The U Thant Institute is a non-political, non-sectarian, non-profit and non-stock corporation that reflects and promotes the values and ideals of the third Secretary-General of the United Nations.
The institute was inaugurated at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on December 3, 2003 by its founder and president, Daw Aye Aye Thant to continue the vision and honor the accomplishments of her father, Maha Thray Sithu U Thant, Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1961 to 1971.
U Thant’s leadership reflected his vision of mankind “unified in peace under a just world order.” Emphasizing this theme in his message to guests at the inauguration ceremony, the seventh Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, hailed his predecessor for his “contributions, among others, to development, poverty alleviation, education, environmental protection and health." U Thant, he said, was “ahead of his time in many ways in launching the first Earth Summit, which would lead to the establishment of the UN Environmental Programme, the development of the UN Population Fund and laying the groundwork for the foundation of the UN University.”
Speakers at the inauguration recalled that during U Thant’s tenure as Secretary-General, the international conflicts of the era such as the Congolese Civil War, the Vietnam War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Indo-Pakistan War, the Dominican Crisis, the Invasion of Czechoslovakia and the Middle East Crisis, were all handled with his legendary courage, customary decency and profound sense of responsibility.
Commenting further, Sir Brian Urquhart, former Under-Secretary-General, praised U Thant for his diplomatic skills in building peace around the world and using his good offices to foster reconciliation and mediation.