Portal:United Nations/Selected biography

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Selected biography

Ban Ki-moon

Ban Ki-moon (born 13 June 1944) is a South Korean diplomat and the current Secretary-General of the United Nations. Ban was the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea from January 2004 to November 2006. On 13 October 2006, he was elected to be the eighth Secretary-General by the United Nations General Assembly. On 1 January 2007, he succeeded Kofi Annan, and passed several major reforms regarding peacekeeping and UN employment practices.

Diplomatically, Ban has taken particularly strong views on global warming, pressing the issue repeatedly with U.S. President George W. Bush, and Darfur, where he helped persuade Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to allow peacekeeping troops to enter Sudan.

Kofi Annan

Kofi Annan (born 8 April 1938) is a Ghanaian diplomat who served as the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1 January 1997 to 1 January 2007, serving two five-year terms. Annan was the co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001.

On 13 December 1996, Annan was recommended by the United Nations Security Council to be Secretary-General, and was confirmed four days later by vote of the General Assembly. Annan took the oath of office without delay, starting his first term as Secretary-General on 1 January 1997. Annan replaced outgoing Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali of Egypt, becoming the first person from a black African nation to serve as Secretary-General.

Boutros-Boutros Ghali in 1995 at the World Economic Forum in Davos

Boutros Boutros-Ghali (born 14 November 1922) is an Egyptian diplomat who was the sixth Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1 January 1992 to 1 January 1997. Before being elected in 1991, he was Egypt's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, and played a part in the peace agreements between Egypt and Israel.

Serving only one five-year term at the UN, Boutros-Ghali's time in office was controversial, and he became entangled in controversies relating to the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, the Angolan civil war, and the Yugoslav wars. A 1996 resolution granting him a second term was vetoed by the United States, and he was subsequently succeed by Kofi Annan the following year.

Shashi Tharoor

Shashi Tharoor (born 9 March 1956) is a British-born Indian writer and diplomat who was a candidate for the post of Secretary-General in 2006, losing to Ban Ki-moon. Working at the UN from 1978 to 2007, Tharoor had served with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, whose Singapore office he headed during the "boat people" crisis.

He became a senior official at the New York headquarters in 1989, where, until late 1996, he was responsible for peacekeeping operations in the former Yugoslavia. He was named in 1998 as a "Global Leader of Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and in 2007 he accepted the prestigious Pravasi Bharatiya Samman award, India’s highest honour for non-resident Indians.

Dag Hammarskjöld

Dag Hammarskjöld (29 July 1905 – 18 September 1961) was a Swedish diplomat and the second Secretary-General of the United Nations, serving from April 1953 until his death in a plane crash in September 1961.

During his time in office, Hammarskjöld tried to smooth relations between Israel and the Arab states, negotiated the release of 15 U.S. pilots who had captured by the Chinese during the Korean War, established the United Nations Emergency Force, and intervened in the Suez Crisis. While overseeing the decolonization of Africa, he was strongly criticized by the Soviet Union for his decision to send a UN emergency force to keep the peace.

Hammarskjöld is still the only UN Secretary-General to die in office, and is the only person to have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize posthumously. U.S. President John F. Kennedy called Hammarskjöld "the greatest statesman of our century".

Susan Rice, US Ambassador to the UN
Susan Rice (born 17 November 1964) is an American foreign policy advisor and the permanent United States Ambassador to the United Nations. Rice was as a foreign policy aide to Michael Dukakis during the 1988 presidential election. She served at various posts in the Clinton administration before being appointed Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs in 1997, a post she held until the end of Clinton's presidency in 2001. Rice joined the Brookings Institution in 2002, and focused on U.S. foreign policy, weak and failing states, the implications of global poverty, and transnational threats to security. During the 2008 presidential campaign, she served as a foreign policy advisor to Barack Obama, and was nominated by him to be the United States Ambassador to the United Nations after his election win.

