The first secretary-general, Trygve Lie of Norway, was appointed for a five-year term on 1 February 1946. On 1 November 1950, he was reappointed for three years. He resigned on 10 November 1952 and was succeeded by Dag Hammarskjöld of Sweden on 10 April 1953. On 26 September 1957, Hammarskjöld was appointed for a further five-year term beginning on 10 April 1958. After Hammarskjöld's death in a plane crash in Africa on 17 September 1961, U Thant of Burma was appointed secretary-general on 3 November 1961, to complete the unexpired term. In November 1962, U Thant was appointed secretary-general for a five-year term beginning with his assumption of office on 3 November 1961. On 2 December 1966, his mandate was unanimously renewed for another five years. At the end of his second term, U Thant declined to be considered for a third. In December 1971, the General Assembly appointed Kurt Waldheim of Austria for a five-year term beginning on 1 January 1972. In December 1976, Waldheim was reappointed for a second five-year term, which ended on 31 December 1981. He was succeeded by Javier Pérez de Cuéllar of Peru, who was appointed by the Assembly in December 1981 for a five-year term beginning on 1 January 1982. He was reappointed for a second five-year term beginning on 1 January 1987. In late 1991, Pérez de Cuéllar expressed his wish not to be considered for a third term. On 3 December 1991, the General Assembly appointed Boutros Boutros-Ghali of Egypt to a five-year term beginning on 1 January 1992. On 17 December 1996, Kofi Annan of Ghana was appointed to a five-year term that began on 1 January 1997.
Born in Oslo, Norway, 1896; died in Geilo, Norway, 30 December 1968. Law degree from Oslo University. Active in his country's trade union movement from the age of 15, when he joined the Norwegian Trade Union Youth Organization. At 23, became assistant to the secretary of the Norwegian Labor Party. Legal adviser to the Norwegian Trade Union Federation (1922–35). Elected to the Norwegian Parliament (1935). Minister of justice (1935–39). Minister of trade, industry, shipping, and fishing (1939–40). After the German occupation of Norway in 1940 and until the liberation of Norway in 1945, he was, successively, acting foreign minister and foreign minister of the Norwegian government in exile in London. A prominent anti-Nazi, he rendered many services in the Allied cause during World War II. For example, he was instrumental in preventing the Norwegian merchant marine, one of the world's largest, from falling into German hands. Reelected to Parliament in 1945. Headed the Norwegian delegation to the San Francisco Conference. Secretary-General, 1946–1952.
Born in Jönkönpirg, Sweden, 1905; died in a plane accident while on a peace mission near Ndola, Northern Rhodesia (now Democratic Republic of the Congo), 17 September 1961. Studied at Uppsala and Stockholm universities; Ph.D., Stockholm, 1934. Secretary of Commission on Unemployment (1930–34). Assistant professor of political economy, Stockholm University (1933). Secretary of the Sveriges Riksbank (Bank of Sweden, 1935–36); chairman of the board (1941–45). Undersecretary of state in the Swedish ministry of finance (1936–45). Envoy extraordinary and financial adviser to the ministry of foreign affairs (1946–49). Undersecretary of state (1949). Deputy foreign minister (1951–53). Delegate to the Organization for European Economic Cooperation (OEEC; 1948–53). Vice-chairman of the Executive Committee of the OEEC (1948–49). Swedish delegate to the Commission of Ministers of the Council of Europe (1951–52). Hammarskjöld was a member of the Swedish Academy, which grants the Nobel prizes, and vice-president of the Swedish Tourist and Mountaineers' Association. Secretary-General, 1953–1961.
Born in Pantanaw, near Rangoon, Burma (now Myanmar), 1909; died in New York, 25 November 1974. Educated at University College, Rangoon. Started career as teacher of English and modern history at Pantanaw High School; later headmaster. Active in development and modernization of Burma's educational system. Author and free-lance journalist. Books include a work on the League of Nations (1932), Democracy in Schools (1952), and History of Post-War Burma (1961). After Burma's independence, became Burma's press director (1947), director of broadcasting (1948), and secretary in the ministry of information (1949–53). Chief adviser to his government at many international conferences. Member of Burma's delegation to the 1952 General Assembly. In 1957, moved to New York as head of Burma's permanent delegation to the UN. Secretary-General, 1961–1971.
