United Nations History/Gladwyn Jebb

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Gladwyn Jebb


Hubert Miles Gladwyn Jebb, 1st Baron Gladwyn, GCMG, GCVO, CB, known as Gladwyn Jebb (April 25, 1900 – October 24, 1996), was a prominent British civil servant, diplomat and politician as well as the first Acting Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Diplomatic Service


Entering the Diplomatic Service, in 1924, Jebb's career included: served in Tehran [Iran], Rome [Italy], and the Foreign Office; Private Secretary to Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, 1929-31; Private Secretary to Permanent Under-Secretary of State, 1937-40; appointed to Ministry of Economic Warfare with temporary rank of Assistant Under-Secretary, August 1940; Acting Counsellor in Foreign Office, 1941; Head of Reconstruction Department, 1942; Counsellor, 1943, in that capacity attended the Conferences of Quebec [Canada], Cairo [Egypt], Tehran, Dumbarton Oaks [United States], Yalta [Soviet Union], San Francisco and Potsdam [Germany]; Executive Secretary of Preparatory Commission of the United Nations (August 1945) with temp. rank of Minister; Acting Secretary-General of UN, February 1946; Deputy to Foreign Secretary on Conference of Foreign Ministers, March 1946; Assistant Under-Secretary of State and United Nations Adviser, 1946-47; UK representative on Brussels Treaty Permanent Commission with personal rank of Ambassador, April 1948; Deputy Under-Secretary, 1949-50; Permanent Representative of the UK to the United Nations, 1950-54; British Ambassador to France, 1954-60, retired; Deputy Leader of Liberal Party in House of Lords, and Liberal Spokesman on foreign affairs and defence, 1965-88; Member, European Parliament, 1973-76 (Vice President, Political Committee); contested (L) Suffolk, European Parliament, 1979.

Association with Churchill


Gladwyn Jebb was at Munich with Chamberlain, at Yalta and Potsdam with Churchill. His contribution to the establishment of the United Nations and NATO was sufficient on its own to have made him a major figure of the twentieth century. He was Britain's representative at the UN during the Korean War, our ambassador in Paris during the Suez crisis and he played a crucial part in Britain's first attempt to join the Common Market, famously vetoed by de Gaulle.

Establishing the UN


The first meetings of the United Nations were held in London, before its move to New York. The first session of the General Assembly was held in Central Hall Westminster on 10 January 1946. With British diplomat Gladwyn Jebb (later Lord Gladwyn) acting as Secretary-General the United Nations was duly inaugurated, and the first General Assembly President and Secretary-General elected. One week later the Security Council met for the first time, in Church House, Westminster, with the Soviet presence in Iran immediately on the agenda. In 1947 two dedicated divisions were set up within the Foreign Office to handle United Nations issues, covering political and economic aspects respectively.