211. Editorial Note

On September 1, 1966, Secretary-General U Thant announced that he did not intend to seek a second term. He later agreed to serve until the end of the current session of the General Assembly. On December 2, however, he agreed to accept a second term after having been re-elected unanimously by the Security Council and the General Assembly. (Andrew W. Cordier and Max Harrelson (eds.), Public Papers of the Secretaries-General of the United Nations, Volume VII: U Thant, 1965–1967 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1977), pages 286–310)

During a press conference on January 18, 1971, Thant announced that he had “no intention whatsoever of serving beyond the present term.” He had not changed his opinion that a Secretary-General should not serve for more than one term. When he had agreed to serve a second term in 1966, he had already decided that it would be his last term. (Ibid., Volume VIII: U Thant, 1968–1971, page 540)

Even before this date, the U.S. Mission observed that other countries were showing an interest in who might succeed U Thant. On July 8, 1970, U.S. Representative Charles W. Yost reported that Panamanian Representative Aquilino Boyd, Chairman of the Latin American Group at the UN, was seeking support for a Latin American candidate; Mexican Representative Francisco Cuevas Cancino was a possibility. On July 17 the Department advised Yost not to become involved in the succession question. (Telegram 1423 from USUN, July 8, 1970, and telegram 114488 to USUN, July 17, 1970; both in National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 298, Agency Files, USUN, Vol. IV)