2 March 1946

Ho Chi Minh is elected the President of North Vietnam.

Hồ Chí Minh
Ho Chi Minh 1946.jpg
Portrait of Hồ Chí Minh, c. 1947
Chairman of the Workers' Party of Vietnam
In office
19 February 1951 – 2 September 1969
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byPosition abolished
First Secretary of the Workers' Party of Vietnam
In office
1 November 1956 – 10 September 1960
Preceded byTrường Chinh
Succeeded byLê Duẩn
1st President of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam
In office
2 September 1945 – 2 September 1969
Preceded byPosition established
Bảo Đại (as Emperor)
Succeeded byTôn Đức Thắng
1st Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam
In office
2 September 1945 – 20 September 1955
Preceded byPosition established
Trần Trọng Kim (as Prime Minister of the Empire of Vietnam)
Succeeded byPhạm Văn Đồng
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
28 August 1945 – 2 March 1946
Preceded byTrần Văn Chương (Empire of Vietnam)
Succeeded byNguyễn Tường Tam
In office
3 November 1946 – March 1947
Preceded byNguyễn Tường Tam
Succeeded byHoàng Minh Giám
Member of the Politburo
In office
31 March 1935 – 2 September 1969
Personal details
Nguyễn Sinh Cung

(1890-05-19)19 May 1890
Kim Liên, Nghệ An Province, French Indochina
Died2 September 1969(1969-09-02) (aged 79)
Hanoi, North Vietnam
Cause of deathHeart failure
Resting placeHo Chi Minh Mausoleum
  • Vietnamese
Political partyFrench Section of the Workers' International
French Communist Party
Communist Party of Vietnam
Alma materCommunist University of the Toilers of the East
Vietnamese name
VietnameseHồ Chí Minh
Vietnamese birth name
VietnameseNguyễn Sinh Cung

Hồ Chí Minh (/h mɪn/;[1] Vietnamese: [hò cǐ mīŋ̟] (About this soundlisten), Saigon: [hò cǐ mɨ̄n]; Chữ nôm: 胡志明; 19 May 1890 – 2 September 1969), born Nguyễn Sinh Cung,[2][a][4] also known as Nguyễn Tất Thành, Nguyễn Ái Quốc, Bác Hồ, or simply Bác ('Uncle', pronounced [ʔɓaːk̚˦˥]), was a Vietnamese revolutionary and politician. He served as Prime Minister of Vietnam from 1945 to 1955 and President from 1945 to 1969. Ideologically a Marxist–Leninist, he served as Chairman and First Secretary of the Workers' Party of Vietnam.

Hồ Chí Minh led the Việt Minh independence movement from 1941 onward, establishing the Communist-ruled Democratic Republic of Vietnam in 1945 and defeating the French Union in 1954 at the Battle of Điện Biên Phủ, ending the First Indochina War. He was a key figure in the People's Army of Vietnam and the Việt Cộng during the Vietnam War, which lasted from 1955 to 1975. Democratic Republic of Vietnam was victorious against the United States and was reunified with the Republic of South Vietnam in 1976. Saigon, the former capital of South Vietnam, was renamed Ho Chi Minh City in his honor. Ho officially stepped down from power in 1965 due to health problems and died in 1969.

Hồ Chí Minh's life before he came to power in Vietnam is ambiguous. He is known to have used between 50[5]:582 to 200 pseudonyms.[6] His birth is subject to academic debate. At least four existing official biographies vary on names, dates, places and other hard facts while unofficial biographies vary even more widely.[7]

Aside from being a politician, Ho was also a writer, a poet and a journalist. He wrote several books, articles and poems in French, Chinese and Vietnamese.

Early life

Hồ Chí Minh was born as Nguyễn Sinh Cung[2][a][4] in 1890 in the village of Hoàng Trù (the name of the local temple near Làng Sen), his mother's village. Although 1890 is generally accepted as his birth year, at various times he used four other birth years:[8] 1891,[9] 1892,[10] 1894[11] and 1895.[12] From 1895, he grew up in his father Nguyễn Sinh Sắc (Nguyễn Sinh Huy)'s village of Làng Sen, Kim Liên, Nam Đàn, and Nghệ An Province. He had three siblings: his sister Bạch Liên (Nguyễn Thị Thanh), a clerk in the French Army; his brother Nguyễn Sinh Khiêm (Nguyễn Tất Đạt), a geomancer and traditional herbalist; and another brother (Nguyễn Sinh Nhuận), who died in infancy. As a young child, Cung (Ho) studied with his father before more formal classes with a scholar named Vuong Thuc Do. He quickly mastered Chinese writing, a prerequisite for any serious study of Confucianism, while honing his colloquial Vietnamese writing.[5]:21 In addition to his studies, he was fond of adventure and loved to fly kites and go fishing.[5]:21 Following Confucian tradition, his father gave him a new name at the age of 10: Nguyễn Tất Thành ("Nguyễn the Accomplished").

His father was a Confucian scholar and teacher and later an imperial magistrate in the small remote district of Binh Khe (Qui Nhơn). He was demoted for abuse of power after an influential local figure died several days after having received 102 strokes of the cane as punishment for an infraction.[5]:21 His father was eligible to serve in the imperial bureaucracy, but he refused because it meant serving the French.[13] This exposed Thành (Ho) to rebellion at a young age and seemed to be the norm for the province. Nevertheless, he received a French education, attending Collège Quốc học (lycée or secondary education) in Huế. His disciples, Phạm Văn Đồng and Võ Nguyên Giáp, also attended the school, as did Ngô Đình Diệm, the future President of South Vietnam (and political rival).[14]

First sojourn in France

Previously, it was believed that Thành (Ho) was involved in an anti-slavery (anti-corvée) demonstration of poor peasants in Huế in May 1908, which endangered his student status at Collège Quốc học. However, a document from the Centre des archives d'Outre-mer in France shows that he was admitted to Collège Quốc học on 8 August 1908, which was several months after the anti-corvée demonstration (9–13 April 1908).[a] The exaggeration of revolutionary credentials was common among Vietnamese Communist leaders, as shown in North Vietnamese President Tôn Đức Thắng's falsified participation in the 1919 Black Sea revolt.

Later in life, he claimed the 1908 revolt had been the moment when his revolutionary outlook emerged,[citation needed] but his application to the French Colonial Administrative School in 1911 undermines this version of events, in which he stated that he left school to go abroad. Because his father had been dismissed, he no longer had any hope for a governmental scholarship and went southward, taking a position at Dục Thanh school in Phan Thiết for about six months, then traveled to Saigon.[citation needed]

He worked as a kitchen helper on a French steamer, the Amiral de Latouche-Tréville, using the alias Văn Ba. The steamer departed on 5 June 1911 and arrived in Marseille, France on 5 July 1911. The ship then left for Le Havre and Dunkirk, returning to Marseille in mid-September. There, he applied for the French Colonial Administrative School, but his application was rejected. He instead decided to begin traveling the world by working on ships and visited many countries from 1911 to 1917.[citation needed]

In the United States

While working as the cook's helper on a ship in 1912, Thành (Ho) traveled to the United States. From 1912 to 1913, he may have lived in New York City (Harlem) and Boston, where he claimed to have worked as a baker at the Parker House Hotel. The only evidence that he was in the United States is a letter to French colonial administrators dated 15 December 1912 and postmarked New York City (he gave as his address Poste Restante in Le Havre and his occupation as a sailor)[15]:20 and a postcard to Phan Chu Trinh in Paris where he mentioned working at the Parker House Hotel. Inquiries to the Parker House management revealed no records of his ever having worked there.[5]:51 Among a series of menial jobs, he claimed to have worked for a wealthy family in Brooklyn between 1917 and 1918 and for General Motors as a line manager.[16]:46 It is believed that while in the United States he made contact with Korean nationalists, an experience that developed his political outlook. Sophie Quinn-Judge states that this is "in the realm of conjecture".[15]:20 He was also influenced by Pan-Africanist and Black nationalist Marcus Garvey during his stay and said he attended meetings of the Universal Negro Improvement Association.[17][18]

In Britain

Commemorative plaque in Haymarket in London

At various points between 1913 and 1919, Thành (Ho) claimed to have lived in West Ealing and later in Crouch End, Hornsey. He reportedly worked as either a chef or dish washer (reports vary) at the Drayton Court Hotel in West Ealing.[19] Claims that he trained as a pastry chef under Auguste Escoffier at the Carlton Hotel in Haymarket, Westminster are not supported by documentary evidence.[15]:25[20] The wall of New Zealand House, home of the New Zealand High Commission, which now stands on the site of the Carlton Hotel, displays a blue plaque. During 1913, Thành was also employed as a pastry chef on the Newhaven–Dieppe ferry route.[21]

Political education in France

Hồ Chí Minh, 1921

From 1919 to 1923, Thành (Ho) began to show an interest in politics while living in France, being influenced by his friend and Socialist Party of France comrade Marcel Cachin. Thành claimed to have arrived in Paris from London in 1917, but the French police only had documents recording his arrival in June 1919.[15] In Paris he joined the Groupe des Patriotes Annamites (The Group of Vietnamese Patriots) that included Phan Chu Trinh, Phan Văn Trường, Nguyễn Thế Truyền and Nguyễn An Ninh.[22] They had been publishing newspaper articles advocating for Vietnamese independence under the pseudonym Nguyễn Ái Quốc ("Nguyễn the Patriot") prior to Thành's arrival in Paris.[23] The group petitioned for recognition of the civil rights of the Vietnamese people in French Indochina to the Western powers at the Versailles peace talks, but they were ignored. Citing the principle of self-determination outlined prior to the peace accords, they requested the allied powers to end French colonial rule of Vietnam and ensure the formation of an independent government.

Prior to the conference, the group sent their letter to allied leaders, including Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau and President Woodrow Wilson. They were unable to obtain consideration at Versailles, but the episode would later help establish the future Hồ Chí Minh as the symbolic leader of the anti-colonial movement at home in Vietnam.[24] Since Thành was the public face behind the publication of the document (although it was written by Phan Văn Trường),[25] he soon became known as Nguyễn Ái Quốc and first used the name in September during an interview with a Chinese newspaper correspondent.[5]

Many authors have stated that 1919 was a lost "Wilsonian moment", where the future Hồ Chí Minh could have adopted a pro-American and less radical position if only President Wilson had received him. However, at the time of the Versailles Conference, Hồ Chí Minh was committed to a socialist program. While the conference was ongoing, Nguyễn Ái Quốc was already delivering speeches on the prospects of Bolshevism in Asia and was attempting to persuade French Socialists to join Lenin's Communist International.[26]

In December 1920, Quốc (Ho) became a representative to the Congress of Tours of the Socialist Party of France, voted for the Third International and was a founding member of the French Communist Party. Taking a position in the Colonial Committee of the party, he tried to draw his comrades' attention towards people in French colonies including Indochina, but his efforts were often unsuccessful. While living in Paris, he reportedly had a relationship with a dressmaker named Marie Brière. As discovered in 2018, Quốc also had relations with the members of Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea like Kim Kyu-sik while in Paris.[27]

During this period, he began to write journal articles and short stories as well as running his Vietnamese nationalist group. In May 1922, he wrote an article for a French magazine criticizing the use of English words by French sportswriters.[28]:21 The article implored Prime Minister Raymond Poincaré to outlaw such Franglais as le manager, le round and le knock-out. His articles and speeches caught the attention of Dmitry Manuilsky, who would soon sponsor his trip to the Soviet Union and under whose tutelage he would become a high-ranking member of the Soviet Comintern.[29]:23–24

In the Soviet Union and China

External video
Booknotes interview with William Duiker on Hồ Chí Minh: A Life, 12 November 2000, C-SPAN
A plaque in Compoint Lane, District 17, Paris indicates where Hồ Chí Minh lived from 1921 to 1923

In 1923, Quốc (Ho) left Paris for Moscow carrying a passport with the name Chen Vang, a Chinese merchant,[5]:86 where he was employed by the Comintern, studied at the Communist University of the Toilers of the East[5]:92[30] and participated in the Fifth Comintern Congress in June 1924 before arriving in Canton (present-day Guangzhou), China in November 1924 using the name Ly Thuy.

In 1925–1926, he organized "Youth Education Classes" and occasionally gave socialist lectures to Vietnamese revolutionary young people living in Canton at the Whampoa Military Academy. These young people would become the seeds of a new revolutionary, pro-communist movement in Vietnam several years later. According to William Duiker, he lived with a Chinese woman, Zeng Xueming (Tăng Tuyết Minh), whom he married on 18 October 1926.[28] When his comrades objected to the match, he told them: "I will get married despite your disapproval because I need a woman to teach me the language and keep house".[28] She was 21 and he was 36. They married in the same place where Zhou Enlai had married earlier and then lived in the residence of a Comintern agent, Mikhail Borodin.[28]

Hoàng Văn Chí argued that in June 1925 he betrayed Phan Bội Châu, the famous leader of a rival revolutionary faction and his father's old friend, to French Secret Service agents in Shanghai for 100,000 piastres.[31] A source states that he later claimed he did it because he expected Châu's trial to stir up anti-French sentiment and because he needed the money to establish a communist organization.[31] In Ho Chi Minh: A Life, William Duiker considered this hypothesis, but ultimately rejected it.[5]:126–128 Other sources claim that Nguyễn Thượng Huyện was responsible for Chau's capture. Chau, sentenced to lifetime house arrest, never denounced Quốc.

After Chiang Kai-shek's 1927 anti-Communist coup, Quốc (Ho) left Canton again in April 1927 and returned to Moscow, spending part of the summer of 1927 recuperating from tuberculosis in Crimea before returning to Paris once more in November. He then returned to Asia by way of Brussels, Berlin, Switzerland and Italy, where he sailed to Bangkok, Thailand, arriving in July 1928. "Although we have been separated for almost a year, our feelings for each other do not have to be said to be felt", he reassured Minh in an intercepted letter.[28] In this period, he served as a senior agent undertaking Comintern activities in Southeast Asia.

