A Brief History
Succeeding Mr. Lie, a questionable name for a diplomat, was the even harder to pronounce Dag Hammarskjöld of Sweden. Next up to the plate was a diplomat with a succinct first name consisting of only a single letter, U Thant of Burma, now Myanmar.
After U came the more pedestrian sounding Kurt Waldheim, although this man has been rumored to have been a war criminal during World War II. From 1992 to 1996, the UN was headed by an Egyptian named Boutros Boutros-Ghali. Kofi Anan and Ban Ki-moon sound almost plain by comparison.
As the UN represents all nations, we would expect a rich variety of names from all over the world and take pleasure in that variety.
(Note: Prior to an actual Secretary General, Gladwyn Jebb of the UK was the nominal head of the UN, and his first name qualifies as pretty nifty!)
Question for students (and subscribers): Is the UN fulfilling its mission? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see…
Fasulo, Linda. An Insider’s Guide to the UN. Yale University Press, 2021.
HanhimÃ¤ki, Jussi. The United Nations: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press, 2015.
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