U Thant

Thant, known honorifically as U Thant, was a Burmese diplomat and the third Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1961 to 1971, the first non-European to hold the position. He held the office for a record 10 years and one month.

Born: 22 January 1909, Pantanaw, Myanmar (Burma)

Died: 25 November 1974, New York City, New York, United States

To understand my feelings — and my conception of the role of Secretary General — the nature of my religious and cultural background must first be understood. I should therefore like to outline not only my beliefs but also my conception of human institutions and of the human situation itself.

The concept of peaceful coexistence has been criticized by many who do not see the need to make the world safe for diversity. I wonder if they have ever paused to ask themselves the question: What is the alternative to coexistence?

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights - This great and inspiring instrument was born of an increased sense of responsibility by the international community for the promotion and protection of man's basic rights and freedoms. The world has come to a clear realization of the fact that freedom, justice and world peace can only be assured through the international promotion and protection of these rights and freedoms.

As a Buddhist, I was trained to be tolerant of everything except intolerance. I was brought up not only to develop the spirit of tolerance but also to cherish moral and spiritual qualities such as modesty, humility, compassion, and, most important, to attain a certain degree of emotional equilibrium.