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U Thant
Birth: Jan. 22, 1909
Ayeyarwady Region, Myanmar (Burma)
Death: Nov. 25, 1974
New York
New York County (Manhattan)
New York, USA

United Nations (UN) Secretary-General. He served in this position from November 1961 until December 1971 and was selected for the post when his predecessor, Dag Hammarskjold, died in a plane crash in September 1961. He is probably best remembered for facilitating the negotiations between US President John F. Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev during the Cuban Missile Crisis, thereby narrowly averting the possibility of a major global catastrophe. Born in Pantanaw, British Burma, British India, into a family of well-to-do landowners and rice merchants, he received his education at the National High School in Pantanaw and at Rangoon University (now Yangon University), in present-day Yangon, Myanmar, where he studied history. At age 14, his father died and a series of inheritance disputes forced his mother into difficult financial times. After completing his education, he returned to Pantanaw to teach at the National High School and at the age of 25, he became its headmaster. When U Nu became the prime minister of the newly independent Burma, he asked him to join him in Rangoon and appointed him director of broadcasting in 1948. The following year, he was appointed secretary to the government of Burma in the Ministry of Information. From 1951 to 1957, he was secretary to the prime minister, writing his speeches, arranging his foreign travel, meeting foreign visitors, and became U Nu's closest confidant and advisor. In 1955 he became the secretary of the first Asian–African summit at Bandung, Indonesia, which gave birth to the Non-Aligned Movement. From 1957 to 1961, he was Burma's permanent representative to the UN and became actively involved in negotiations over Algerian independence from France. In 1961, the Burmese government awarded him the title Maha Thray Sithu as a commander in the order of Pyidaungsu Sithu. In November 1961 he began serving as acting Secretary-General, when he was unanimously appointed by the General Assembly, on the recommendation of the Security Council, to fill the unexpired term of Dag Hammarskjöld. He was then unanimously appointed secretary-general by the General Assembly on November 30, 1962, for a term of office ending on 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 Belgian Congo. In April 1964 he accepted Pope Paul VI's designation of itself as a permanent observer. In December 1963, when intercommunal clashes broke out on the island of Cyprus between Greek and Turkish residents, the UN Security Council authorized him to established a UN peacekeeping force there in March 1964, with a limited three-month mandate to prevent the recurrence of fighting, to help maintain law and order, and to aid in the return to normal conditions. A mediator was appointed to seek a peaceful settlement to the problem but it was rejected by Turkey in March 1965 and the function of mediator lapsed when the mediator resigned in December of that year. In November 1967 another crisis occurred in Cyprus, but threatened military intervention by Turkey was averted, largely as a result of US opposition. Negotiations conducted by Cyrus Vance for the US and José Rolz-Bennett on behalf of the UN Secretary-General led to a settlement. He was re-appointed Secretary-General of the UN by the General Assembly in December 1966, on the unanimous recommendation of the Security Council. He was widely criticized in the US and Israel for agreeing to pull UN troops out of the Sinai in 1967 in response to a request from Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. He attempted to persuade Nasser not to go to war with Israel by flying to Cairo in a last-minute peace effort, prior to the start of the Six-Day War. His once good relationship with the US government deteriorated rapidly when he publicly criticized American conduct of the Vietnam War and his secret attempts at direct peace talks between Washington and Hanoi were eventually rejected by the Johnson Administration. Other world events that occurred during his tenure include the Prague Spring and subsequent Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, and the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 leading to the birth of Bangladesh. He retired as Secretary-General of the UN in December 1971 and died of lung cancer in New York City, New York at the age of 65. In 1965 he received the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding. The U Thant Peace Award, first offered in 1982, acknowledges and honors individuals or organizations for distinguished accomplishments toward the attainment of world peace. (bio by: William Bjornstad) 
 
Burial:
Rangoon University Student Union
Rangoon
Yangon Region, Myanmar (Burma)
 
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: Ron Moody
Record added: Feb 09, 2002
Find A Grave Memorial# 6165893
U Thant
Added by: Ron Moody
 
U Thant
Added by: Erik Lander
 
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