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Paul-Henri Spaak (Belgium)

Elected President of the first session of the General Assembly

Photo of Paul-Henri Spaak

Mr. Paul-Henri Spaak, Foreign Minister of Belgium, was elected first President of the General Assembly of the United Nations on January 16, 1946 and held this office for one session. Head of the Belgian delegations to the San Francisco Conference and to the Preparatory Commission of the United Nations, he was elected Vice-Chairman of that Commission.

Mr. Spaak was born in Brussels in 1889. His mother was Belgium’s first woman senator and from her he inherited his interest in Socialism. During World War I he was captured by the Germans and imprisoned for two years. He qualified as a barrister, and later took an active part in politics. In 1932 was elected Socialist Deputy for Brussels.

He became Minister of Transportation, Posts and Telegraphs in 1935; Minister of Foreign Affairs in 1936 and served as Prime Minister from May 1938 to February 1939. At the outbreak of World War II he was again called on to become Foreign Minister.

After the German invasion of his country he was interned for a time in France and Spain, but later reached England and resumed his duties as Foreign Minister with the Belgian Government In London in October 1940. He has been Foreign Minister ever since. He represented his country at the Peace Conference in Paris.

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