House on Memorium for Hồ Chí Minh in Ban Nachok, Nakhon Phanom, Thailand

Quốc (Ho) remained in Thailand, staying in the Thai village of Nachok[28]:44 and xiii until late 1929, when he moved on to India and then Shanghai. In Hong Kong in early 1930, he chaired a meeting with representatives from two Vietnamese Communist parties to merge them into a unified organization, the Communist Party of Vietnam. In June 1931, he was arrested. To reduce French pressure for extradition, he was reported as dead in 1932.[28]:57–58 The British quietly released him in January 1933. He moved to the Soviet Union and in Moscow studied and taught at the Lenin Institute.[32] In this period he reportedly lost his positions in the Comintern because of a concern that he had betrayed the organization. However, according to Ton That Thien's research, he was a member of the inner circle of the Comintern, a protégé of Dmitry Manuilsky and a member in good standing of the Comintern throughout the Great Purge.[29][33]

In 1938, Quốc (Ho) returned to China and served as an advisor to the Chinese Communist armed forces.[15] He was also the senior Comintern agent in charge of Asian affairs.[29]:39 He worked extensively in Chungking and traveled to Guiyang, Kunming and Guilin. He was using the name Hồ Quang during this period.

Independence movement

In 1941, Hồ Chí Minh returned to Vietnam to lead the Việt Minh independence movement. The Japanese occupation of Indochina that year, the first step toward invasion of the rest of Southeast Asia, created an opportunity for patriotic Vietnamese.[13] The so-called "men in black" were a 10,000 member guerrilla force that operated with the Việt Minh.[34] He oversaw many successful military actions against the Vichy France and Japanese occupation of Vietnam during World War II, supported closely yet clandestinely by the United States Office of Strategic Services and later against the French bid to reoccupy the country (1946–1954). He was jailed in China by Chiang Kai-shek's local authorities before being rescued by Chinese Communists.[28]:198 Following his release in 1943, he returned to Vietnam. It was during this time that he began regularly using the name Hồ Chí Minh, a Vietnamese name combining a common Vietnamese surname (Hồ, ) with a given name meaning "Bright spirit" or "Clear will" (from Sino-Vietnamese : Chí meaning "will" or "spirit" and Minh meaning "bright").[5]:248–49 His new name is a tribute to General Hou Zhiming (侯志明), Chief Commissar of the 4th Military Region of the National Revolutionary Army, who helped releasing him from KMT prison in 1943.

Hồ Chí Minh (third from left, standing) with the OSS in 1945

In April 1945, he met with the OSS agent Archimedes Patti and offered to provide intelligence to the allies provided that he could have "a line of communication" with the Allies.[35] The OSS agreed to this and later sent a military team of OSS members to train his men and Hồ Chí Minh himself was treated for malaria and dysentery by an OSS doctor.[36]

Following the August Revolution (1945) organized by the Việt Minh, Hồ Chí Minh became Chairman of the Provisional Government (Premier of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam) and issued a Proclamation of Independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.[37] Although he convinced Emperor Bảo Đại to abdicate, his government was not recognized by any country. He repeatedly petitioned President Harry S. Truman for support for Vietnamese independence,[38] citing the Atlantic Charter, but Truman never responded.[39]

In 1946, future Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and Hồ Chí Minh became acquainted when they stayed at the same hotel in Paris.[40][41] He offered Ben-Gurion a Jewish home-in-exile in Vietnam.[40][41] Ben-Gurion declined, telling him: "I am certain we shall be able to establish a Jewish Government in Palestine".[40][41]

In 1946, when he traveled outside of the country, his subordinates imprisoned 2,500 non-Communist nationalists and forced 6,000 others to flee.[42] Hundreds of political opponents were jailed or exiled in July 1946, notably members of the Nationalist Party of Vietnam and the Dai Viet National Party after a failed attempt to raise a coup against the Viet Minh government.[43] All rival political parties were hereafter banned and local governments were purged[44] to minimize opposition later on. However, it was noted that the Democratic Republic of Vietnam's first Congress had over two-thirds of its members come from non-Việt Minh political factions, some without an election. Nationalist Party of Vietnam leader Nguyễn Hải Thần was named vice president.[45] They also held four out of ten ministerial positions.[46]

Birth of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam

Following Emperor Bảo Đại's abdication on 2 September 1945, Hồ Chí Minh read the Declaration of Independence of Vietnam[47] under the name of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. In Saigon, with violence between rival Vietnamese factions and French forces increasing, the British commander, General Sir Douglas Gracey, declared martial law. On 24 September, the Việt Minh leaders responded with a call for a general strike.[48]

In September 1945, a force of 200,000 Republic of China Army troops arrived in Hanoi to accept the surrender of the Japanese occupiers in northern Indochina. Hồ Chí Minh made a compromise with their general, Lu Han, to dissolve the Communist Party and to hold an election which would yield a coalition government. When Chiang forced the French to give the French concessions in Shanghai back to China in exchange for withdrawing from northern Indochina, he had no choice but to sign an agreement with France on 6 March 1946 in which Vietnam would be recognized as an autonomous state in the Indochinese Federation and the French Union. The agreement soon broke down. The purpose of the agreement, for both the French and Vietminh, was for Chiang's army to leave North Vietnam. Fighting broke out in the North soon after the Chinese left.

Historian Professor Liam Kelley of the University of Hawaii at Manoa on his Le Minh Khai's SEAsian History Blog challenged the authenticity of the alleged quote where Hồ Chí Minh said he "would rather smell French shit for five years than eat Chinese shit for a thousand," noting that Stanley Karnow provided no source for the extended quote attributed to him in his 1983 Vietnam: A History and that the original quote was most likely forged by the Frenchman Paul Mus in his 1952 book Vietnam: Sociologie d'une Guerre. Mus was a supporter of French colonialism in Vietnam and Hồ Chí Minh believed there was no danger of Chinese troops staying in Vietnam (although this was the time when China invaded Tibet). The Vietnamese at the time were busy spreading anti-French propaganda as evidence of French atrocities in Vietnam emerged while Hồ Chí Minh showed no qualms about accepting Chinese aid after 1949.[49][50]

Hồ Chí Minh (right) with Võ Nguyên Giáp (left) in Hanoi, 1945

The Việt Minh then collaborated with French colonial forces to massacre supporters of the Vietnamese nationalist movements in 1945–1946,[51] and of the Trotskyists. Trotskyism in Vietnam did not rival the Party outside of the major cities, but particularly in the South, in Saigon-Cochinchina, they had been a challenge. From the outset, they had called for armed resistance to a French restoration and for an immediate transfer of industry to workers and land to peasants.[52][53] The French Socialist leader Daniel Guerin recalls that when in Paris in 1946 he asked Hồ Chí Minh about the fate of the Trotskyist leader Tạ Thu Thâu, Hồ Chí Minh had replied, "with unfeigned emotion," that "Thâu was a great patriot and we mourn him, but then a moment later added in a steady voice ‘All those who do not follow the line which I have laid down will be broken.’"[54]

The Communists eventually suppressed all non-Communist parties, but they failed to secure a peace deal with France. In the final days of 1946, after a year of diplomatic failure and many concessions in agreements, such as the Dalat and Fontainebleau conferences, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam government found that war was inevitable. The bombardment of Haiphong by French forces at Hanoi only strengthened the belief that France had no intention of allowing an autonomous, independent state in Vietnam. The bombardment of Haiphong reportedly killed more than 6000 Vietnamese civilians. French forces marched into Hanoi, now the capital city of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. On 19 December 1946, after the Haiphong incident, Ho Chi Minh declared war against the French Union, marking the beginning of the Indochina War.[55] The Vietnam National Army, mostly armed with machetes and muskets immediately attacked. They assaulted the French positions, smoking them out with straw bundled with chili pepper, destroying armored vehicles with "lunge mines" (a hollow-charge warhead on the end of a pole, detonated by thrusting the charge against the side of a tank; typically a suicide weapon)[56] and Molotov cocktails, holding off attackers by using roadblocks, landmines and gravel. After two months of fighting, the exhausted Việt Minh forces withdrew after systematically destroying any valuable infrastructure. Ho was reported to be captured by a group of French soldiers led by Jean-Étienne Valluy at Việt Bắc in Operation Lea. The person in question turned out to be a Việt Minh advisor who was killed trying to escape.

According to journalist Bernard Fall, Ho decided to negotiate a truce after fighting the French for several years. When the French negotiators arrived at the meeting site, they found a mud hut with a thatched roof. Inside they found a long table with chairs. In one corner of the room, a silver ice bucket contained ice and a bottle of good champagne, indicating that Ho expected the negotiations to succeed. One demand by the French was the return to French custody of a number of Japanese military officers (who had been helping the Vietnamese armed forces by training them in the use of weapons of Japanese origin) for them to stand trial for war crimes committed during World War II. Hồ Chí Minh replied that the Japanese officers were allies and friends whom he could not betray, therefore he walked out to seven more years of war.[57]

In February 1950, after the successful removal of the French border blockade,[58] he met with Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong in Moscow after the Soviet Union recognized his government. They all agreed that China would be responsible for backing the Việt Minh.[59] Mao Zedong's emissary to Moscow stated in August that China planned to train 60,000–70,000 Viet Minh in the near future.[60] The road to the outside world was open for Việt Minh forces to receive additional supplies which would allow them to escalate the fight against the French regime throughout Indochina. At the outset of the conflict, Ho reportedly told a French visitor: "You can kill ten of my men for every one I kill of yours. But even at those odds, you will lose and I will win".[61] In 1954, the First Indochina War came to an end after the decisive Battle of Dien Bien Phu, where more than 10,000 French soldiers surrendered to the Viet Minh. The subsequent Geneva Accords peace process partitioned North Vietnam at the 17th parallel.

Arthur Dommen estimates that the Việt Minh killed between 50,000 and 100,000 civilians during the war.[62] However, Smedberg estimates that there were less than 150,000 civilian casualties.[63] By comparison to Dommen's calculation, Benjamin Valentino estimates that the French were responsible for 60,000–250,000 civilian deaths.[64]

Becoming president

Effigies of Charles de Gaulle and Hồ Chí Minh are hanged by students during a demonstration in Saigon, July 1964, observing the tenth anniversary of the July 1954 Geneva Agreements

The 1954 Geneva Accords concluded between France and the Việt Minh, allowing the latter's forces to regroup in the North whilst anti-Communist groups settled in the South. His Democratic Republic of Vietnam relocated to Hanoi and became the government of North Vietnam, a Communist-led one-party state. Following the Geneva Accords, there was to be a 300-day period in which people could freely move between the two regions of Vietnam, later known as South Vietnam and North Vietnam. During the 300 days, Diệm and CIA adviser Colonel Edward Lansdale staged a campaign to convince people to move to South Vietnam. The campaign was particularly focused on Vietnam's Catholics, who were to provide Diệm's power base in his later years, with the use of the slogan "God has gone south". Between 800,000 and 1,000,000 people migrated to the South, mostly Catholics. At the start of 1955, French Indochina was dissolved, leaving Diệm in temporary control of the South.[65][66]

All the parties at Geneva called for reunification elections, but they could not agree on the details. Recently appointed Việt Minh acting foreign minister Pham Van Dong proposed elections under the supervision of "local commissions". The United States, with the support of Britain and the Associated States of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, suggested United Nations supervision. This plan was rejected by Soviet representative Vyacheslav Molotov, who argued for a commission composed of an equal number of communist and non-communist members, which could determine "important" issues only by unanimous agreement.[67]:89, 91, 97 The negotiators were unable to agree on a date for the elections for reunification. North Vietnam argued that the elections should be held within six months of the ceasefire while the Western allies sought to have no deadline. Molotov proposed June 1955, then later softened this to any time in 1955 and finally July 1956.[68]:610 The Diem government supported reunification elections, but only with effective international supervision, arguing that genuinely free elections were otherwise impossible in the totalitarian North.[67]:107 By the afternoon of 20 July, the remaining outstanding issues were resolved as the parties agreed that the partition line should be at the 17th parallel and the elections for a reunified government should be held in July 1956, two years after the ceasefire.[68]:604 The Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities in Vietnam was only signed by the French and Việt Minh military commands, with no participation or consultation of the State of Vietnam.[67]:97 Based on a proposal by Chinese delegation head Zhou Enlai, an International Control Commission (ICC) chaired by India, with Canada and Poland as members, was placed in charge of supervising the ceasefire.[68]:603[67]:90,97 Because issues were to be decided unanimously, Poland's presence in the ICC provided the Communists with effective veto power over supervision of the treaty.[67]:97–98 The unsigned Final Declaration of the Geneva Conference called for reunification elections, which the majority of delegates expected to be supervised by the ICC. The Việt Minh never accepted ICC authority over such elections, insisting that the ICC's "competence was to be limited to the supervision and control of the implementation of the Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities by both parties".[67]:99 Of the nine nations represented, only the United States and the State of Vietnam refused to accept the declaration. Undersecretary of state Walter Bedell Smith delivered a "unilateral declaration" of the United States position, reiterating: "We shall seek to achieve unity through free elections supervised by the United Nations to ensure that they are conducted fairly".[67]:95,99–100

Hồ Chí Minh with East German sailors in Stralsund harbor during his 1957 visit to East Germany
Hồ Chí Minh with members of the East German Young Pioneers near Berlin, 1957

Between 1953 and 1956, the North Vietnamese government instituted various agrarian reforms, including "rent reduction" and "land reform", which were accompanied by significant political repression. During the land reform, testimonies by North Vietnamese witnesses suggested a ratio of one execution for every 160 village residents, which if extrapolated would indicate a nationwide total of nearly 100,000 executions. Because the campaign was mainly concentrated in the Red River Delta area, a lower estimate of 50,000 executions was widely accepted by scholars at the time.[67]:143[69][70] However, declassified documents from the Vietnamese and Hungarian archives indicate that the number of executions was much lower than reported at the time, although it was likely greater than 13,500.[71][72][73]

The Vietnam War

As early as June 1956 the idea of overthrowing the South Vietnamese government was presented at a politburo meeting. In 1959, Hồ Chí Minh began urging the Politburo to send aid to the Việt Cộng in South Vietnam and a "people's war" on the South was approved at a session in January 1959 and this decision was confirmed by the Politburo in March.[74][75] North Vietnam invaded Laos in July 1959 aided by the Pathet Lao and used 30,000 men to build a network of supply and reinforcement routes running through Laos and Cambodia that became known as the Hồ Chí Minh trail.[76] It allowed the North to send manpower and material to the Việt Cộng with much less exposure to South Vietnamese forces, achieving a considerable advantage.[77] To counter the accusation that North Vietnam was violating the Geneva Accord, the independence of the Việt Cộng was stressed in Communist propaganda. North Vietnam created the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam in December 1960 as a "united front", or political branch of the Viet Cong intended to encourage the participation of non-Communists.[74][75]