Angelina Jolie

Angelina Jolie (born 4 June 1979) is an American film actor and a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Refugee Agency. Jolie first became personally aware of worldwide humanitarian crises while filming Tomb Raider in poverty-stricken and widely mined Cambodia, and since then she has received wide recognition for her humanitarian work.

In 2003, Jolie was the first recipient of the newly created Citizen of the World Award by the United Nations Correspondents Association, and in 2005, she was awarded the Global Humanitarian Award by the UNA-USA. Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni awarded Jolie Cambodian citizenship in 2005 for her conservation work in the country. In 2007, Jolie became a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and she received the Freedom Award by the International Rescue Committee.

George McGovern

George McGovern (19 July 1922– 21 October 2012) was a former United States Representative, Senator, and Democratic presidential nominee. McGovern lost the 1972 presidential election in a landslide to incumbent Richard Nixon. As a decorated World War II combat veteran, McGovern was noted for his opposition to the Vietnam War.

During his time as Director of the US Food for Peace Programmes, McGovern proposed establishing a multilateral food aid programme, which resulted in the creation of the United Nations World Food Programme in 1960. A longtime leader in ensuring nutrition and food security and fighting hunger and poverty, McGovern was appointed United Nations Ambassador on World Hunger in 2001. In 2008, he and Senator Bob Dole were named the 2008 World Food Prize Laureates for their work to promote school-feeding programs globally.

U Thant

U Thant (22 January 1909 – 25 November 1974) was a Burmese diplomat and the third Secretary-General of the United Nations, from 1961 to 1971. His participation in international relations started when he was secretary of the first Asian-African summit in 1955 at Bandung, Indonesia, which gave birth to the Non-Aligned Movement. In 1957, Thant became Burma's Permanent Representative to the UN., and in 1960 the Burmese government awarded him the title Maha Thray Sithu as a commander in the Pyidaungsu Sithu Thingaha Order.

Thant was unanimously appointed UN Secretary-General on 30 November 1962, after serving as Acting Secretary-General after Dag Hammarskjöld's death. During his time in office, he was noted for his role in defusing the Cuban Missile Crisis and ending the Congo civil war, he oversaw the UN entry of dozens of new Asian and African states and was a firm opponent of apartheid in South Africa. He also established many of the UN's development and environmental agencies, funds and programmes, including the UN Development Programme, the UN University and the UN Environmental Programme.

Javier Pérez de Cuéllar

Javier Pérez de Cuéllar (born 19 January 1920) is a Peruvian diplomat who served as the fifth Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1982 to 1991. He studied in Colegio San Agustín of Lima, and then at Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú.

Pérez de Cuéllar joined the Peruvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1940, and in 1944 began serving as Secretary, then Ambassador, at seven countries' Embassies. He was a member of the Peruvian delegation to the first UN General Assembly session in 1946, as well as the 25th through 30th sessions. In 1971, he was appointed the UN's Permanent Representative of Peru, and was appointed as United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Special Political Affairs in 1979.

Pérez de Cuéllar succeeded Kurt Waldheim as Secretary-General in 1981. During his two terms, he led mediations between Britain and Argentina in the aftermath of the Falklands War and promoted efforts to bring peace and stability to Central America. He also interceded in the negotiations for the independence of Namibia, conflict in Western Sahara, and the Cyprus issue. After serving at the UN, Pérez de Cuéllar returned to Peruvian politics, eventually retiring in France in 2004.

Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan

Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan KCSS (17 January 1933 – 12 May 2003) served as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from 1966 to 1978, during which he reoriented the agency's focus beyond Europe and prepared it for an explosion of complex refugee issues. He was also a proponent of greater collaboration between non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and UN agencies. The Prince's interest in ecological issues led him to establish the Bellerive Foundation in the late 1970s, and he was a knowledgeable and respected collector of Islamic art.

Born in Paris, France, he was the son of Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan and Princess Andrée Aga Khan. He married twice, but had no children of his own. Prince Sadruddin died of cancer at the age of 70, and was buried in Switzerland.

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