Thant, U

Thant, U
born Jan. 22, 1909, Pantanaw, Burma
died Nov. 25, 1974, New York, N.Y., U.S.

Third secretary-general of the United Nations (1961–71), the first Asian to hold the post.

He entered the University of Yangôn, but the death of his father forced him to discontinue his education before he was able to graduate. He taught high school before entering government service. Posted to the UN in 1952, he became Burma's UN ambassador in 1957. In 1961 he became acting secretary-general after the death of Dag Hammarskjöld; he became permanent secretary-general in 1962. While secretary-general, he played a diplomatic role in the Cuban missile crisis, devised a plan to end the Congolese civil war (1962), and sent peacekeeping forces to Cyprus (1964).

* * *

▪ secretary general of UN
born Jan. 22, 1909, Pantanaw, Burma [now Myanmar]
died Nov. 25, 1974, New York, N.Y., U.S.
 Myanmar educator, civil servant, and third secretary general of the United Nations (1962–71). Neutralist by inclination and in practice, he criticized both West and East for actions and attitudes that he considered threatening to world peace.

      Thant was educated at the University of Yangon (Rangoon), later the Arts and Science University, where he met Thakin Nu (afterward U Nu, who became prime minister of Myanmar in 1948). The death of Thant's father (1928) forced him to leave the university before graduation, and he returned to his hometown as a teacher at the National High School and later (from 1931) as headmaster. In 1942 he was secretary to the educational reorganization committee of the government of Japanese-occupied Burma. From 1943 to 1947 he once more was headmaster at Pantanaw.

      After World War II Thant was recruited for government service by U Nu and General U Aung San, leader of the Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League. He was appointed press director (1947), director of broadcasting (1948), and secretary of the Ministry of Information (1949). In 1952–53 he was a Myanmar (Burmese) delegate to the UN, becoming his country's permanent UN representative in 1957. He was vice president of the UN General Assembly in 1959.

      After the death of UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld, the United States and the Soviet Union, failing to agree on a permanent successor, accepted U Thant as a compromise candidate for the acting secretaryship, to which he was elected on Nov. 3, 1961. On Nov. 30, 1962, he was elected permanent secretary general, and he was re-elected for five years on Dec. 2, 1966; he retired at the end of 1971. A devout Buddhist, he sought to apply the principles of detachment and concentration to the solving of international problems.

      U Thant died in New York City of cancer, and his body was returned to Yangon for burial. There it became involved in a bizarre tug of war between university students, who seized it on Dec. 5, 1974, and buried it in a hastily built mausoleum in the grounds of the Arts and Science University, and police, who retrieved it by force on December 11, buried it privately, and sealed the tomb in concrete. Subsequent rioting led to the military regime's declaration of martial law in the city and to several deaths.

      Thant wrote (in Burmese) books on the history of cities, the League of Nations, and Myanmar education, as well as a three-volume history of post-World War II Myanmar (1961). A collection of his public addresses and essays from 1957 to 1963 was published as Toward World Peace (1964), and View from the UN (1978), an account of his years as secretary general, was published posthumously.

* * *

Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Thant,U — Thant (thänt, thănt), U. 1909 1974. Burmese diplomat who served as the secretary general of the United Nations (1961 1971). * * * …   Universalium

  • Thant — [thänt, tänt, thant] U [o͞o] 1909 74; Burmese statesman & diplomat: secretary general of the United Nations (1962 71) …   English World dictionary

  • Thant — /thant, thont/, n. U. See U Thant. * * * …   Universalium

  • Thant — (Sithu U) (1909 1974) diplomate birman; secrétaire général des Nations unies de 1961 à 1971 …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Thant, U —    (1909 1974)    Serving as secretary general of the United Nations, U Thant was arguably the best known Burmese on the international stage until Aung San Suu Kyi won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. A close associate of U Nu, he served as… …   Historical Dictionary of Burma (Myanmar)

  • Thant, U — (22 ene. 1909, Pantanaw, Birmania–25 nov. 1974, Nueva York, N.Y., EE.UU.). Tercer Secretario General de las Naciones Unidas (NU) (1961–71), primer asiático en ocupar el puesto. Ingresó a la Universidad de Yangon, pero la muerte de su padre lo… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Thant — [[t]tɑnt, θɑnt, θænt[/t]] n. big U [[t]u[/t]] U Thant …   From formal English to slang

  • Thant — /θænt/ (say thant), /θʌnt/ (say thunt) noun U /ju/ (say yooh), /u/ (say ooh), 1909–74, Burmese diplomat; secretary general of the UN 1961–71 …   Australian-English dictionary

  • Thant — biographical name U 1909 1974 Burmese U.N. official; secretary general (1961 71) …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Thant — Thạnt,   U Thạnt, Sithu, birmanischer Politiker, * Pantanaw (Irawadidelta) 22. 1. 1909, ✝ New York 25. 11. 1974; zunächst im Schuldienst; schloss sich mit U Nu der von Aung San geführten birmanischen Befreiungsbewegung (»Anti Fascist People s… …   Universal-Lexikon

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”