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295 Section III, Y. THE SECRETARYGENERAL ’S ROLE IN THE U.N. Reproduced from Maung Maung, “The Secretary-General’s Role in the U.N.” in The Guardian IX, no. 1 (January 1962): 15–17, by permission of Daw Khin Myint, wife of the late Dr Maung Maung. Soon the General Assembly will disperse for Christmas, and delegates will go home. The great and burning political issues will have been discussed, the speeches and the gestures will have been made, hitting the headlines sometimes, missing them sometimes. Even more than the big newspapers of New York city, the small paper at home is important for the home-coming delegate. For its readers will judge him by his performance at the session as reported and appraised in its columns over the months since September. How strongly he denounced colonialism or capitalism, how greatly he contributed to making the U Thant, Burma’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, was appointed Acting Secretary-General of the United Nations by unanimous vote of the 103-member States on November 3, 1961. He will serve out the unexpired term of the late Mr Dag Hammarskjold up to April 10, 1963. U Thant’s election by the General Assembly followed also the unanimous recommendation of the Security Council. It ended the crisis brought about by the sudden death of Mr Hammarskjold in a plane crash on September 13, 1961. 03Y DrMaung.indd 295 1/24/08 2:48:32 PM Reproduced from Dr Maung Maung: Gentleman, Scholar, Patriot by Robert H. Taylor (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2008). This version was obtained electronically direct from the publisher on condition that copyright is not infringed. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior permission of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Individual articles are available at 296 DR MAUNG MAUNG: Gentleman, Scholar, Patriot cold war hot or the hot war cold, how eloquently he called upon the nations to disarm or arm now to disarm afterwards, and perhaps most important of all, how, in sweet and smiling diplomacy, he dealt nice blows at the fellows from you know where, without too obviously offending the points of order. By these hard tests, and many more, will he be judged. At the United Nations headquarters the staff will carry on with their work, somewhat relieved in mind that the Assembly has recessed, but their burdens unlightened, for there will be much tidying up to do in addition to their regular duties. The Secretary-General in his office on the 38th floor of the standing-match-box of a building, his principal advisers, the directors of divisions, and those who are most closely concerned with the translation of policy into action, will have on their desks a number of resolutions to read and interpret and apply through directives to their staff who are organized in layers of the Secretariat or scattered in agencies or teams or missions or alone as individuals all over the globe. Where the issues are sensitive and urgent as well, the resolutions are apt to be vague, for they can only embody just that much of substance on which nations which disagree on many basic problems that confront mankind can agree. The Secretary-General, the chief executive of the United Nations, in whose lap the members have left their hopes and expectations described in resolutions that sometimes defy the most effective rules of interpretation, must act. The U.N. police force put into the Congo must move and perform some mission; it needs to be fed and kept and directed. The U.N. “presence” that may have been established in some troubled country faraway needs to be fed and kept and directed. And these are just the explosive problems that burst upon the world scene now and then, like Korea and Suez, Laos and the Congo. There are many other areas, increasing every year in number and scope, in which the U.N. is at work, and these call for administration and the employment of a variety of resources. All these problems and tasks lie in the lap of the Secretary-General, and his only consolation perhaps is that it is a great cause that he serves and that he has on call the best talents and skills that the world possesses through his advisers, officers and experts. The world today is as close to the world community as we can hope for, and the United Nations is the...


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