At the end of 1959, conscious that the national election would never be held and that Diem intended to purge opposing forces (mostly ex Việt Minh) from the South Vietnamese society, Hồ Chí Minh informally chose Lê Duẩn to become the next party leader. This was interpreted by Western analysts as a loss of influence for Hồ, who was said to actually have preferred the more moderate Võ Nguyên Giáp for the position.[78] From 1959 onward, the elderly Ho became increasingly worried about the prospect of his death, and that year he wrote down his will.[79] Lê Duẩn was officially named party leader in 1960, leaving Hồ to function in a secondary role as head of state and member of the Politburo. He nevertheless maintained considerable influence in the government. Lê Duẩn, Tố Hữu, Trường Chinh and Phạm Văn Đồng often shared dinner with Hồ, and all of them remained key figures throughout and after the war. In the early 1960s, the North Vietnamese Politburo was divided the "North first" faction who favored focusing on the economic development of North Vietnam, and the "South first" faction, who favored a guerrilla war in South Vietnam to reunite Vietnam in the near future.[80]

Between 1961 and 1963, 40,000 Communist soldiers infiltrated into South Vietnam from the North.[74] In 1963, Hồ purportedly corresponded with South Vietnamese President Diem in hopes of achieving a negotiated peace.[81] During the so-called "Maneli Affair" of 1963, a French diplomatic initiative was launched with the aim of achieving a federation of the two Vietnams, which would be neutral in the Cold War.[82] The four principle diplomats involved in the "Maneli affair" were Ramchundur Goburdhun, the Indian Chief Commissioner of the ICC; Mieczysław Maneli, the Polish Commissioner to the ICC; Roger Lalouette, the French ambassador to South Vietnam; and Giovanni d'Orlandi, the Italian ambassador to South Vietnam.[82] Maneli reported that Ho was very interested in the signs of a split between President Diem and President Kennedy and that his attitude was: "Our real enemies are the Americans. Get rid them, and we can cope with Diem and Nhu afterward".[82]

At a meeting in Hanoi held in French, Ho told Goburdhun that Diem was "in his own way a patriot", noting that Diem had opposed French rule over Vietnam, and ended the meeting saying that the next time Goburdhun met Diem "shake hands with him for me".[83] The North Vietnamese Premier Phạm Văn Đồng, speaking on behalf of Ho, told Maneli he was interested in the peace plan, saying that just as long as the American advisers left South Vietnam "we can come to an agreement with any Vietnamese".[84] On 2 September 1963, Maneli met with Ngô Đình Nhu, the younger brother and right-hand man to Diem to discuss the French peace plan.[85] It remains unclear if the Ngo brothers were serious about the French peace plan or were merely using the possibility of accepting it to blackmail the United States into supporting them at a time when the Buddhist crisis had seriously strained relations between Saigon and Washington.[84] Supporting the latter theory is the fact that Nhu promptly leaked his meeting with Maneli to the American columnist Joseph Alsop, who publicized it in a column entitled "Very Ugly Stuff".[84] The mere possibility that the Ngo brothers might accept the peace plan helped persuade the Kennedy administration to support the coup against them.[84] On 1 November 1963, a coup overthrow Diem, who was killed the next day together with his brother.

Diem had followed a policy of "deconstructing the state" by creating a number of overlapping agencies and departments who were encouraged to feud with one another in order to disorganize the South Vietnamese state to such an extent that he hoped that it would make a coup against him impossible.[86] When Diem was overthrown and killed, without any kind of arbiter between the rival arms of the South Vietnamese state, South Vietnam promptly disintegrated.[87] The American Defense Secretary Robert McNamara reported after visiting South Vietnam in December 1963 that "there is no organized government worthy of the name" in Saigon.[88] At a meeting of the plenum of the Politburo in December 1963, Lê' Duẩn's "South first" faction triumphed with the Politburo passing a resolution calling for North Vietnam to complete the overthrow of the regime in Saigon as soon as possible while the members of the "North first" faction were dismissed.[89] As South Vietnam descended into chaos, whatever interest Ho might had in the French peace plan ended as it become clear it was possible for the Viet Cong to overthrow the government in Saigon. A CIA report from 1964 stated the factionalism in South Vietnam had reached "almost the point of anarchy" as various South Vietnamese leaders fought one another, making any sort of effort against the Viet Cong impossible, which was rapidly taking over much of the South Vietnamese countryside.[90]

As South Vietnam collapsed into factionalism and in-fighting while the Viet Cong continued to win the war, it became increasingly apparent to President Lyndon Johnson that only American military intervention could save South Vietnam.[91] Though Johnson did not wish to commit American forces until he had won the 1964 election, he decided to make his intentions clear to Hanoi. In June 1964, the "Seaborn Mission" began as J. Blair Seaborn, the Canadian commissioner to the ICC, arrived in Hanoi with a message from Johnson offering billions of American economic aid and diplomatic recognition in exchange for which North Vietnam would cease trying to overthrow the government of South Vietnam.[92] Seaborn also warned that North Vietnam would suffer the "greatest devastation" from American bombing, saying that Johnson was seriously considering a strategic bombing campaign against North Vietnam.[93] Little came of the back channel of the "Seaborn Mission" as the North Vietnamese distrusted Seaborn, who pointedly was never allowed to meet Ho.[94]

In late 1964, People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) combat troops were sent southwest into officially neutral Laos and Cambodia.[95] By March 1965, American combat troops began arriving in South Vietnam, first to protect the airbases around Chu Lai and Da Nang, later to take on most of the fight as "[m]ore and more American troops were put in to replace Saigon troops who could not, or would not, get involved in the fighting".[96] As fighting escalated, widespread aerial and artillery bombardment all over North Vietnam by the United States Air Force and Navy began with Operation Rolling Thunder. On 8-9 April 1965, Ho made a secret visit to Beijing to meet Mao Zedong.[97] It was agreed that no Chinese combat troops would enter North Vietnam unless the United States invaded North Vietnam, but that China would send support troops to North Vietnam to help maintain the infrastructure damaged by American bombing.[97] There was a deep distrust and fear of China within the North Vietnamese Politburo, and the suggestion that Chinese troops, even support troops, be allowed into North Vietnam, caused outrage in the Politburo.[98] Ho had to use all his moral authority to obtain the Politburo's approval.[98]

According to Chen Jian, during the mid-to-late 1960s, Lê Duẩn permitted 320,000 Chinese volunteers into North Vietnam to help build infrastructure for the country, thereby freeing a similar number of PAVN personnel to go south.[99] There are no sources from Vietnam, the United States, or the Soviet Union that confirm the number of Chinese troops stationed in North Vietnam. However, the Chinese government later admitted to sending 320,000 Chinese soldiers to Vietnam during the 1960s and spent over $20 billion to support Hanoi's regular North Vietnamese Army and Việt Cộng guerrilla units.[100]

To counter the American bombing, the entire population of North Vietnam was mobilized for the war effort with vast teams of women being used to repair the damage done by the bombers, often at a speed that astonished the Americans.[101] The bombing of North Vietnam proved to be the principle obstacle to opening peace talks as Ho repeatedly stated that no peace talks would be possible unless the United States unconditionally cease bombing North Vietnam.[102] Like many of the other leaders of the newly independent states of Asia and Africa, Ho was extremely sensitive about threats, whatever perceived or real, to his nation's independence and sovereignty.[102] Ho regarded the American bombing as a violation of North Vietnam's sovereignty, and he felt that to negotiate with the Americans reserving the right to bomb North Vietnam should he not behave as they wanted him to do, would diminish North Vietnam's independence.[102]

In March 1966, a Canadian diplomat, Chester Ronning, arrived in Hanoi with an offer to use his "good offices" to begin peace talks.[103] However, the Ronning mission foundered upon the bombing issue, as the North Vietnamese demanded an unconditional halt to the bombing, an undertaking that Johnson refused to give.[103] In June 1966, Janusz Lewandowski, the Polish Commissioner to the ICC, was able via d'Orlandi to see Henry Cabot Lodge Jr, the American ambassador to South Vietnam, with an offer from Ho.[103] Ho's offer for a "political compromise" as transmitted by Lewandowski included allowing South Vietnam to maintain its alliance with the U.S, instead of becoming neutral; having the Viet Cong "take part" in negotiations for a coalition government, instead being allowed to automatically enter a coalition government; and allowing a "reasonable calendar" for the withdrawal of American troops instead of an immediate withdrawal.[104] Operation Marigold as the Lewandowski channel came to be code-named almost led to American-North Vietnamese talks in Warsaw in December 1966, but collapsed over the bombing issue.[105]

In January 1967, General Nguyễn Chí Thanh, the commander of the forces in South Vietnam, returned to Hanoi, to present a plan that became the genesis of the Tet Offensive a year later.[106] Thanh expressed much concern about the Americans invading Laos to cut the Ho Chi Minh Trail, and to preempt this possibility, urged an all-out offensive to win the war with a sudden blow.[106] Lê' Duẩn supported Thanh's plans, which were stoutly opposed by the Defense Minister, General Võ Nguyên Giáp, who preferred to continue with a guerrilla war, arguing that the superior American firepower would ensure the failure of Thanh's proposed offensive.[107] With the Politburo divided, it was agreed to study and debate the issue more.[108]

In July 1967, Hồ Chí Minh and most of the Politburo of the Communist Party met in a high-profile conference where they concluded the war had fallen into a stalemate. The American military presence forced the PAVN to expend the majority of their resources on maintaining the Hồ Chí Minh trail rather than reinforcing their comrade's ranks in the South. Ho seems to have agreed to Thanh's offensive because he wanted to see Vietnam reunified within his lifetime, and the increasingly ailing Ho was painfully aware that he did not have much time left.[109] With Ho's permission, the Việt Cộng planned a massive Tet Offensive that would commence on 31 January 1968, with the aim of taking much of the South by force and dealing a heavy blow to the American military. The offensive was executed at great cost and with heavy casualties on Việt Cộng's political branches and armed forces. The scope of the action shocked the world, which until then had been assured that the Communists were "on the ropes". The optimistic spin that the American military command had sustained for years was no longer credible. The bombing of North Vietnam and the Hồ Chí Minh trail was halted, and American and Vietnamese negotiators held discussions on how the war might be ended. From then on, Hồ Chí Minh and his government's strategy, based on the idea of avoiding conventional warfare and facing the might of the United States Army, which would wear them down eventually while merely prolonging the conflict, would lead to eventual acceptance of Hanoi's terms materialized.

In early 1969, Ho suffered a heart attack and was in increasingly bad health for the rest of the year.[110] In July 1969, Jean Sainteny, a former French official in Vietnam who knew Ho secretly transmitted a letter to him from President Richard Nixon.[110] Nixon's letter proposed working together to end this "tragic war", but also warned that if North Vietnam made no concessions at the peace talks in Paris by 1 November, Nixon would resort to "measures of great consequence and force".[110] Ho's reply, which Nixon received on 30 August 1969 made no concessions, as Nixon's threats apparently made no impression on him.[110]

Personal life

Hồ Chí Minh holding his god-daughter, baby Elizabeth (Babette) Aubrac, with Elizabeth's mother, Lucie, 1946

In addition to being a politician, Hồ Chí Minh was also a writer, journalist, poet[111] and polyglot. His father was a scholar and teacher who received a high degree in the Nguyễn dynasty Imperial examination. Hồ was taught to master Classical Chinese at a young age. Before the August Revolution, he often wrote poetry in Chữ Hán (the Vietnamese name for the Chinese writing system). One of those is Poems from the Prison Diary, written when he was imprisoned by the police of the Republic of China. This poetry chronicle is Vietnam National Treasure No. 10 and was translated into many languages. It is used in Vietnamese high schools.[112] After Vietnam gained independence from France, the new government exclusively promoted Chữ Quốc Ngữ (Vietnamese writing system in Latin characters) to eliminate illiteracy. Hồ started to create more poems in the modern Vietnamese language for dissemination to a wider range of readers. From when he became president until the appearance of serious health problems, a short poem of his was regularly published in the newspaper Nhân Dân Tết (Lunar new year) edition to encourage his people in working, studying or fighting Americans in the new year.

Hồ Chí Minh watching a football game in his favorite fashion, with his closest comrade Prime Minister Phạm Văn Đồng seated to Ho's left (photo right)

Because he was in exile for nearly 30 years, Hồ could speak fluently as well as read and write professionally in French, English, Russian, Cantonese and Mandarin as well as his mother tongue Vietnamese.[5] In addition, he was reported to speak conversational Esperanto.[113] In the 1920s, he was bureau chief/editor of many newspapers which he established to criticize French Colonial Government of Indochina and serving communism propaganda purposes. Examples are Le Paria (The Pariah) first published in Paris 1922 or Thanh Nien (Youth) first published on 21 June 1925 (21 June was named by The Socialist Republic of Vietnam Government as Vietnam Revolutionary Journalism Day). In many state official visits to Soviet Union and China, he often talked directly to their communist leaders without interpreters especially about top secret information. While being interviewed by Western journalists, he used French.[citation needed] His Vietnamese had a strong accent from his birthplace in the central province of Nghệ An, but could be widely understood throughout the country.[b]

As President, he held formal receptions for foreign heads of state and ambassadors at the Presidential Palace, but he personally did not live there. He ordered the building of a stilt house at the back of the palace, which is today known as the Presidential Palace Historical Site. His hobbies (according to his secretary Vũ Kỳ) included reading, gardening, feeding fish (many of which are still[when?] living) and visiting schools and children's homes.[citation needed]

He is believed by some to have married Zeng Xueming, although only being able to live with her for less than a year.

