Global Policy Forum

Secretary General Kurt Waldheim's Reform Agenda - 1972 to 1981


Picture Credit:
United Nation

On the recommendation of the Security Council, the General Assembly elected Kurt Waldheim to succeed U Thant as Secretary General in December 1971. During his first five-year term, Waldheim arranged discussions in Cyprus between government leaders from Greece and Turkey, and he initiated talks that brought an end to the Israel-Arab war in 1973. With his neutral diplomacy, Waldheim gained the support of both the Soviet Union and the US. In 1976, Palestinian militants hijacked an airplane leaving Tel Aviv, resulting in a hostage crisis at the airport in Kampala, Uganda. Waldheim called the Israeli Defense Forces' rescue mission a "serious violation of the national sovereignty," and both the United States and Israel criticized him for his position. In his second five-year period as Secretary General, Waldheim had to deal with several international crises, such as the war in Afghanistan, the conflict between Iran and Iraq and Israel's occupation of southern Lebanon. In 1981, Waldheim sought an unprecedented third term as Secretary General with the support of both the US and the Soviet Union. However, China vetoed his reelection. After Waldheim stepped down, his reputation was tarnished by reports that he had been an officer in the Balkans during the Nazi occupation.


Kurt Waldheim, Former UN Chief, Is Dead at 88 (June 15, 2007)

As UN Secretary General from 1972 to 1982, Kurt Waldheim concealed the incriminating parts of his military career. But a few years later when Waldheim was running for president of Austria, documents emerged which proved both his involvement with the Nazi movement and his role as a lieutenant in an army unit responsible for the execution of thousands of Yugoslavs. Waldheim, who passed away in 2007, always denied his guilt, arguing that he was "an ordinary citizen who had been caught up in a maelstrom." (New York Times)



FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Global Policy Forum distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.