Bunche, Ralph Johnson

Bunche, Ralph Johnson bŭnch [key], 1904–71, U.S. government official and UN diplomat, b. Detroit, Ph.D., Harvard, 1934. He taught political science at Howard Univ. (1928–40). In government service after 1941, he worked under the joint chiefs of staff and was a chief research analyst in the Office of Strategic Services. The first African American to be a division head in the Dept. of State (1945), he entered the United Nations in 1946 as director of the Trusteeship Division. He became (Dec., 1947) principal secretary of the UN Palestine Commission and was awarded the 1950 Nobel Peace Prize for mediating the 1948 Arab-Israeli truce. He served as UN undersecretary general for special political affairs (1955–67) and undersecretary general from 1967 until his retirement due to poor health shortly before his death.

See study by P. Mann (1975); biography by B. Jakouvek (1989). See also E. J. Keller and R. A. Hill, eds., Trustee for the Human Community: Ralph J. Bunche, the United Nations, and the Decolonization of Africa (2010).

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