Born in Sankt Andrä-Wördern, Austria, 21 December 1918. Studied at the Consular Academy of Vienna and took an LL.D. at the University of Vienna. Member of the delegation of Austria in negotiations for Austrian State Treaty, London, Paris, and Moscow (1945–47). First secretary of Austria's legation to France (1948–51). Counselor and head of personnel division, ministry of foreign affairs, Vienna (1951–55). Permanent observer of Austria to the UN (1955–56). Minister, embassy to Canada, Ottawa (1956–58), and ambassador (1958–60). Director-general, political affairs, ministry of foreign affairs, Vienna (1960–64). Ambassador and permanent representative of Austria to the UN (1964– 68 and 1970–71). Austrian minister of foreign affairs (1968–70). Unsuccessful candidate for the presidency of Austria in 1971. UN Secretary-General, 1972–1981. Guest Professor of Diplomacy, Georgetown University, Washington, DC, 1982–84. Author of The Austrian Example, on Austria's foreign policy in 1973; Building the Future Order, in 1980; In the Eye of the Storm, 1985.
In 1986, during his second campaign for the Austrian presidency, information about Waldheim's record as a German Army lieutenant in World War II was reported for the first time in the international press. Despite his previous assertions that he had been wounded at the Russian front in 1941 and then returned to Vienna to study law, it was discovered he had served as a lieutenant in the high command of Army Group E, whose commander, General Alexander Loehr, was later hanged for atrocities. The reports indicated that Waldheim had served in Yugoslavia and Greece, a fact that he had hitherto concealed, at a time when reprisals, deportations, and other war crimes were being carried out by the German Army. In 1987, the US Justice Department, on the basis of an examination of US files and of the records of the War Crimes Commission in the UN archives, placed Waldheim on a watch list, which is used to bar entry to the US for people linked to war crimes.
An international commission of historians appointed by Waldheim, after his election to the presidency of Austria in 1986, reported in February 1988 that it had found evidence that Waldheim was aware of war crimes during his service in the Balkans and had concealed his record but had found no evidence that he himself had committed any crime. The commission's report created a national crisis in the government of Austria and deeply divided the Austrian people. A national poll showed that, while the majority of people did not wish him to resign (as many prominent intellectuals and politicians were loudly insisting), most indicated that they would not vote for him again. Waldheim himself insisted that the commission cleared him of the charge of committing war crimes.
However, the debate over which countries did (or did not) know the facts about Waldheim's war service before or during his tenure as secretary-general continued to surface in the press periodically. There was general agreement that public knowledge of the real nature of Waldheim's war service would have disqualified him for consideration for the post of secretary-general. In August 1994, Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, Democrat of Manhattan, introduced the War Crimes Disclosure Act, H.R. 4995, with the intention of forcing the Central Intelligence Agency to disclose parts of the Waldheim dossier which it has withheld, citing national security interests.
Waldheim served as president of Austria for one term, from 1986 to 1992. In July 1994, Pope John Paul II, a long-time friend of Waldheim's, awarded him the Knighthood of the Order of Pius "for outstanding service as secretary-general of the United Nations." The honor is awarded to Catholics or non-Catholics for outstanding services to the church or society, and is largely symbolic.
