Mongi Slim (Arabic: منجي سليم, Turkish: Mengi Selim) (September 1, 1908 – October 23, 1969)[1] was a Tunisian diplomat who became the first African to become the President of the United Nations General Assembly in 1961. He received a degree from the faculty of law of the University of Paris. He was twice imprisoned by the French during the Tunisian struggle for independence.[2]

Mongi Slim
Mongi Slim.jpg
23rd President of the United Nations General Assembly
In office
Preceded byFrederick Henry Boland
Succeeded byMuhammad Zafrulla Khan
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Tunisia
In office
Preceded bySadok Mokadem
Succeeded byHabib Bourguiba Jr.
Personal details
Born(1908-09-01)September 1, 1908
Tunis, Tunisia
DiedOctober 23, 1969(1969-10-23) (aged 61)
Tunis, Tunisia
Political partyNeo Destour

Early yearsEdit

Born on September 15, 1908, in Tunis, Slim came from an aristocratic family of Greek and Turkish origin.[3] His mother was a member of the Beyrum family, a noble Turkish family which had risen to prominence in Tunis, and was famous throughout the Arab world for its learnedness in Islamic law. One of Slim's great-grandfathers, a Greek named Kafkalas, was captured as a boy by pirates, and sold to the Bey of Tunis, who educated and freed him and then made him his minister of defense. His paternal grandfather was an aristocratic Caid who ruled the wealthy province of Cape Bon.[4]

Political careerEdit

In 1936, Slim became involved in organizations advocating Tunisia's independence from France. In 1954, he became the chief Tunisian negotiator in discussions with France on independence. In this position, he helped draft protocols which secured Tunisia's independence in 1956. Slim served as an interior minister of Tunisia from 1955 to 1956.

In 1956 he became Tunisia's ambassador to the United States, Canada and the United Nations.[5] He became involved in a special United Nations Committee on the problem of Hungary and served as a delegate to the United Nations Security Council. He relinquished his posts as ambassador to the United States and Canada in 1961 when he was unanimously elected president of the United Nations General Assembly[6] after a plane crash that killed U.N. Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld. Slim made the cover of Time magazine in September 1961.[7] The United States came up with a plan to have Slim carry out the duties of Secretary-General while delegating his own duties to a Vice-President of the General Assembly.[8] However, the Soviet Union favored U Thant of Burma and secured U.S. agreement to appoint Thant acting Secretary-General for the remainder of Hammarskjöld's term.

Slim left the United Nations in 1962 and became Minister of Foreign Affairs of Tunisia. He served in that position until 1964.[9]


  1. ^ "Mongi Slim, 61, Top Diplomat, Dies In Tunis". Chicago Tribune. 24 October 1969.
  2. ^ St. Petersburg Times - September 19 1961
  3. ^ Bidwell, Robin Leonard (1998). Dictionary Of Modern Arab Histor. Routledge (published 2010). p. 388. ISBN 978-0-7103-0505-3. SLIM, Mongi (1908–69): Tunisian nationalist leader and Minister. He came from an aristocratic family of Graeco-Turkish origin and started studying mathematics at the Sorbonne.
  4. ^ "World: REBEL PARLIAMENTARIAN POLITICO". Time. 1961-09-29. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved 2020-08-16.
  5. ^ Ottawa Citizen - October 24 1969
  6. ^ Mongi Slim (Tunisia) Elected President of the sixteenth session of the general assembly Archived 2011-07-15 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "TIME Magazine Cover: Mongi Slim - September 29, 1961". Time. Archived from the original on September 3, 2010.
  8. ^ Claussen, Paul; Duncan, Evan M.; Soukup, Jeffrey A., eds. (2001). "Document 182: Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs (Cleveland) to Acting Secretary of State Bowles, September 18, 1961". Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961–1963. Volume XXV. Washington: United States Government Printing Office. |volume= has extra text (help)
  9. ^ "Political Leaders: Tunisia - Ministers of Foreign Affairs".
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by President of the United Nations General Assembly
Succeeded by