Resources on Faith, Ethics and Public Life

U Thant

This individual is not a direct affiliate of the Berkley Center.

U Thant of Burma served as the third secretary-general of the United Nations from 1961 to 1971. During his early political years, Thant wrote speeches for close friend and Burmese prime minister U Nu, arranged his foreign travel, and met with foreign visitors. From 1957 to 1961, Thant served as Burma’s representative to the UN. In 1961, Thant was unanimously appointed secretary-general by the General Assembly upon recommendation from the Security Council. While in office, Thant helped diffuse the Cuban Missile Crisis and end civil war in the Congo. Upon retiring in 1971, Thant remained on speaking terms with all the big powers, but he passed away only three years later due to lung cancer. Today, a tomb located at the former Rangoon Student University Center in Burma commemorates Thant’s life and immense contributions to international relations.

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