Thant Myint-U

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Thant Myint-U
Native name သန့်မြင့်ဦး
Born (1966-01-31) January 31, 1966 (age 49)
New York City, United States
Alma mater Harvard University
Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies
University of Cambridge
Occupation Historian
Parent(s) Tyn Myint-U
Aye Aye Thant
Relatives U Thant (grandfather)
Khinlei Myint-U (sister)
A-Thi Myint-U (sister)
Aye Myint Myint-U (sister)

Thant Myint-U (Burmese: သန့်မြင့်ဦး [θa̰ɴ mjɪ̰ɴ ʔú]; born 31 January 1966) is an historian, a past Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, an adviser to the President of Myanmar, and the founder and chairman of the Yangon Heritage Trust.[1] He is also the author of two bestselling[2][3] and critically acclaimed books, The River of Lost Footsteps: A Personal History of Burma[4] and Where China Meets India: Burma and the New Crossroads of Asia[5] (Farrar, Straus and Giroux and Faber and Faber 2011).

He was named by the Foreign Policy Magazine as one of the "100 Leading Global Thinkers" of 2013 and by Prospect Magazine as one of 50 "World Thinkers" of 2014.[6][7] He was voted 15th in Prospect Magazine's subsequent poll of "World's Leading Thinkers" [8]

Early life and education[edit]

Thant Myint-U was born in New York City to Burmese parents and is the grandson of former UN Secretary-General U Thant.[9] His father Tyn Myint-U is a mathematics professor at Fairfield University in Connecticut and he has 3 sisters.[10]

He was educated at Harvard, the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies and the University of Cambridge. He received his PhD in history from Cambridge University in 1996.

From 1994 to 1999 he was a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge,[11] where he taught Asian and British imperial history. He has also lectured extensively, including at Stanford, University of California at Berkeley, Johns Hopkins, Columbia, Yale, Harvard, Cambridge, London University, and the Australian National University.


Thant Myint-U has served in three UN peacekeeping operations. He first worked with the UN from 1992-3, as a Human Rights Officer in the UN Transitional Authority for Cambodia in Phnom Penh. In 1994 he was the Chief Spokesman for the UN Protection Force in the former Yugoslavia, based in Sarajevo, and in 1996 was a Political Advisor in the Office of the UN's Special Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina.[12]

In 2000 he joined the UN Secretariat in New York, working first in the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and then in the United Nations Department of Political Affairs, becoming in 2004 Chief of the Policy Planning Unit in that department.[13] During this time he was also a member of the secretariat of the Secretary-General's Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change (High Level Threat Panel) which produced "A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility".[14] In late 2005 and early 2006 he was briefly a Senior Officer in the Executive Office of the Secretary-General coordinating the establishment of the new Peacebuilding Commission, Peacebuilding Support Office, and the Mediation Support Unit, and other related reforms.

In addition to being Chairman of the Yangon Heritage Trust, he is currently a member of the (President of Myanmar's) National Economic and Social Advisory Council,[15] a Special Advisor to the Myanmar government at the Myanmar Peace Centre, a Senior Research Fellow of the Myanmar Development Resources Institute, a member of the Fund Board of the (Myanmar) Livelihoods and Food Security Trust Fund.,[16] and the Vice Chairman of the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council for South East Asia.

He has also held visiting fellowships at Harvard University, the International Peace Institute in New York,[17] and the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, was for many years a Research Associate of the Cambridge Centre for History and Economics, and is a Research Associate of the Cambridge Centre for South Asian Studies.

Literary Works[edit]

In addition to The River of Lost Footsteps and Where China Meets India: Burma and the New Crossroads of Asia, he is also the author of The Making of Modern Burma (Cambridge University Press 2000) and The UN Secretariat: A Brief History (Lynne Rienner 2007).[18] He has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times[19] the International Herald Tribune, The London Review of Books,[20] the New Statesman, the Far Eastern Economic Review, Time magazine[21] and The Times Literary Supplement. He was awarded the "Asia Pacific Awards" (Asian Affairs Research Council and Mainichi Newspapers) "Special Prize" in November 2014 for "Where China Meets India"


  1. ^ "Historic Yangon cityscape thrown a lifeline". Retrieved 2012-08-11. 
  2. ^ "Reader favourites this week: Thant Myint-U and Doris Lessing". Monsters and Critics. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2012-08-11. 
  3. ^ "Thant Myint-U, Amish Tripathi rule book charts - The Times of India". The Times Of India. 
  4. ^ See for example John Lancaster, "Walled Off: Can Burma Escape Its History?", The New Yorker December 11, 2006 or Nicholas Shakespeare, "Burma: A Poisoned Shangri-la" The Sunday Telegraph March 11, 2007 or Su Lin Lewis, "Meteoric Fall", Times Literary Supplement, April 13, 2007
  5. ^ See for example, Siddhartha Deb, "Where China Meets India", The Guardian, 19 August 2011
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ Myint-U, Thant, The River of Lost Footsteps: A Personal History of Burma, preface.
  10. ^ Borton, James (25 December 2002). "Holiday homecoming for U Thant's daughter". Asia Times. Retrieved 8 April 2012. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ Thant Myint-U and Elizabeth Sellwood, "Knowledge and Multilateral Interventions: The UN's Experiences and Cambodia and Bosnia-Hercegovina", Royal Institute of International Affairs 2000
  13. ^ -
  14. ^ "Report of the Secretary-General's High-level Panel". Retrieved 2012-08-11. 
  15. ^ "New govt advisory body takes shape". Retrieved 2012-08-11. 
  16. ^ "Livelihoods and Food Security Trust Fund". Retrieved 2012-08-11. 
  17. ^
  18. ^ "Lynne Rienner Publishers | individual book". Retrieved 2012-08-11. 
  19. ^ Myint-U, Thant (14 October 2007). "Saving Burma the right way". Los Angeles Times. 
  20. ^ "Thant Myint-U · What to do about Burma: Are we getting it wrong? · LRB 8 February 2007". Retrieved 2012-08-11. 
  21. ^ Myint-U, Thant (30 August 2007). "From Bad to Worse". Time.