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Thant Myint-U is an historian and a former United Nations official. He is also the author of the bestselling [1] and critically acclaimed [2] The River of Lost Footsteps: A Personal History of Burma (Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2006 and Faber and Faber 2007)

He was born 31 January 1966 in New York city to Burmese parents and is the grandson of former UN Secretary-General U Thant[3]. 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.

Following the 1988 pro-democracy uprising in Burma, he spent a year on the Burmese-Thai border mainly assisting Burmese refugees and asylum seekers[4]. He then spent two years in Washington D.C., in part working on Burma issues for Human Rights Watch and the US Committee for Refugees.

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 Officer in the Office of the UN's Special Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina.[5]

From 1995-1999 he was a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge[6], where he taught and researched Asian and British colonial history. In 1999 he left Trinity College to become the Executive Officer of the Stockholm-based International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance.

In 2000 he joined the UN Secretariat in New York, first with the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and then with the United Nations Department of Political Affairs, becoming in 2004 head of the Policy Planning Unit in that department.[7] 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"[8]. In late 2005 and early 2006 he was briefly a Senior Officer in the Executive Office of the Secretary-General working on UN reform issues.

In addition to "The River of Lost Footsteps", he is also the author of The Making of Modern Burma (Cambridge University Press 2000) and "The UN Secretariat: A Brief History" (IPA 2007)[9]. He has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, the LA Times [10] the International Herald Tribune, The London Review of Books[11], the New Statesman, the Far Eastern Economic Review, Time Magazine[12] and The Times Literary Supplement.

He has also held visiting fellowships at Harvard University, the International Peace Institute in New York [13], and the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore and was for many years a Research Associate of the Cambridge Centre for History and Economics.

External links


  1. ^
  2. ^ 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
  3. ^ Myint-U, Thant, The River of Lost Footsteps: A Personal History of Burma, preface.
  4. ^ "In the Jungle at the Burmese Border, Last Stand for Burmese Students", NY Times 25 June 1989
  5. ^ 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
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  10. ^,0,2972504.story?coll=la-sunday-commentary
  11. ^
  12. ^,9171,1657582,00.html
  13. ^


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