Hồ Chí Minh remained in Hanoi during his final years, demanding the unconditional withdrawal of all non-Vietnamese troops in South Vietnam. By 1969, with negotiations still dragging on, his health began to deteriorate from multiple health problems, including diabetes which prevented him from participating in further active politics. However, he insisted that his forces in the South continue fighting until all of Vietnam was reunited regardless of the length of time that it might take, believing that time was on his side.[citation needed]


Stilt house of "Uncle Ho" in Hanoi

With the outcome of the Vietnam War still in question, Hồ Chí Minh died of heart failure at his home in Hanoi at 9:47 on the morning of 2 September 1969; he was 79 years old.[115] His embalmed body is currently on display in a mausoleum in Ba Đình Square in Hanoi despite his will which stated that he wanted to be cremated.[5]:565

The North Vietnamese government originally announced Ho's death as 3 September. A week of mourning for his death was decreed nationwide in North Vietnam from 4 to 11 September 1969.[116] His funeral was attended by about 250,000 people and 5,000 official guests, which included many international mourners.

Among the dignitaries to attend were :

Representatives from 40 countries and regions were also presented. During the mourning period, North Vietnam received more than 22,000 condolences letters from 20 organizations and 110 countries across the world, such as France, Ethiopia, Yugoslavia, Cuba, Zambia, and many others, mostly Socialist countries.

It was said that Ho's body was hid, and carried a long way among forests and rivers in a special-designed coffin until Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum was built.

He was not initially replaced as president; instead a "collective leadership" composed of several ministers and military leaders took over, known as the Politburo. During North Vietnam's final campaign, a famous song written by composer  [vi] was often sung by PAVN soldiers: "Bác vẫn cùng chúng cháu hành quân" ("You are still marching with us, Uncle Ho").[citation needed]

During the Fall of Saigon in April 1975, several PAVN tanks displayed a poster with those same words on it. The day after the battle ended, on 1 May, veteran Australian journalist Denis Warner reported that "When the North Vietnamese marched into Saigon yesterday, they were led by a man who wasn't there".[117]


Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Hanoi.

Ho Chi Minh remains one of the most divisive figures in modern contemporary history.

The Vietnamese Socialist Republic has sustained the personality cult of Uncle Ho (Bác Hồ), the Bringer of Light (Chí Minh). It is comparable in many ways to that of Mao Zedong in China and of Kim il-sung and Kim Jong-il in North Korea. There is the embalmed body on view in a massive mausoleum, the ubiquity of his image featured in every public building and schoolroom, and other displays of reverence, some unofficial, that verge on "worship".[118] (Ho Chi Minh's image appears on some family altars, and there is at least one temple dedicated to him, built in then-Việt-Cộng-controlled Vĩnh Long shortly after his death in 1970).[119]

Hồ Chí Minh statue and the Vietnamese flag
Hồ Chí Minh statue outside Hồ Chí Minh City Hall, Hồ Chí Minh City

In The Communist Road to Power in Vietnam (1982)[120] Duiker suggests that the cult of Ho Chi Minh is indicative of a larger legacy, one that drew on "elements traditional to the exercise of control and authority in Vietnamese society."[121] Duiker is drawn to an "irresistible and persuasive" comparison with China. As in China, leading party cadres were "most likely to be intellectuals descended [like Ho Chi Minh] from rural scholar-gentry families" in the interior (the protectorates of Annam and Tonkin). Conversely, the pioneers of constitutional nationalism tended to be from the more "Westernised" coastal south (Saigon and surrounding French direct-rule Cochinchina) and to be from "commercial families without a traditional Confucian background".[122]

Shrine devoted to Hồ Chí Minh

In Vietnam, as in China, Communism presented itself as a root and branch rejection of Confucianism, condemned for its ritualism, inherent conservatism and resistance to change. Once in power, the Vietnamese Communists may not have fought Confucianism "as bitterly as did their Chinese counterparts", but its social prestige was "essentially destroyed." In the political sphere, the puppet son of heaven (which had been weakly represented by the Bảo Đại) was replaced by the people's republic. Orthodox materialism accorded no place to heaven, gods, or other supernatural forces. Socialist collectivism undermined the tradition of the Confucian family leader (gia truong). The socialist conception of social equality destroyed the Confucian views of class.[123]

Temple devoted to Nguyễn Sinh Sắc, Hồ Chí Minh's father

Yet Duiker argues many were to find the new ideology "congenial" precisely because of its similarities with the teachings of the old Master: "the belief in one truth, embodied in quasi-sacred texts"; in "an anointed elite, trained in an all-embracing doctrine and responsible for leading the broad masses and indoctrinating them in proper thought and behavior"; in "the subordination of the individual to the community"; and in the perfectibility, through corrective action, of human nature.[124] All of this, Duiker suggests, was in some manner present in the aura of the new Master, Chi Minh, "the bringer of light," "Uncle Ho" to whom "all the desirable qualities of Confucian ethics" are ascribed.[125] Under Ho Chi Minh, Vietnamese Marxism developed, in effect, as a kind of "reformed Confucianism" revised to meet "the challenges of the modern era" and, not least among these, of "total mobilisation in the struggle for national independence and state power."[126]

This "congeniality" with Confucian tradition was remarked on by Nguyen Khac Vien, a leading Hanoi intellectual of the 1960 and 70s. In Confucianism and Marxism in Vietnam[127] Nguyen Khac Vien, saw definite parallels between Confucian and party discipline, between the traditional scholar gentry and Ho Chi Minh's party cadres.[128]

A completely different form of the cult of Hồ Chí Minh (and one tolerated by the government with some uneasiness) is his identification in Vietnamese folk religion with the Jade Emperor, who supposedly incarnated again on earth as Hồ Chí Minh. Today Hồ Chí Minh as the Jade Emperor is supposed to speak from the spirit world through Spiritualist mediums. The first such medium was one Madam Lang in the 1990s, but the cult acquired a significant number of followers through another medium, Madam Xoan. She established on 1 January 2001 Đạo Ngọc Phật Hồ Chí Minh (the Way of Hồ Chí Minh as the Jade Buddha) also known as Đạo Bác Hồ (the Way of Uncle Hồ) at đền Hòa Bình (the Peace Temple) in Chí Linh-Sao Đỏ district of Hải Dương province. She then founded the Peace Society of Heavenly Mediums (Đoàn đồng thiên Hòa Bình). Reportedly, by 2014 the movement had around 24,000 followers.[129]

Yet even when the Vietnamese government's attempt to immortalize Ho Chi Minh was also met with significant controversies and opposition. The regime is sensitive to anything that might question the official hagiography. This includes references to Ho Chi Minh's personal life that might detract from the image of the dedicated "the father of the revolution",[130] the "celibate married only to the cause of revolution".[131] William Duiker's Ho Chi Minh: A Life (2000) was candid on the matter of Ho Chi Minh's liaisons.[5]:605, fn 58 The government sought cuts in a Vietnamese translation[132] and banned distribution of an issue of the Far Eastern Economic Review which carried a small item about the controversy.[132]

There has been a number of criticisms against him, where his role on the land reforms had led to the death of more than 172,000 people.[133] A large number of Vietnamese, mostly from diaspora communities and those who still live in modern Southern Vietnam, which have strongly opposed the communist government, considered Ho Chi Minh as a leader who led Vietnam to suffer total destruction and a brutal campaign in terrors accordance to communist terrorism, including the instigation of Vietnam War that led to the complete destruction of Vietnamese nation.[134][135] These claims have received enormous support from the anti-communist and anti-totalitarian groups across the world, which saw Ho Chi Minh, using the mask of "liberation", initiated a complete cultural and human genocide inside the country.[136] These claims have been denied by the communist government.

Ho Chi Minh was listed as one of the war criminals in The Black Book of Communism, where he was accused of killing one million Vietnamese.[137]

International influence

Hồ Chí Minh bust in Kolkata, India
The Ho Chi Minh Monument in Moscow

Hồ Chí Minh is considered one of the most influential leaders in the world. Time magazine listed him in the list of 100 Most Important People of the Twentieth Century (Time 100) in 1998.[138][139] His thought and revolution inspired many leaders and people on a global scale in Asia, Africa and Latin America during the decolonization movement which occurred after World War II. As a communist, he was one of the international figures who were highly praised in the Communist world.[140]

Various places, boulevards and squares are named after him around the world, especially in Socialist states and former Communist states. In Russia, there is a Hồ Chí Minh square and monument in Moscow, Hồ Chí Minh boulevard in Saint Petersburg and Hồ Chí Minh square in Ulyanovsk (the birthplace of Vladimir Lenin, a sister city of Vinh, the birthplace of Hồ Chí Minh). During the Vietnam War the then West Bengal government, in the hands of CPI(M), renamed Harrington Street to Ho Chi Minh Sarani, which is also the location of the Consulate General of the United States of America in Kolkata.[141] According to the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as many as 20 countries across Asia, Europe, America and Africa have erected statues in remembrance of President Hồ Chí Minh.[142]

Busts, statues and memorial plaques and exhibitions are displayed in destinations on his extensive world journey in exile from 1911 to 1941 including France, Great Britain, Russia, China and Thailand.[143]

Many activists and musicians wrote songs about Hồ Chí Minh and his revolution in different languages during the Vietnam War to demonstrate against the United States. Spanish songs were composed by Félix Pita Rodríguez, Carlos Puebla and Alí Primera. In addition, the Chilean folk singer Víctor Jara referenced Hồ Chí Minh in his anti-war song "El derecho de vivir en paz" ("The Right to Live in Peace"). In English, Ewan MacColl wrote "The Ballad of Hồ Chí Minh" and Pete Seeger wrote "Teacher Uncle Ho". Russian songs about him were written by Vladimir Fere and German songs about him were written by Kurt Demmler.

In 1987, UNESCO officially recommended that its member states "join in the commemoration of the centenary of the birth of President Hồ Chí Minh by organizing various events as a tribute to his memory", considering "the important and many-sided contributions of President Hồ Chí Minh to the fields of culture, education and the arts" who "devoted his whole life to the national liberation of the Vietnamese people, contributing to the common struggle of peoples for peace, national independence, democracy and social progress".[144]


  1. ^ a b c His birth name appeared in a letter from the director of Collège Quốc học, dated 7 August 1908.[3]
  2. ^ He sometimes went on-air to deliver important political messages and encourage soldiers.[114]


