General Carlos P. Romulo – ‘Mr United Nations’

This month of October as the world observes the day (October 24) on which the foundational treaty of the Charter of the United Nations became in force, Philippine Studies pays tribute to a great Filipino.

That Filipino is General Carlos P. Romulo (14 January 1899, Camiling, Tarlac, Philippines – 15 December 1985, Manila, Philippines) – diplomat, politician, soldier, journalist, educator, and author.

Below is an extract from Wikipedia about the man who helped shape the future of the United Nations.

In his career in the United Nations, Rómulo was a strong advocate of human rights, freedom and decolonization.

During the selection of the UN’s official seal, he looked over the seal-to-be and asked, “Where is the Philippines?” US Senator Warren Austin, head of the selection committee, explained, “It’s too small to include. If we put the Philippines, it would be no more than a dot.” “I want that dot!” insisted Romulo.

Today, a tiny dot between the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea can be found on the UN seal.

In 1948 in Paris, France, at the third UN General Assembly, he strongly disagreed with a proposal made by the Soviet delegation headed by Andrei Vishinsky, who challenged his credentials by insulting him with this quote: “You are just a little man from a little country.” In return, Romulo replied, “It is the duty of the little Davids of this world to fling the pebbles of truth in the eyes of the blustering Goliaths and force them to behave!”, leaving Vishinsky with nothing left to do but sit down.

President of the UN General Assembly

He served as the President of the Fourth Session of United Nations General Assembly from 1949–1950, and chairman of the United Nations Security Council.

He had served with General Douglas MacArthur in the Pacific, was Ambassador to the United States, and became the first non-American to win the Pulitzer Prize in Correspondence in 1942.

The Pulitzer Prize website says Carlos P. Romulo of Philippine Herald was awarded “For his observations and forecasts of Far Eastern developments during a tour of the trouble centers from Hong Kong to Batavia.” He was a candidate for the position of United Nations Secretary-General in 1953, but did not win.

Rómulo served eight Philippine presidents, from Manuel L. Quezon to Ferdinand Marcos, as the Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines and as the country’s representative to the United States and to the United Nations. He also served as the Resident Commissioner to the U.S. House of Representatives during the Commonwealth era.

General Romulo died, at 86, in Manila on 15 December 1985 and was buried in the Heroes’ Cemetery (Libingan ng mga Bayani). He was honored as the Philippines’ greatest diplomat in the 20th Century.

In 1980, he was extolled by United Nations Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim as “Mr. United Nations” for his valuable services to the United Nations and his dedication to freedom and world peace.

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