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Thant Myint-U

  • Non-Resident Fellow

Thant Myint-U is a writer, historian, conservationist, and international public servant.

He is currently a Visiting Fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge, the Chairman of U Thant House, a leading education and discussion centre in Yangon, Founder and Chairman of the Yangon Heritage Trust, and a Founding Partner of the Ava Advisory Group. He is also an Affiliated Scholar of the Centre for South Asian Studies at Cambridge University. Previous fellowship affiliations include Harvard, the International Peace Institute, and the Institute for Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore.

Previously he has served on three United Nations peacekeeping operations, in Cambodia (United Nations Transition Authority in Cambodia 1992-3) and in the former Yugoslavia (United Nations Protection Force 1994-5 and United Nations Mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina 1996), including as the UN’s spokesman in Sarajevo during the Bosnian War. He has also worked for the UN Secretariat in New York, from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the Department of Political Affairs and the Executive Office of the Secretary-General, to being the Chief of the Policy Planning Unit in the Department of Political Affairs and as the Senior Officer attached to the Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges, and Change.

In 2012, Thant Myint-U was appointed a member of the President of Myanmar’s National Economic and Social Advisory Council and a special advisor at the Myanmar Peace Center, the body responsible for the 2011-2015 peace process and the 2015 Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement. He was also a senior advisor to the Beyond Ceasefires Initiative, a joint programme between the government and Ethnic Armed Organizations designed to bring external experiences in support of domestic peace negotiations. During this time he also established the Yangon Heritage Trust to protect the city’s architectural heritage and encourage new ideas in urban planning.

Thant Myint-U is the author of four books: The Making of Modern Burma (2000), the River of Lost Footsteps: A Personal History of Burma (2006), Where China Meets India: Burma and the New Crossroads of Asia (2011 and short-listed for the Asia Society’s Bernard Schwartz Prize), and The Hidden History of Burma: Race, Capitalism, and the Crisis of Democracy in the 21st Century (2019). He has also been published in renown publications such as the New York Times, the Financial Times, the London Review of Books, the Nikkei Asian Review, among others.

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