Saturday, January 31, 2009

On 6 February 2009, the United Nations Postal Administration will issue three commemorative stamps on the theme “100th Anniversary U Thant”, in the denominations of US$ 0.94, CHF 1.30 and € 1.15.

The year 2009 marks the centenary of the birth of U Thant, who served as Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1961 to 1971. He was selected to head the world body when Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld was killed in an air crash in September 1961.

U Thant was born at Pantanaw, Myanmar (formerly called Burma), on 22 January 1909, and was educated at the National High School in Pantanaw and at University College Yangon (formerly called Rangoon). Prior to his diplomatic career, U Thant’s experience was in education and information work.

At the time of his appointment as Acting Secretary-General of the United Nations, U Thant had been Permanent Representative of Burma to the United Nations, with the rank of Ambassador (1957-1961). During that period, he headed the Burmese delegations to the sessions of the General Assembly, and in 1959, he served as one of the Vice-Presidents of the Assembly’s fourteenth session. In 1961, U Thant was Chairman of the United Nations Congo Conciliation Commission and Chairman of the Committee on a United Nations Capital Development Fund. During his diplomatic career, U Thant served on several occasions as Adviser to Prime Ministers of Burma.

U Thant began serving as Acting Secretary-General on 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 the late Secretary-General, Dag Hammarskjöld. 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.

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 (resolution 229, 1966). His term of office continued until 31 December 1971.

U Thant retired at the end of his second term in 1971 and he died on 25 November 1974 after a long illness. He was 65 years old.

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