Born in Lima, Peru, 19 January 1920. Graduated from the law school of Catholic University, Lima (1943). Joined Peruvian ministry of foreign affairs (1940) and the diplomatic service (1944). Served as secretary at Peruvian embassies in France, the United Kingdom, Bolivia, and Brazil. Returned to Lima (1961) as director of legal and personnel departments, ministry of foreign affairs. Served as ambassador to Venezuela, USSR, Poland, and Switzerland. Member of Peruvian delegation to the 1st General Assembly (1946) and of delegations to the 25th through 30th sessions (1970–75). Permanent representative of Peru to the UN (1971–75). Served as UN secretary-general's special representative in Cyprus (1975–77); UN undersecretary-general for special political affairs (1979–81); and secretary-general's personal representative in Afghanistan (1981). After resigning from the UN, he returned to the ministry of foreign affairs and voluntarily separated from the service of his government on 7 October 1981. UN Secretary-General, 1982–1991. In 1992 UNESCO named him chairman of its World Commission on Culture and Development. The lawyer and career diplomat retired in the late 1990s. He is a former professor of diplomatic law at the Academia de Guerra Aérea del Peru. Author of Manual de derecho diplomático (Manual of International Law), 1964.
Born in Cairo, Egypt, 14 November 1922. Graduated from Cairo University in 1946 with a Bachelor of Law. Received his Ph.D. in international law in 1949 from Paris University. From 1949–77 he was Professor of International Law and International Relations and head of the Department of Political Science at Cairo University. Boutros-Ghali was a Fulbright Research Scholar at Columbia University in 1954–55. He served as director of the Centre of Research of The Hague Academy of International Law from 1963–1964, and was a visiting professor at the Faculty of Law of Paris University from 1967–68. In 1977 he became Egypt's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, and was present at the Camp David Summit Conference during the negotiations that led to the Camp David accords between Egypt and Israel in 1978. He continued as Minister of State for Foreign Affairs until 1991, when he became Deputy Prime Minister of Foreign Affairs. He became a member of the Egyptian parliament in 1987 and was part of the secretariat of the National Democratic Party since 1980. From 1980–92 he was a member of the Central Committee and Political Bureau of the Arab Socialist Union. From 1970–91 he was a member of the UN's International Law Commission. His professional affiliations include membership in the Institute of International Law, the International Institute of Human Rights, the African Society of Political Studies and the Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques (Académie Française, Paris). He founded the publication Al Ahram Iktisadi and was its editor from 1960 to 1975. Boutros-Ghali has authored more than 30 books and over 100 articles on international affairs, international law, foreign policy, diplomacy, human rights, and economic and social development. UN Secretary-General, 1992–1996.
Born in Kumasi, Ghana, on 8 April 1938. Studied at the University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana, and in 1961 completed his undergraduate work in economics at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. During 1961–62, he undertook graduate studies in economics at the Institut universitaire des hautes études internationales in Geneva. Having worked with the UN for over 30 years in various capacities, he is considered the first Secretary-General to rise from within the organization. His first assignment with the United Nations was in 1962 as an Administrative Officer and Budget Officer at the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva. As a Sloan Fellow in 1971–72 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he received a Master of Science in Management. He returned to Ghana from 1974 to 1976 and was the Managing Director of the Ghana Tourist Development Company, serving on both its board and on the Ghana Tourist Control Board. In the UN, he held the position of Deputy Director of Administration and Head of Personnel in the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees during 1980–83, Director of the Budget in the Office of Financial Services during 1984–87, and then as Assistant Secretary-General in the Office of Human Resources Management and Security Coordinator for the UN system during 1987–90. From 1990 to 1992 he served as Assistant Secretary-General for Program Planning, Budget and Finance and Controller of the UN. After the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq in 1990, he was sent to Iraq to facilitate the repatriation of over 900 international staff, and became engaged in negotiations for the release of Western hostages. He also helped bring attention to the situation of the 500,000 Asians stranded in Kuwait and Iraq. He also headed the UN team that negotiated the possible sale of Iraqi oil to buy humanitarian aid. In 1992 he was appointed Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, and became Under-Secretary-General in the same department in March 1993. He also served as a Special Representative of the Secretary-General to the former Yugoslavia and as Special Envoy to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) during the transitional period that followed the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement. Began term as UN Secretary-General, January 1997, and was reappointed on 29 June 2001 for a second term beginning on 1 January 2002.