owners and rice merchants. His father U Po Hnit had helped establish The Sun newspaper in Rangoon and was also a founding member of the Burma Research Society. His father died when Thant was 14 and a series of inheritance disputes forced Thant's mother and her four children into difficult financial times.

After university he returned to Pantanaw to teach at the National School and was became its headmaster by the age of 25. During this time he became close friends with future Prime Minister U Nu, who was from neighbouring Maubin and who was the local superintendent of schools. Thant regularly contributed to several newspapers and magazines, under the pen name Thilawa, and translated a number of books including one on the League of Nations.

When U Nu became the Prime Minister of independent Burma, he asked Thant to join him in Rangoon, appointing him as the government's Director of Broadcasting in 1948. In the following year he was appointed Secretary to the Government of Burma in the Ministry of Information. From 1951 to 1957, Thant was Secretary to the Prime Minister, writing speeches for U Nu, arranging his foreign travel, and meeting foreign visitors. He also took part in a number of international conferences and was the secretary of the first Asian-African summit in 1955 at Bandung, Indonesia which gave birth to the Non-Aligned Movement.

All this time, he was U Nu's closest confidente and advisor. From 1957 to 1961, he was Burma's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, become actively involved in negotiations over Algerian independence. In 1960 the Burmese government awarded him the title Maha Thray Sithuas a commander in the Pyidaungsu Sithu Thingaha Order (similar to order of knights).

Thant began serving as Acting Secretary-General since 3 November 1961, when he was unanimously appointed by the General Assembly, on the recommendation of the Security Council, to fill the unexpired term of Dag Hammarskjld. He was then unanimously appointed Secretary-General by the General Assembly on 30 November 1962 for a term of office ending on 3 November 1966. During this first term he was widely credited for his role in defusing the Cuban Missile Crisis and for ending the civil war in the Congo.

U Thant was re-appointed for a second term as Secretary-General of the United Nations by the General Assembly on 2 December 1966 on the unanimous recommendation of the Security Council. His term of office continued until December 31, 1971, when he retired. During his time he office, he oversaw the entry into the UN of dozens of new Asian and African states and was a firm opponent of apartheid in South Africa. He also established many of the UN's development and environmental agencies, funds and programmes, including the UN Development Progamme, the UN University, UNCTAD, UNITAR and the UN Environmental Programme.

The Six Day War between Arab countries and Israel, the Prague Spring and subsequent Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, and the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 leading to the birth of Bangladesh all took place during his tenure as Secretary-General.

He was widely critized in the US and Israel for agreeing to pull out UN troops in the Sinai in 1967 in response to a request for Egyptian President Nasser. In fact, countries such as India and Yugoslavia which had contributed the troops had already agreed to pull them out, and U Thant was the only world statesman who actually tried to persuade Nasser not to go to war with Israel by flying to Cairo in a last minute peace effort.

His once good relationship with the US government deteriorated rapidly when he publically critized American conduct of the Vietnam War. His secret attempts at direct peace talks between Washington and Hanoi were eventually rejected by the Johnson Administration.

He died of cancer in New York in 1974. By this time Burma was ruled by a military government which refused him any honors, largely the result of his close links with the democractic government of U Nu. This led to large anti-government demonstrations which were violently surpressed. He is now buried at the foot of the Shwedagon Pagoda in Rangoon.

Belmont Island, in New York City waters across from United Nations headquarters, has been unofficially renamed U Thant Island and dedicated to the Secretary-General's legacy. He was married to Daw Thein Tin (1900-1989). He is survived by a daughter, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. His only grandson Thant Myint-U is an historian and a senior official in the UN's Department of Political Affairs.

External links

Preceded by:
Dag Hammarskjld
UN Secretary-General
Succeeded by:
Kurt Waldheim

Template:End boxda:U Thant de:Sithu U Thant es:U Thant nl:U Thant ja:ウ・タント no:U Thant pl:U Thant fi:U Thant zh-cn:吴丹


Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Art)
    • Architecture (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Architecture)
    • Cultures (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Cultures)
    • Music (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Music)
    • Musical Instruments (http://academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/List_of_musical_instruments)
  • Biographies (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Biographies)
  • Clipart (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Clipart)
  • Geography (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Geography)
    • Countries of the World (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Countries)
    • Maps (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Maps)
    • Flags (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Flags)
    • Continents (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Continents)
  • History (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/History)
    • Ancient Civilizations (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Ancient_Civilizations)
    • Industrial Revolution (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Industrial_Revolution)
    • Middle Ages (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Middle_Ages)
    • Prehistory (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Prehistory)
    • Renaissance (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Renaissance)
    • Timelines (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Timelines)
    • United States (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/United_States)
    • Wars (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Wars)
    • World History (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/History_of_the_world)
  • Human Body (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Human_Body)
  • Mathematics (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Mathematics)
  • Reference (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Reference)
  • Science (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Science)
    • Animals (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Animals)
    • Aviation (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Aviation)
    • Dinosaurs (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Dinosaurs)
    • Earth (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Earth)
    • Inventions (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Inventions)
    • Physical Science (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Physical_Science)
    • Plants (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Plants)
    • Scientists (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Scientists)
  • Social Studies (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Social_Studies)
    • Anthropology (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Anthropology)
    • Economics (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Economics)
    • Government (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Government)
    • Religion (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Religion)
    • Holidays (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Holidays)
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Solar_System)
    • Planets (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Planets)
  • Sports (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Sports)
  • Timelines (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Timelines)
  • Weather (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Weather)
  • US States (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/US_States)


  • Home Page (http://academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php)
  • Contact Us (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Contactus)

  • Clip Art (http://classroomclipart.com)
Personal tools