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  27. ^ "호찌민 감시 佛 경찰문건 대거발굴…한국 임시정부 활약상 생생". 15 December 2018. Archived from the original on 15 December 2018.
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  30. ^ "The Learning Network" – via NYTimes.com.
  31. ^ a b Davidson, Phillip B., Vietnam at War: The History: 1946–1975 (1991), p. 4.
    Hoàng Văn Chí. From Colonialism to Communism (1964), p. 18.
  32. ^ "Ho Chi Minh". u-s-history.com. Archived from the original on 13 February 2018. Retrieved 25 July 2014.
  33. ^ Hong Ha (2010). Bác Hồ Trên Đất Nước Lê-Nin. Nhà Xuất Bản Thanh Niên.
  34. ^ "Ho Chi Minh Was Noted for Success in Blending Nationalism and Communism", The New York Times
  35. ^ Interview with Archimedes L. A. Patti, 1981, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/vietnam-bf3262-interview-with-archimedes-l-a-patti-1981
  36. ^ Interview with OSS officer Carleton Swift, 1981, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/vietnam-9dc948-interview-with-carleton-swift
  37. ^ Zinn, Howard (1995). A People's History of the United States: 1492–present. New York: Harper Perennial. p. 460. ISBN 978-0-06-092643-4.
  38. ^ "Collection of Letters by Ho Chi Minh". Rationalrevolution.net. Retrieved 26 September 2009.
  39. ^ Zinn, Howard (1995). A People's History of the United States. New York: Harper Perennial. p. 461. ISBN 978-0-06-092643-4.
  40. ^ a b c "Ben-gurion Reveals Suggestion of North Vietnam's Communist Leader". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 8 November 1966. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  41. ^ a b c "ISRAEL WAS EVERYTHING". The New York Times. 21 June 1987. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  42. ^ Currey, Cecil B. Victory At Any Cost (Washington: Brassey's, 1997), p. 126
  43. ^ Tucker, Spencer. Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War: a political, social, and military history (vol. 2), 1998
  44. ^ Colvin, John. Giap: the Volcano under the Snow (New York: Soho Press, 1996), p. 51
  45. ^ Vietnamese Wikipedia profile of Nguyễn Hải Thần
  46. ^ vi:Chính phủ Liên hiệp Kháng chiến Việt Nam
  47. ^ "Vietnam Declaration of Independence". Coombs.anu.edu.au. 2 September 1945. Archived from the original on 6 October 2009. Retrieved 26 September 2009.
  48. ^ Karnow, Stanley. Vietnam: a History.
  49. ^ "Liam Kelley | Department of History". 14 October 2014. Archived from the original on 14 October 2014.
  50. ^ "Chiang Kai-shek and Vietnam in 1945". 25 April 2013. Archived from the original on 13 March 2016. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
  51. ^ Turner, Robert F. (1975). Vietnamese Communism: Its Origins and Development. Hoover Institution Press. pp. 57–9, 67–9, 74. and "Myths of the Vietnam War". Southeast Asian Perspectives. September 1972. pp. 14–8.; also Dommen, Arthur J. (2001). The Indochinese Experience of the French and the Americans. Indiana University Press. pp. 153–4.
  52. ^ Daniel Hemery (1975) Revolutionnaires Vietnamiens et pouvoir colonial en Indochine. François Maspero, Paris. 1975
  53. ^ Ngo Van (2000) Viet-nam 1920–1945: Révolution et contre-révolution sous la domination coloniale, Paris: Nautilus Editions
  54. ^ Daniel Guerin (1954) Aux services des colonises, 1930–1953, Editions Minuit, Paris, p. 22
  55. ^ vi:Lời kêu gọi toàn quốc kháng chiến
  56. ^ "Lone Sentry: New Weapons for Jap Tank Hunters (U.S. WWII Intelligence Bulletin, March 1945)". lonesentry.com. Retrieved 27 May 2016.
  57. ^ Fall, Bernard. Last reflections on a War, p. 88. New York: Doubleday (1967).
  58. ^ vi:Chiến dịch Biên giới
  59. ^ Luo, Guibo. pp. 233–36
  60. ^ Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, "Chronology", p. 45.
  61. ^ McMaster, H.R. (1997) "Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, The Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies that Led to Vietnam", pg. 35.
  62. ^ Dommen, Arthur J. (2001), The Indochinese Experience of the French and the Americans, Indiana University Press, pg. 252.
  63. ^ Smedberg, M (2008), Vietnamkrigen: 1880–1980. Historiska Media, p. 88
  64. ^ Valentino, Benjamin (2005). Final Solutions: Mass Killing and Genocide in the 20th Century. Cornell University Press. p. 83. ISBN 9780801472732.
  65. ^ Maclear, pp. 65–68.
  66. ^ Jacobs, pp. 43–53.
  67. ^ a b c d e f g h Turner, Robert F. (1975). Vietnamese Communism: Its Origin and Development. Hoover Institution Press.:75
  68. ^ a b c Logevall, Fredrik (2012). Embers of War: The fall of an Empire and the making of America's Vietnam. Random House. ISBN 978-0-679-64519-1.
  69. ^ cf. Gittinger, J. Price, "Communist Land Policy in Viet Nam", Far Eastern Survey, Vol. 29, No. 8, 1957, p. 118.
  70. ^ Dommen, Arthur J. (2001), The Indochinese Experience of the French and the Americans, Indiana University Press, p. 340, gives a lower estimate of 32,000 executions.
  71. ^ Tuong Vu (25 May 2007). "Newly released documents on the land reform" (Mailing list). Vietnam Studies Group. Retrieved 30 November 2017. There is no reason to expect, and no evidence that I have seen to demonstrate, that the actual executions were less than planned; in fact the executions perhaps exceeded the plan if we consider two following factors. First, this decree was issued in 1953 for the rent and interest reduction campaign that preceded the far more radical land redistribution and party rectification campaigns (or waves) that followed during 1954–1956. Second, the decree was meant to apply to free areas (under the control of the Viet Minh government), not to the areas under French control that would be liberated in 1954–1955 and that would experience a far more violent struggle. Thus the number of 13,500 executed people seems to be a low-end estimate of the real number. This is corroborated by Edwin Moise in his recent paper "Land Reform in North Vietnam, 1953–1956" presented at the 18th Annual Conference on SE Asian Studies, Center for SE Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley (February 2001). In this paper, Moise (7–9) modified his earlier estimate in his 1983 book (which was 5,000) and accepted an estimate close to 15,000 executions. Moise made the case based on Hungarian reports provided by Balazs, but the document I cited above offers more direct evidence for his revised estimate. This document also suggests that the total number should be adjusted up some more, taking into consideration the later radical phase of the campaign, the unauthorized killings at the local level, and the suicides following arrest and torture (the central government bore less direct responsibility for these cases, however).
  72. ^ Szalontai, Balazs (November 2005). "Political and Economic Crisis in North Vietnam, 1955–56" (PDF). Cold War History. 5 (4): 395–426. doi:10.1080/14682740500284630. Retrieved 30 November 2017.
  73. ^ Vu, Tuong (2010). Paths to Development in Asia: South Korea, Vietnam, China, and Indonesia. Cambridge University Press. p. 103. ISBN 9781139489010. Clearly Vietnamese socialism followed a moderate path relative to China. [...] Yet the Vietnamese 'land reform' campaign ... testified that Vietnamese communists could be as radical and murderous as their comrades elsewhere.
  74. ^ a b c Ang, Cheng Guan (2002). The Vietnam War from the Other Side. RoutledgeCurzon. pp. 55–58, 76. ISBN 978-0-7007-1615-9.
  75. ^ a b "The History Place – Vietnam War 1945–1960". Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  76. ^ The Economist, 26 February 1983.
  77. ^ Lind, 1999
  78. ^ Cheng Guan Ang & Ann Cheng Guan, The Vietnam War from the Other Side, p. 21. (2002)
  79. ^ Langguth 2000, p. 550.
  80. ^ Nguyen 2012, p. 62.
  81. ^ Brocheux 2007, p. 174.
  82. ^ a b c Karnow 1983, p. 291.
  83. ^ Jacobs 2006, p. 165.
  84. ^ a b c d Karnow 1983, p. 292.
  85. ^ Langguth 2000, p. 233-234.
  86. ^ Shafer 1988, p. 255.
  87. ^ Shafer 1988, p. 271-273.
  88. ^ Shafer 1988, p. 271.
  89. ^ Gaiduk 2003, p. 203.
  90. ^ Shafer 1988, p. 272.
  91. ^ Karnow 1983, p. 340-342.
  92. ^ Karnow 1983, p. 348.
  93. ^ Hunt 1993, p. 15.
  94. ^ Langguth 2000, p. 290.
  95. ^ Davidson, Vietnam at War: the history, 1946–1975, 1988
  96. ^ "Vietnam Veterans Against the War: History of the U.S. War in Vietnam". vvaw.org.
  97. ^ a b Langguth 2000, p. 355.
  98. ^ a b Langguth 2000, p. 356.
  99. ^ Chen Jian. "China's Involvement in the Vietnam Conflict, 1964–69", China Quarterly, No. 142 (June 1995), pp. 366–69.
  100. ^ "CHINA ADMITS COMBAT IN VIETNAM WAR". Washington Post. Archived from the original on 6 November 2017. Retrieved 21 April 2018.
  101. ^ Karnow 1983, p. 456.
  102. ^ a b c Langguth 2000, p. 413.
  103. ^ a b c Karnow 1983, p. 492.
  104. ^ Karnow 1983, p. 492-493.
  105. ^ Karnow 1983, p. 493.
  106. ^ a b Langguth 2000, p. 439.
  107. ^ Langguth 2000, p. 439-440.
  108. ^ Langguth 2000, p. 440.
  109. ^ Karnow 1983, p. 535.
  110. ^ a b c d Karnow 1983, p. 597.
  111. ^ Minh, Ho Chi (7 May 1968). "Ho Chi Minh: From 'Prison Diary'" – via www.thenation.com.
  112. ^ Translated version:
  113. ^ Brown, Simon Leo (6 June 2014). "Esperanto the language of love". ABC. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
  114. ^ Marr, David, Vietnam: State, War, and Revolution (1945–1946), 2013, University of California Press [2]
  115. ^ "Ho Dead at 79, Hanoi Confirms— Heart Attack Fells Chief Of North Vietnam", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 4 September 1969, p1
  116. ^ "Ho Chi Minh dies of heart attack". The Globe and Mail. 4 September 1969. p. 1.
  117. ^ The Sun News-Pictorial, 1 May 1975, p. 1.
  118. ^ Marsh, Viv (6 June 2012). "Uncle Ho's legacy lives on in Vietnam". BBC News. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
  119. ^ "Đền Thờ Bác Hồ". SkyDoor.
  120. ^ Wiliam J. Duiker (1982), The Communist Road to Power in Vietnam, Westview Press, Boulder, Colorado.
  121. ^ Manfred McDowell, "Sky without Light: a Vietnamese Tragedy", New Politics, Vol XIII, No. 3, 2011, pp. 131-136, p. 133. https://newpol.org/review/sky-without-light-vietnamese-tragedy/
  122. ^ Duiker (1982), p. 25
  123. ^ Pham Duy Nghia (2005), "Confucianism and the conception of the law in Vietnam," Asian Socialism and Legal Change: The dynamics of Vietnamese and Chinese Reform, John Gillespie, Pip Nicholson eds., Australian National University Press, pp. 76-90, pp. 83-84
  124. ^ See also R. Peerenboom (2001).‘Globalization, path dependency and the limits of the law: administrative law reform and the rule of law in the PRC’, Berkeley Journal of International Law, 19(2):161–264.
  125. ^ Duiker (1982), pp. 26-28
  126. ^ McDowell, p. 133
  127. ^ Nguyen Khac Vien, 'Confucianism and Marxism in Vietnam' in Nguyen Khac Vien, Tradition and Revolution in Vietnam, Berkeley, the Indochina Resource Center, 1974
  128. ^ Stein Tonnesson, From Confucianism to Communism and Back: Vietnam 1925-1995, paper presented to the Norwegian Association of Development Studies, "State and Society in East Asia", 29 April - 2 May 1993.
  129. ^ Chung Van Hoang, New Religions and State’s Response to Religious Diversification in Contemporary Vietnam: Tensions from the Reinvention of the Sacred, Cham, Switzerland: Springer, 2017, 87–107.
  130. ^ Dinh, Thuy. "The Writer's Life Stephen B. Young and Hoa Pham Young: Painting in Lacquer". The Zenith by Duong Thu Huong. Da Mau magazine. Retrieved 25 December 2013.
  131. ^ Baker, Mark (15 August 2002). "Uncle Ho: a legend on the battlefield and in the boudoir". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 25 December 2013.
  132. ^ a b "Great 'Uncle Ho' may have been a mere mortal". The Age. 15 August 2002. Retrieved 2 August 2009.
  133. ^ https://www.rfa.org/english/news/vietnam_landreform-20060608.html
  134. ^ http://www.paulbogdanor.com/left/vietnam/hochiminh.html
  135. ^ https://blog.vvfh.org/2014/04/who-was-ho-chi-minh-a-deceitful-mass-murderer/
  136. ^ https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0265691405054216
  137. ^ https://www.amazon.com/Black-Book-Communism-Crimes-Repression/dp/0674076087
  138. ^ "TIME Magazine -- U.S. Edition -- April 13, 1998 Vol. 151 No. 14". content.time.com.
  139. ^ Karnow, Stanley (13 April 1998). "Ho Chi Minh" – via content.time.com.
  140. ^ "[Ho Chi Minh: A Life] | C-SPAN.org". www.c-span.org.
  141. ^ "LAYERS OF HISTORY - Most Indian street names honour little men for the wrong reasons". www.telegraphindia.com.
  142. ^ "Remembering Vietnam's late President Ho Chi Minh in foreign countries – Tuoi Tre News".
  143. ^ The places where President Ho Chi Minh lived and worked in Thailand, Vietnam Breaking News, 19 May 2017
  144. ^ "UNESCO. General Conference; 24th; Records of the General Conference, 24th session, Paris, 20 October to 20 November 1987, v. 1: Resolutions; 1988" (PDF). Retrieved 26 September 2009.

Further reading


  • Bernard B. Fall, ed., 1967. Ho Chi Minh on Revolution and War, Selected Writings 1920–1966. New American Library.


  • Morris, Virginia and Hills, Clive. 2018. Ho Chi Minh's Blueprint for Revolution: In the Words of Vietnamese Strategists and Operatives, McFarland & Co Inc.
  • William J. Duiker. 2000. Ho Chi Minh: A Life. Theia.
  • Jean Lacouture. 1968. Ho Chi Minh: A Political Biography. Random House.
  • Khắc Huyên. 1971. Vision Accomplished? The Enigma of Ho Chi Minh. The Macmillan Company.
  • David Halberstam. 1971. Ho. Rowman & Littlefield.
  • Hồ chí Minh toàn tập. NXB chính trị quốc gia
  • Sophie Quinn-Judge. 2003. Ho Chi Minh: The missing years. C. Hurst & Co. ISBN 1-85065-658-4
  • Tôn Thất Thiện, Was Ho Chi Minh a Nationalist? Ho Chi Minh and the Comintern Information and Resource Centre, Singapore, 1990

Việt Minh, NLF and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam

War in Vietnam

  • Frances FitzGerald. 1972. Fire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam. Little, Brown and Company.
  • David Hunt. 1993. The American War in Vietnam, SEAP Publications
  • Ilya Gaiduck 2003 Confronting Vietnam: Soviet Policy Toward the Indochina Conflict, 1954-1963, Stanford University Press
  • Seth Jacobs. 2006 Cold War Mandarin: Ngo Dinh Diem and the Origins of America's War in Vietnam, 1950–1963, Rowman & Littlefield.
  • Stanley Karnow. 1983. Vietnam: A History. Viking.
  • A.J. Langguth. 2000 Our Vietnam: The War 1954-1975. Simon and Schuster.
  • Nguyen Lien-Hang T. 2012 Hanoi's War: An International History of the War for Peace in Vietnam, University of North Carolina Press
  • Michael Shafer 1988. Deadly Paradigms: The Failure of U.S. Counterinsurgency Policy, Princeton University Press.

American foreign policy

See also

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Bảo Đại
as Emperor
President of North Vietnam
2 September 1945 – 2 September 1969
Succeeded by
Tôn Đức Thắng
Preceded by
Trần Trọng Kim
as Prime Minister of the Empire of Vietnam
Prime Minister of North Vietnam
2 September 1945 – 20 September 1955
Succeeded by
Phạm Văn Đồng
Party political offices
Preceded by
New title
Chairman of the Workers' Party of Vietnam
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Trường Chinh
First Secretary of the Workers' Party of Vietnam
Succeeded by
Lê Duẩn

17 January 1946

The UN Security Council holds its first session.

Emblem of the United Nations.svg
UN-Sicherheitsrat - UN Security Council - New York City - 2014 01 06.jpg
UN Security Council Chamber in New York
TypePrincipal organ
Legal statusActive
Websitewww.un.org/securitycouncil/ Edit this at Wikidata

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations (UN),[1] charged with ensuring international peace and security,[2] recommending the admission of new UN members to the General Assembly,[3] and approving any changes to the UN Charter.[4] Its powers include establishing peacekeeping operations, enacting international sanctions, and authorizing military action. The UNSC is the only UN body with the authority to issue binding resolutions on member states.

Like the UN as a whole, the Security Council was created after World War II to address the failings of the League of Nations in maintaining world peace. It held its first session on 17 January 1946, and in the ensuing decades was largely paralyzed by the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union and their respective allies. Nevertheless, it authorized military interventions in the Korean War and the Congo Crisis and peacekeeping missions in the Suez Crisis, Cyprus, and West New Guinea. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, UN peacekeeping efforts increased dramatically in scale, with the Security Council authorizing major military and peacekeeping missions in Kuwait, Namibia, Cambodia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The Security Council consists of fifteen members, of which five are permanent:[5] China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America. These were the great powers, or their successor states, that were the victors of World War II. Permanent members can veto any substantive resolution, including those on the admission of new member states or nominees for the office of Secretary-General. The remaining ten members are elected on a regional basis to serve a term of two years. The body's presidency rotates monthly among its members.

Resolutions of the Security Council are typically enforced by UN peacekeepers, military forces voluntarily provided by member states and funded independently of the main UN budget. As of March 2019, there are thirteen peacekeeping missions with over 81,000 personnel from 121 countries, with a total budget of nearly $6.7 billion.[6]


Background and creation

In the century prior to the UN's creation, several international treaty organizations and conferences had been formed to regulate conflicts between nations, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907.[7] Following the catastrophic loss of life in World War I, the Paris Peace Conference established the League of Nations to maintain harmony between the nations.[8] This organization successfully resolved some territorial disputes and created international structures for areas such as postal mail, aviation, and opium control, some of which would later be absorbed into the UN.[9] However, the League lacked representation for colonial peoples (then half the world's population) and significant participation from several major powers, including the US, USSR, Germany, and Japan; it failed to act against the 1931 Japanese invasion of Manchuria, the Second Italo-Ethiopian War in 1935, the 1937 Japanese occupation of China, and Nazi expansions under Adolf Hitler that escalated into World War II.[10]

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Soviet general secretary Joseph Stalin at the Yalta Conference, February 1945

The earliest concrete plan for a new world organization began under the aegis of the US State Department in 1939.[11] US President Roosevelt first coined the term United Nations to describe the Allied countries. "On New Year's Day 1942, President Roosevelt, Prime Minister Churchill, Maxim Litvinov, of the USSR, and T. V. Soong, of China, signed a short document which later came to be known as the United Nations Declaration and the next day the representatives of twenty-two other nations added their signatures."[12] The term United Nations was first officially used when 26 governments signed this Declaration. By 1 March 1945, 21 additional states had signed.[13] "Four Policemen" was coined to refer to the four major Allied countries: the United States, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, and China.[14] and became the foundation of an executive branch of the United Nations, the Security Council.[15]

In mid-1944, the delegations from the Allied "Big Four", the Soviet Union, the UK, the US and China, met for the Dumbarton Oaks Conference in Washington, D.C. to negotiate the UN's structure,[16] and the composition of the UN Security Council quickly became the dominant issue. France, the Republic of China, the Soviet Union, the UK, and US were selected as permanent members of the Security Council; the US attempted to add Brazil as a sixth member, but was opposed by the heads of the Soviet and British delegations.[17] The most contentious issue at Dumbarton and in successive talks proved to be the veto rights of permanent members. The Soviet delegation argued that each nation should have an absolute veto that could block matters from even being discussed, while the British argued that nations should not be able to veto resolutions on disputes to which they were a party. At the Yalta Conference of February 1945, the American, British, and Russian delegations agreed that each of the "Big Five" could veto any action by the council, but not procedural resolutions, meaning that the permanent members could not prevent debate on a resolution.[18]

On 25 April 1945, the UN Conference on International Organization began in San Francisco, attended by 50 governments and a number of non-governmental organizations involved in drafting the United Nations Charter.[19] At the conference, H. V. Evatt of the Australian delegation pushed to further restrict the veto power of Security Council permanent members.[20] Due to the fear that rejecting the strong veto would cause the conference's failure, his proposal was defeated twenty votes to ten.[21]

The UN officially came into existence on 24 October 1945 upon ratification of the Charter by the five then-permanent members of the Security Council and by a majority of the other 46 signatories.[19] On 17 January 1946, the Security Council met for the first time at Church House, Westminster, in London, United Kingdom.[22]

Cold War

Church House in London where the first Security Council Meeting took place on 17 January 1946

The Security Council was largely paralysed in its early decades by the Cold War between the US and USSR and their allies, and the Council generally was only able to intervene in unrelated conflicts.[23] (A notable exception was the 1950 Security Council resolution authorizing a US-led coalition to repel the North Korean invasion of South Korea, passed in the absence of the USSR.)[19][24] In 1956, the first UN peacekeeping force was established to end the Suez Crisis;[19] however, the UN was unable to intervene against the USSR's simultaneous invasion of Hungary following that country's revolution.[25] Cold War divisions also paralysed the Security Council's Military Staff Committee, which had been formed by Articles 45–47 of the UN Charter to oversee UN forces and create UN military bases. The committee continued to exist on paper but largely abandoned its work in the mid-1950s.[26][27]

In 1960, the UN deployed the United Nations Operation in the Congo (UNOC), the largest military force of its early decades, to restore order to the breakaway State of Katanga, restoring it to the control of the Democratic Republic of the Congo by 1964.[28] However, the Security Council found itself bypassed in favour of direct negotiations between the superpowers in some of the decade's larger conflicts, such as the Cuban Missile Crisis or the Vietnam War.[29] Focusing instead on smaller conflicts without an immediate Cold War connection, the Security Council deployed the United Nations Temporary Executive Authority in West New Guinea in 1962 and the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus in 1964, the latter of which would become one of the UN's longest-running peacekeeping missions.[30][31]

On 25 October 1971, over US opposition, but with the support of many Third World nations, along with the Socialist People's Republic of Albania, the mainland, communist People's Republic of China was given the Chinese seat on the Security Council in place of Taiwan; the vote was widely seen as a sign of waning US influence in the organization.[32] With an increasing Third World presence and the failure of UN mediation in conflicts in the Middle East, Vietnam, and Kashmir, the UN increasingly shifted its attention to its ostensibly secondary goals of economic development and cultural exchange. By the 1970s, the UN budget for social and economic development was far greater than its budget for peacekeeping.[33]

Post-Cold War

US Secretary of State Colin Powell holds a model vial of anthrax while giving a presentation to the Security Council in February 2003.

After the Cold War, the UN saw a radical expansion in its peacekeeping duties, taking on more missions in ten years' time than it had in its previous four decades.[34] Between 1988 and 2000, the number of adopted Security Council resolutions more than doubled, and the peacekeeping budget increased more than tenfold.[35] The UN negotiated an end to the Salvadoran Civil War, launched a successful peacekeeping mission in Namibia, and oversaw democratic elections in post-apartheid South Africa and post-Khmer Rouge Cambodia.[36] In 1991, the Security Council demonstrated its renewed vigor by condemning the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait on the same day of the attack, and later authorizing a US-led coalition that successfully repulsed the Iraqis.[37] Undersecretary-General Brian Urquhart later described the hopes raised by these successes as a "false renaissance" for the organization, given the more troubled missions that followed.[38]

Though the UN Charter had been written primarily to prevent aggression by one nation against another, in the early 1990s, the UN faced a number of simultaneous, serious crises within nations such as Haiti, Mozambique and the former Yugoslavia.[39] The UN mission to Bosnia faced "worldwide ridicule" for its indecisive and confused mission in the face of ethnic cleansing.[40] In 1994, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda failed to intervene in the Rwandan genocide in the face of Security Council indecision.[41]

In the late 1990s, UN-authorised international interventions took a wider variety of forms. The UN mission in the 1991–2002 Sierra Leone Civil War was supplemented by British Royal Marines, and the UN-authorised 2001 invasion of Afghanistan was overseen by NATO.[42] In 2003, the US invaded Iraq despite failing to pass a UN Security Council resolution for authorization, prompting a new round of questioning of the organization's effectiveness.[43] In the same decade, the Security Council intervened with peacekeepers in crises including the War in Darfur in Sudan and the Kivu conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In 2013, an internal review of UN actions in the final battles of the Sri Lankan Civil War in 2009 concluded that the organization had suffered "systemic failure".[44] In November/December 2014, Egypt presented a motion proposing an expansion of the NPT (non-Proliferation Treaty), to include Israel and Iran; this proposal was due to increasing hostilities and destruction in the Middle-East connected to the Syrian Conflict as well as others. All members of the Security Council are signatory to the NPT, and all permanent members are nuclear weapons states.[45]


The UN's role in international collective security is defined by the UN Charter, which authorizes the Security Council to investigate any situation threatening international peace; recommend procedures for peaceful resolution of a dispute; call upon other member nations to completely or partially interrupt economic relations as well as sea, air, postal, and radio communications, or to sever diplomatic relations; and enforce its decisions militarily, or by any means necessary. The Security Council also recommends the new Secretary-General to the General Assembly and recommends new states for admission as member states of the United Nations.[46][47] The Security Council has traditionally interpreted its mandate as covering only military security, though US Ambassador Richard Holbrooke controversially persuaded the body to pass a resolution on HIV/AIDS in Africa in 2000.[48]

Under Chapter VI of the Charter, "Pacific Settlement of Disputes", the Security Council "may investigate any dispute, or any situation which might lead to international friction or give rise to a dispute". The Council may "recommend appropriate procedures or methods of adjustment" if it determines that the situation might endanger international peace and security.[49] These recommendations are generally considered to not be binding, as they lack an enforcement mechanism.[50] A minority of scholars, such as Stephen Zunes, have argued that resolutions made under Chapter VI are "still directives by the Security Council and differ only in that they do not have the same stringent enforcement options, such as the use of military force".[51]

Under Chapter VII, the council has broader power to decide what measures are to be taken in situations involving "threats to the peace, breaches of the peace, or acts of aggression".[27] In such situations, the council is not limited to recommendations but may take action, including the use of armed force "to maintain or restore international peace and security".[27] This was the legal basis for UN armed action in Korea in 1950 during the Korean War and the use of coalition forces in Iraq and Kuwait in 1991 and Libya in 2011.[52][53] Decisions taken under Chapter VII, such as economic sanctions, are binding on UN members; the Security Council is the only UN body with the authority to issue binding resolutions.[54][55]

The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court recognizes that the Security Council has authority to refer cases to the Court in which the Court could not otherwise exercise jurisdiction.[56] The Council exercised this power for the first time in March 2005, when it referred to the Court "the situation prevailing in Darfur since 1 July 2002"; since Sudan is not a party to the Rome Statute, the Court could not otherwise have exercised jurisdiction.[57][58] The Security Council made its second such referral in February 2011 when it asked the ICC to investigate the Libyan government's violent response to the Libyan Civil War.[59]

Security Council Resolution 1674, adopted on 28 April 2006, "reaffirms the provisions of paragraphs 138 and 139 of the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document regarding the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity".[60] The Security Council reaffirmed this responsibility to protect in Resolution 1706 on 31 August of that year.[61] These resolutions commit the Security Council to take action to protect civilians in an armed conflict, including taking action against genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity.[62]


Permanent members

The Security Council's five permanent members, below, have the power to veto any substantive resolution; this allows a permanent member to block adoption of a resolution, but not to prevent or end debate.[63]

Country Regional group Current state representation Former state representation
 China Asia-Pacific China People's Republic of China Taiwan Republic of China (1945–1971)
 France Western Europe and Others France French Fifth Republic France Provisional Government (1945–1946)
France French Fourth Republic (1946–1958)
 Russia Eastern Europe Russia Russian Federation Soviet Union Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (1945–1991)
 United Kingdom Western Europe and Others United Kingdom United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland N/A
 United States Western Europe and Others United States United States of America N/A

At the UN's founding in 1945, the five permanent members of the Security Council were the Republic of China, the Provisional Government of the French Republic, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States. There have been two major seat changes since then. China's seat was originally held by Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist Government, the Republic of China. However, the Nationalists were forced to retreat to the island of Taiwan in 1949, during the Chinese Civil War. The Chinese Communist Party assumed control of mainland China, thenceforth known as the People's Republic of China. In 1971, General Assembly Resolution 2758 recognized the People's Republic as the rightful representative of China in the UN and gave it the seat on the Security Council that had been held by the Republic of China, which was expelled from the UN altogether with no opportunity for membership as a separate nation.[32] After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Russian Federation was recognized as the legal successor state of the Soviet Union and maintained the latter's position on the Security Council.[64] Additionally, France eventually reformed its government into the French Fifth Republic in 1958, under the leadership of Charles de Gaulle. France maintained its seat as there was no change in its international status or recognition, although many of its overseas possessions eventually became independent.[65]

The five permanent members of the Security Council were the victorious powers in World War II[66] and have maintained the world's most powerful military forces ever since. They annually topped the list of countries with the highest military expenditures.[67] In 2013, they spent over US$1 trillion combined on defence, accounting for over 55% of global military expenditures (the US alone accounting for over 35%).[67] They are also among the world's largest arms exporters[68] and are the only nations officially recognized as "nuclear-weapon states" under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), though there are other states known or believed to be in possession of nuclear weapons.[69]

Veto power

Number of resolutions vetoed by each of the five permanent members of the Security Council from 1946 until present.[70] vt

Under Article 27 of the UN Charter, Security Council decisions on all substantive matters require the affirmative votes of three-fifths (i.e. nine) of the members. A negative vote or "veto" by a permanent member prevents adoption of a proposal, even if it has received the required votes.[63] Abstention is not regarded as a veto in most cases, though all five permanent members must actively concur to amend the UN Charter or to recommend the admission of a new UN member state.[54] Procedural matters are not subject to a veto, so the veto cannot be used to avoid discussion of an issue. The same holds for certain decisions that directly regard permanent members.[63] A majority of vetoes are used not in critical international security situations, but for purposes such as blocking a candidate for Secretary-General or the admission of a member state.[71]

In the negotiations building up to the creation of the UN, the veto power was resented by many small countries, and in fact was forced on them by the veto nations—United States, United Kingdom, China, France and Soviet Union—through a threat that without the veto there will be no UN. Here is a description by Francis O. Wilcox, an adviser to U.S. delegation to the 1945 conference:

"At San Francisco, the issue was made crystal clear by the leaders of the Big Five: it was either the Charter with the veto or no Charter at all. Senator Connally [from the U.S. delegation] dramatically tore up a copy of the Charter during one of his speeches and reminded the small states that they would be guilty of that same act if they opposed the unanimity principle. 'You may, if you wish,' he said, 'go home from this Conference and say that you have defeated the veto. But what will be your answer when you are asked: "Where is the Charter"?'"[72]

As of 2012, 269 vetoes had been cast since the Security Council's inception.[a] In this period, China used the veto 9 times, France 18, the Soviet Union or Russia 128, the United Kingdom 32, and the United States 89. Roughly two-thirds of Soviet and Russian combined vetoes were in the first ten years of the Security Council's existence. Between 1996 and 2012, the United States vetoed 13 resolutions, Russia 7, and China 5, while France and the United Kingdom did not use the veto.[71]

An early veto by Soviet Commissar Andrei Vishinsky blocked a resolution on the withdrawal of French forces from the then-colonies of Syria and Lebanon in February 1946; this veto established the precedent that permanent members could use the veto on matters outside of immediate concerns of war and peace. The Soviet Union went on to veto matters including the admission of Austria, Cambodia, Ceylon, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Laos, Libya, Portugal, South Vietnam, and Transjordan as UN member states, delaying their joining by several years. The United Kingdom and France used the veto to avoid Security Council condemnation of their actions in the 1956 Suez Crisis. The first veto by the United States came in 1970, blocking General Assembly action in Southern Rhodesia. From 1985 to 1990, the U.S. vetoed 27 resolutions, primarily to block resolutions perceived as anti-Israel but also to protect its interests in Panama and Korea. The Soviet Union, the United States, and China have all vetoed candidates for Secretary-General, with the U.S. using the veto to block the re-election of Boutros Boutros-Ghali in 1996.[73]

Non-permanent members

A chart representing the Security Council seats held by each of the regional groups. The United States, a WEOG observer, is treated as if it were a full member. This is not how the seats are arranged in actual meetings.
  African Group
  Asia-Pacific Group
  Eastern European Group
  Group of Latin American and Caribbean States (GRULAC)
  Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Along with the five permanent members, the Security Council of the United Nations has temporary members that hold their seats on a rotating basis by geographic region. Non-permanent members may be involved in global security briefings.[74] In its first two decades, the Security Council had six non-permanent members, the first of which were Australia, Brazil, Egypt, Mexico, the Netherlands, and Poland. In 1965, the number of non-permanent members was expanded to ten.[75]

These ten non-permanent members are elected by the United Nations General Assembly for two-year terms starting on 1 January, with five replaced each year.[76] To be approved, a candidate must receive at least two-thirds of all votes cast for that seat, which can result in deadlock if there are two roughly evenly matched candidates. In 1979, a standoff between Cuba and Colombia only ended after three months and a record 154 rounds of voting; both eventually withdrew in favour of Mexico as a compromise candidate.[77] A retiring member is not eligible for immediate re-election.[78]

The African Group is represented by three members; the Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia-Pacific, and Western European and Others groups by two apiece; and the Eastern European Group by one. Traditionally, one of the seats assigned to either the Asia-Pacific Group or the African Group is filled by a nation from the Arab world, alternating between the groups.[79] Currently, elections for terms beginning in even-numbered years select two African members, and one each within Eastern Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America and the Caribbean; the traditional "Arab seat" is elected for this term. Terms beginning in odd-numbered years consist of two Western European and Other members, and one each from Asia-Pacific, Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean.[77]

During the 2016 United Nations Security Council election, neither Italy nor the Netherlands met the required two-thirds majority for election. They subsequently agreed to split the term of the Western European and Others Group. It was the first time in over five decades that two members agreed to do so.[80] Usually, intractable deadlocks are resolved by the candidate countries withdrawing in favour of a third member state.

The current elected members, with the regions they were elected to represent, are as follows:[81][82][83][84]

Term Africa Asia-Pacific Eastern Europe Latin America
and Caribbean
Western Europe
and Other
2019  South Africa  Indonesia  Dominican Republic  Belgium  Germany
2020  Niger  Tunisia  Vietnam  Estonia  St.Vincent–Grenadines
2021  Kenya  India  Mexico  Ireland  Norway


United Nations Security Council by political international per country's head of government. Blue: International Democrat Union; red: Progressive Alliance; yellow: Liberal International; dark red: International Communist Seminar; gray: none or independent.

The role of president of the Security Council involves setting the agenda, presiding at its meetings and overseeing any crisis. The president is authorized to issue both Presidential Statements (subject to consensus among Council members) and notes,[85][86] which are used to make declarations of intent that the full Security Council can then pursue.[86] The presidency of the council is held by each of the members in turn for one month, following the English alphabetical order of the Member States names.[87]

The list of nations that will hold the Presidency in 2020 is as follows:[88]

Security Council Presidency in 2020
Month Country
January  Vietnam
February  Belgium
March  China
April  Dominican Republic
May  Estonia
June  France
July  Germany
August  Indonesia
September  Niger
October  Russia
November  Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
December  South Africa

Meeting locations

US President Barack Obama chairs a United Nations Security Council meeting
The meeting room exhibits the United Nations Security Council mural by Per Krohg (1952)

Unlike the General Assembly, the Security Council meets year-round. Each Security Council member must have a representative available at UN Headquarters at all times in case an emergency meeting becomes necessary.[89]

The Security Council generally meets in a designated chamber in the United Nations Conference Building in New York City. The chamber was designed by the Norwegian architect Arnstein Arneberg and was a gift from Norway. The United Nations Security Council mural by Norwegian artist Per Krohg (1952) depicts a phoenix rising from its ashes, symbolic of the world's rebirth after World War II.[90]

The Security Council has also held meetings in cities including Nairobi, Kenya; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Panama City, Panama; and Geneva, Switzerland.[89] In March 2010, the Security Council moved into a temporary facility in the General Assembly Building as its chamber underwent renovations as part of the UN Capital Master Plan.[91] The renovations were funded by Norway, the chamber's original donor, for a total cost of US$5 million.[92] The chamber reopened on 16 April 2013.[93]

Consultation room

Because meetings in the Security Council Chamber are covered by the international press, proceedings are highly theatrical in nature. Delegates deliver speeches to justify their positions and attack their opponents, playing to the cameras and the audience at home. Delegations also stage walkouts to express their disagreement with actions of the Security Council.[94] Due to the public scrutiny of the Security Council Chamber,[95] all of the real work of the Security Council is conducted behind closed doors in "informal consultations".[96][97]

In 1978, West Germany funded the construction of a conference room next to the Security Council Chamber. The room was used for "informal consultations", which soon became the primary meeting format for the Security Council. In 1994, the French ambassador complained to the Secretary-General that "informal consultations have become the Council's characteristic working method, while public meetings, originally the norm, are increasingly rare and increasingly devoid of content: everyone knows that when the Council goes into public meeting everything has been decided in advance".[98] When Russia funded the renovation of the consultation room in 2013, the Russian ambassador called it "quite simply, the most fascinating place in the entire diplomatic universe".[99]

Only members of the Security Council are permitted in the conference room for consultations. The press is not admitted, and other members of the United Nations cannot be invited into the consultations.[100] No formal record is kept of the informal consultations.[101][102] As a result, the delegations can negotiate with each other in secret, striking deals and compromises without having their every word transcribed into the permanent record. The privacy of the conference room also makes it possible for the delegates to deal with each other in a friendly manner. In one early consultation, a new delegate from a Communist nation began a propaganda attack on the United States, only to be told by the Soviet delegate, "We don't talk that way in here."[97]

A permanent member can cast a "pocket veto" during the informal consultation by declaring its opposition to a measure. Since a veto would prevent the resolution from being passed, the sponsor will usually refrain from putting the resolution to a vote. Resolutions are vetoed only if the sponsor feels so strongly about a measure that it wishes to force the permanent member to cast a formal veto.[96][103] By the time a resolution reaches the Security Council Chamber, it has already been discussed, debated, and amended in the consultations. The open meeting of the Security Council is merely a public ratification of a decision that has already been reached in private.[104][96] For example, Resolution 1373 was adopted without public debate in a meeting that lasted just five minutes.[96][105]

The Security Council holds far more consultations than public meetings. In 2012, the Security Council held 160 consultations, 16 private meetings, and 9 public meetings. In times of crisis, the Security Council still meets primarily in consultations, but it also holds more public meetings. After the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis in 2013, the Security Council returned to the patterns of the Cold War, as Russia and the Western countries engaged in verbal duels in front of the television cameras. In 2016, the Security Council held 150 consultations, 19 private meetings, and 68 public meetings.[106]

Subsidiary organs/bodies

Article 29 of the Charter provides that the Security Council can establish subsidiary bodies in order to perform its functions. This authority is also reflected in Rule 28 of the Provisional Rules of Procedure. The subsidiary bodies established by the Security Council are extremely heterogenous. On the one hand, they include bodies such as the Security Council Committee on Admission of New Members. On the other hand, both the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda were also created as subsidiary bodies of the Security Council. The by now numerous Sanctions Committees established in order to oversee implementation of the various sanctions regimes are also subsidiary bodies of the council.

United Nations peacekeepers

After approval by the Security Council, the UN may send peacekeepers to regions where armed conflict has recently ceased or paused to enforce the terms of peace agreements and to discourage combatants from resuming hostilities. Since the UN does not maintain its own military, peacekeeping forces are voluntarily provided by member states. These soldiers are sometimes nicknamed "Blue Helmets" for their distinctive gear.[107][108] The peacekeeping force as a whole received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1988.[109]

Bolivian "Blue Helmet" at an exercise in Chile

In September 2013, the UN had 116,837 peacekeeping soldiers and other personnel deployed on 15 missions. The largest was the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), which included 20,688 uniformed personnel. The smallest, United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), included 42 uniformed personnel responsible for monitoring the ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir. Peacekeepers with the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) have been stationed in the Middle East since 1948, the longest-running active peacekeeping mission.[110]

UN peacekeepers have also drawn criticism in several postings. Peacekeepers have been accused of child rape, soliciting prostitutes, or sexual abuse during various peacekeeping missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,[111] Haiti,[112] Liberia,[113] Sudan and what is now South Sudan,[114] Burundi and Ivory Coast.[115] Scientists cited UN peacekeepers from Nepal as the likely source of the 2010–2013 Haiti cholera outbreak, which killed more than 8,000 Haitians following the 2010 Haiti earthquake.[116]

The budget for peacekeeping is assessed separately from the main UN organisational budget; in the 2013–2014 fiscal year, peacekeeping expenditures totalled $7.54 billion.[110][117] UN peace operations are funded by assessments, using a formula derived from the regular funding scale, but including a weighted surcharge for the five permanent Security Council members. This surcharge serves to offset discounted peacekeeping assessment rates for less developed countries. In 2013, the top 10 providers of assessed financial contributions to United Nations peacekeeping operations were the US (28.38%), Japan (10.83%), France (7.22%), Germany (7.14%), the United Kingdom (6.68%), China (6.64%), Italy (4.45%), Russian Federation (3.15%), Canada (2.98%), and Spain (2.97%).[118]

Criticism and evaluations

In examining the first sixty years of the Security Council's existence, British historian Paul Kennedy concludes that "glaring failures had not only accompanied the UN's many achievements, they overshadowed them", identifying the lack of will to prevent ethnic massacres in Bosnia and Rwanda as particular failures.[119] Kennedy attributes the failures to the UN's lack of reliable military resources, writing that "above all, one can conclude that the practice of announcing (through a Security Council resolution) a new peacekeeping mission without ensuring that sufficient armed forces will be available has usually proven to be a recipe for humiliation and disaster".[120]

A 2005 RAND Corporation study found the UN to be successful in two out of three peacekeeping efforts. It compared UN nation-building efforts to those of the United States, and found that seven out of eight UN cases are at peace.[121] Also in 2005, the Human Security Report documented a decline in the number of wars, genocides and human rights abuses since the end of the Cold War, and presented evidence, albeit circumstantial, that international activism – mostly spearheaded by the UN – has been the main cause of the decline in armed conflict since the end of the Cold War.[122]

Scholar Sudhir Chella Rajan argued in 2006 that the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, who are all nuclear powers, have created an exclusive nuclear club that predominately addresses the strategic interests and political motives of the permanent members – for example, protecting the oil-rich Kuwaitis in 1991 but poorly protecting resource-poor Rwandans in 1994.[123] Since three of the five permanent members are also European, and four are predominantly white Western nations, the Security Council has been described as a pillar of global apartheid by Titus Alexander, former Chair of Westminster United Nations Association.[124]

The Security Council's effectiveness and relevance is questioned by some because, in most high-profile cases, there are essentially no consequences for violating a Security Council resolution. During the Darfur crisis, Janjaweed militias, allowed by elements of the Sudanese government, committed violence against an indigenous population, killing thousands of civilians. In the Srebrenica massacre, Serbian troops committed genocide against Bosniaks, although Srebrenica had been declared a UN safe area, protected by 400 armed Dutch peacekeepers.[125]

In his 2009 speech, Muammar Gaddafi criticized the Security Council's veto powers and the wars permanent members of the Security Council engaged in.

The UN Charter gives all three powers of the legislative, executive, and judiciary branches to the Security Council.[126]

In his inaugural speech at the 16th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in August 2012, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei criticized the United Nations Security Council as having an "illogical, unjust and completely undemocratic structure and mechanism" and called for a complete reform of the body.[127]

The Security Council has been criticized for failure in resolving many conflicts, including Cyprus, Sri Lanka, Syria, Kosovo and the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, reflecting the wider short-comings of the UN. For example; at the 68th Session of the UN General Assembly, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key heavily criticized the UN's inaction on Syria, more than two years after the Syrian civil war began.[128]

There is evidence of bribery on the UNSC. Countries that are elected to the Security Council see a large increase in foreign aid from the US, averaging 59%. They also see a 8% increase in aid from the United Nations, mainly from UNICEF. The increase most strongly correlates to years in which the Security Council addresses issues relevant to the US. There is also evidence of increased foreign aid to elected countries from Japan and Germany. Membership on the UNSC results in reduced economic growth for a given country as compared to non-member countries (3.5% over four years compared to 8.7% for nonmembers). Elected members also experience a reduction in democracy and freedom of the press.[129]

Membership reform

The G4 nations: Brazil, Germany, India, Japan.

Proposals to reform the Security Council began with the conference that wrote the UN Charter and have continued to the present day. As British historian Paul Kennedy writes, "Everyone agrees that the present structure is flawed. But consensus on how to fix it remains out of reach."[130]

There has been discussion of increasing the number of permanent members. The countries who have made the strongest demands for permanent seats are Brazil, Germany, India, and Japan. Japan and Germany, the main defeated powers in WWII, had been the UN's second- and third-largest funders respectively before China took over as the second largest funder in recent years, while Brazil and India are two of the largest contributors of troops to UN-mandated peace-keeping missions.

Italy, another main defeated power in WWII and now the UN's sixth-largest funder, leads a movement known as the Uniting for Consensus in opposition to the possible expansion of permanent seats. Core members of the group include Canada, South Korea, Spain, Indonesia, Mexico, Pakistan, Turkey, Argentina and Colombia. Their proposal is to create a new category of seats, still non-permanent, but elected for an extended duration (semi-permanent seats). As far as traditional categories of seats are concerned, the UfC proposal does not imply any change, but only the introduction of small and medium size states among groups eligible for regular seats. This proposal includes even the question of veto, giving a range of options that goes from abolition to limitation of the application of the veto only to Chapter VII matters.

Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan asked a team of advisers to come up with recommendations for reforming the United Nations by the end of 2004. One proposed measure is to increase the number of permanent members by five, which, in most proposals, would include Brazil, Germany, India, and Japan (known as the G4 nations), one seat from Africa (most likely between Egypt, Nigeria or South Africa), and/or one seat from the Arab League.[131] On 21 September 2004, the G4 nations issued a joint statement mutually backing each other's claim to permanent status, together with two African countries. Currently the proposal has to be accepted by two-thirds of the General Assembly (128 votes).

The permanent members, each holding the right of veto, announced their positions on Security Council reform reluctantly. The United States has unequivocally supported the permanent membership of Japan and lent its support to India and a small number of additional non-permanent members. The United Kingdom and France essentially supported the G4 position, with the expansion of permanent and non-permanent members and the accession of Germany, Brazil, India and Japan to permanent member status, as well as an increase in the presence by African countries on the council. China has supported the stronger representation of developing countries and firmly opposed Japan's membership.[132]

In 2017, it was reported that the G4 nations were willing temporarily to forgo veto power if granted permanent UNSC seats.[133] In September 2017, U.S. Representatives Ami Bera and Frank Pallone introduced a resolution (H.Res.535) in the US House of Representatives (115th United States Congress), seeking support for India for a permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council.[134]

See also


  1. ^ This figure and the figures that follow exclude vetoes cast to block candidates for Secretary-General, as these occur in closed session; 43 such vetoes have occurred.[71]



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Further reading

External links

3 August 1946

Santa Claus Land, the world’s first themed amusement park, opens in Santa Claus, Indiana, United States.

Holiday World & Splashin' Safari
Holiday World Logo.svg
  1. 1 for Family Fun!
LocationSanta Claus, Indiana, United States
Coordinates38°07′08″N 86°54′58″W / 38.119°N 86.916°W / 38.119; -86.916Coordinates: 38°07′08″N 86°54′58″W / 38.119°N 86.916°W / 38.119; -86.916
OwnerKoch Development Corporation[1]
Operated byKoch Development Corporation
General managerMatthew Eckert
OpenedAugust 3, 1946 (1946-08-03)
Previous namesSanta Claus Land (1946-83)
Operating seasonApril through October
Visitors per annum1,100,000+ (2010)
Area125 acres (0.51 km2)
Roller coasters5
Water rides2
WebsiteOfficial website

Holiday World & Splashin' Safari (known as Santa Claus Land prior to 1984) is a combination theme park and water park located near Interstate 64 and U.S. 231 in Santa Claus, Indiana, United States. The theme park is divided into four sections that celebrate Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July with rides, live entertainment, games, and attractions.

Holiday World contains three wooden roller coasters: The Raven, The Legend, and The Voyage, as well as Thunderbird (a Bolliger & Mabillard launched Wing Coaster) and The Howler. The safari-themed water park includes the world's two longest water coasters, Wildebeest and Guinness World Record Holder Mammoth; additionally, it contains a launched dueling water coaster named Cheetah Chase, numerous family raft rides and water slides, two wave pools, a junior-sized wave pool, two children's-sized water slide areas, a lazy river, and two family "tipping buckets".


The Freedom Train, previously called the Santa Claus Land Railroad, operated from 1946 to 2012

Santa Claus Land


Plans for Santa Claus Land were first conceived as a retirement project by Louis J. Koch, a retired industrialist from Evansville, Indiana. In 1941, Koch visited the town of Santa Claus, Indiana. Upset that children came to a town named Santa Claus only to be dismayed when Santa Claus wasn't there, Koch developed the idea for a park where children could have fun and visit Santa year-round. Although initial construction plans were delayed by World War II, construction of Santa Claus Land eventually began on August 4, 1945.[2][3] At this time, Indiana had only one amusement park which was Indiana Beach (at the time called Ideal Beach) that had opened in 1926, 20 years before Santa Claus Land opened.

Opening to 1954

Santa Claus Land opened on August 3, 1946. At no cost, the park offered a Santa, a toy shop, toy displays, a restaurant and themed children's rides, one of which was The Freedom Train. With the park's success, Louis Koch's son, William A. "Bill" Koch, Sr., took over as head of Santa Claus Land. In the following years, Bill Koch continued to add to the park, including the first Jeep-Go-Round ever manufactured, a new restaurant and a deer farm which was eventually home to fourteen European white fallow deer.[2][3][4]

Future President Ronald Reagan visited in 1955

1955 to 1975

An aerial view of Santa Claus Land taken around 1957

Beginning in 1955, Santa Claus Land charged admission for the first time; adults were charged 50 cents while children continued to be admitted for free. Despite the new cost of admission, attendance continued to grow with the park. The Pleasureland ride section, which exists today as Rudolph's Reindeer Ranch, debuted in 1955. In the early 1970's, additional children's rides, including Dasher's Seahorses, Comet's Rockets, Blitzen's Airplanes, and Prancer's Merry-Go-Round, were added to this section. From 1959 to 1961, the first live entertainment, the Willie Bartley Water Ski Thrill Show, performed on Lake Rudolph each summer. A Santa Claus Choir composed of local children also performed at the park in 1970 and 1971.[3]

In 1960, Bill Koch married Patricia "Pat" Yellig, the daughter of Jim Yellig, the park's Santa Claus. Bill and Pat Koch would have five children: Will, Kristi, Daniel, Philip, and Natalie.[2]

1976 to 1983

In 1976, Santa Claus Land shifted its focus, along with its entrance, which was moved from State Road 162 to its present location on State Road 245. The park began to focus on families, rather than just children. The park added nine new rides by 1984, eight of which they hoped would appeal to older children and adults alike. Eagle's Flight, Rough Riders, Roundhouse, Virginia Reel, Scarecrow Scrambler, Lewis & Clark Trail, Paul Revere's Midnight Ride and Thunder Bumpers on Chesapeake Bay were all targeted towards families, while Dancer's Thunder Bumpers Junior was built for children who weren't quite ready for the larger version of the ride.[3]

Holiday World

An early photo of Frightful Falls showing what it looked like prior to the construction of The Legend in this area

1984 to 1992

By 1984, the Koch Family had realized the theming possibilities beyond Christmas. Santa Claus Land soon saw the first major expansion in park history with the addition of a Halloween section and a Fourth of July section. With the inclusion of more than just Christmas, Santa Claus Land formally changed its name to Holiday World. In the following years, Frightful Falls and Banshee were added to the Halloween section, Raging Rapids was added to the Fourth of July section in 1990, and Kringle's Kafé restaurant was built in the Christmas section.[2][3]

It was also during this time period that Holiday World saw a change in leadership. Will Koch, the eldest of Bill Koch's children, took over as President of the park. Another of Bill Koch's children, Daniel "Dan" Koch, became chairman of the board.[5]

Holiday World & Splashin' Safari

An early photo of The Raven. Bill Koch Sr. is on the left; Will Koch is on the right

1993 to 2005

In 1993, the water park Splashin' Safari opened. In its first year of operation, Splashin' Safari operated with Congo River, Crocodile Isle, AmaZOOM and Bamboo Chute. The Wave was added the following year.

The park added the first of its three wooden roller coasters in 1995 with The Raven, built by Custom Coasters International. The Raven was named "Ride of the Year" and was voted as the world's second best wooden roller coaster. In 2000, The Raven was ranked as the #1 wooden roller coaster in the world by Amusement Today magazine, a distinction it held for 4 years.[3] As of the 2011 awards, The Raven has remained ranked among the top twenty wooden roller coasters in the world.[6]

Over the next four years, the park made only two additions. The first was the addition of Monsoon Lagoon in Splashin' Safari. The second was the replacement of Firecracker with Holidog's FunTown, a children's play area featuring Holidog's Treehouse, The Howler, Doggone Trail and Magic Waters.


In 2000, Custom Coasters International added another wooden roller coaster. The Legend, based on Washington Irving's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow", was opened immediately adjacent to The Raven and is taller, longer, and faster than The Raven. The Legend's ranking reached its peak in 2002, when it was voted the fourth best wooden roller coaster in the world.[3] Much like The Raven, The Legend continues to be ranked among the top twenty wooden roller coasters in the world, as of the 2011 awards.[6] In 2000, the park also began offering its guests free unlimited soft drinks, a service which brought international attention to the park.[7] Holiday World was the first park in the world to offer this service to its guests.[2]

For the next five years, the park's additions grew steadily. In 2002, ZOOMbabwe, the world's largest enclosed water slide, was added to Splashin' Safari.[8] In 2003, Splashin' Safari added Zinga on top of The Legend's spiral drop, a ProSlide Tornado, while Holiday World replaced Banshee with Hallowswings and the Hall of Famous Americans wax museum with Liberty Launch. In 2004, the park continued to add onto the water park, adding Jungle Racer and Jungle Jets. Bahari Wave Pool was added in 2005, which marked the beginning of an expansion project that would double the size of Splashin' Safari.[3]

Holiday World & Splashin' Safari received its most sought after award in 2004, when it earned the Applause Award from the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions. To win the award, awarded every two years, a park must show "foresight, originality and creativity, plus sound business development and profitability." With an attendance of 883,000 that year, Holiday World was the smallest park to ever receive the award.[9]

2006 to 2013

The 2006 season marked the 60th anniversary of Holiday World. The park marked it by adding a brand new section: Thanksgiving. To complement the section, the park added two new rides. The first was Gobbler Getaway, a Sally Corporation interactive dark ride. The anchor attraction was the park's third wooden roller coaster, The Voyage, built by The Gravity Group, successors of Custom Coasters International. The addition of The Voyage gained the park national attention once again, as the roller coaster claimed the record for most air-time of any wooden roller coaster at 24.2 seconds.[10] It is also the second longest wooden roller coaster in the world behind only The Beast at Kings Island. In its first year of operation, The Voyage was awarded the title of "Best New Ride" and #2 wooden roller coaster in the world. From 2007 to 2011, The Voyage was awarded the title of #1 wooden roller coaster in the world by the readers of Amusement Today magazine.[6] Also added in 2006 was Bahari River in Splashin' Safari. It was named the "Best New Waterpark Ride" by Amusement Today magazine.[3][11]

Over the next three years, Holiday World & Splashin' Safari opened several new additions. Bakuli and Kima Bay were added to Splashin' Safari, Turkey Whirl and Plymouth Rock Café were added to the Thanksgiving section, the Star Spangled Carousel replaced Thunder Bumpers on Chesapeake Bay in the Fourth of July section, and Reindeer Games replaced Kids Castle in the Christmas section. In 2009, Holiday World continued to break records by opening the world's tallest water ride, Pilgrims Plunge, in the Thanksgiving section of the park. Pilgrims Plunge deviated from the standard of using a sloped lift hill, instead opting for an open-air elevator system that takes riders to a height of 135 feet (41 m) before dropping them at a forty-five degree angle.[3] Pilgrims Plunge was renamed to Giraffica in 2013 when the boundaries between the Thanksgiving section and the water park were slightly altered.[12]

Splashin' Safari broke another record in 2010, when Wildebeest was opened. When Wildebeest opened, it was the world's longest water coaster at 1,710 feet (520 m) long. It was also among the first water coasters to use linear induction motors, rather than water jets or conveyor belts, to propel riders up hills. Wildebeest was named "Best New Waterpark Ride" in 2010, as well as "Best Waterpark Ride" in 2010, 2011 and 2012.[3][13] The park broke its own record just two years later, in 2012, when Mammoth opened. Mammoth, which was the most expensive ride added to the park until the addition of Thunderbird, is 1,763 feet (537 m) long, making it the longest water coaster in the world.[14]

In February 2010, Holiday World's rival park, Kentucky Kingdom in Louisville, Kentucky, announced that it would be closing permanently and ending operations after park operator Six Flags could not reach a lease agreement for the property. Several members of the Koch family later expressed interest into reviving the park in 2012, but later backed out of the deal. This park would eventually reopen under different management in 2014.

The park suffered a sudden loss in June 2010 when President and CEO Will Koch died while swimming at his home. Although the Spencer County coroner listed the official cause of death as drowning, family and park officials believe Koch's type 1 diabetes played a factor in his death. Soon after his death, Holiday World & Splashin' Safari named Will's younger brother Dan as the park's new President.[15] Dan Koch served as the park's President until late 2012, shortly after which the board of directors announced Matt Eckert as the new President, launching a bitter fight within the family for control of the park and its assets. Matt Eckert was previously one of the parks two general managers. Eckert is the first park President not related to the Koch family. They also ousted Pat Koch, Will Sr.'s widow, from any involvement the park. She had been a fixture there for decades.[16]

Will Koch's widow Lori and their three children won primary ownership in the park after an ugly court battle and its parent company, Koch Development Corporation. Dan Koch, along with his sister Natalie, would go on in 2014 to form Koch Family Parks and buy Alabama Splash Adventure, a previously troubled theme park in Bessemer, Alabama.[17]

In recent years, the park has replaced some of its older rides with newer rides. In Holiday World, Blitzen's Airplanes was replaced with Rudolph's Round-Up in 2011 and in 2012 Paul Revere's Midnight Ride was replaced with Sparkler, a 65 feet (20 m) tall Zamperla Vertical Swing ride. Due to limited vertical clearance for Sparkler, the park decided to relocate Star Spangled Carousel to the former location of Paul Revere's Midnight Ride and to place Sparkler in the carousel's place.[18] The following year, Holiday World removed part of Holidog's Treehouse to make room for a new tea cup ride called Kitty's Tea Party. In 2013, the park also removed the only original remaining ride, The Freedom Train, citing maintenance concerns; it was replaced by another train ride which the park named Holidog Express.[19] In Splashin' Safari, Jungle Jets was replaced with Safari Sam's SplashLand in 2011. In 2013, AmaZOOM, Bamboo Chute, Congo River, and Crocodile Isle were removed to make room for a new Splashin' Safari entry plaza; in its place, Hyena Falls and Hyena Springs were added to the north of Giraffica.[3]

2014 and 2015 expansions

On September 6, 2013, Holiday World announced plans for a 2014 expansion totaling $8 million.[20] The highlight of the announcement was a new swinging ship ride called the Mayflower, which is located in the park's Thanksgiving section just to the north of Gobbler Getaway. This ride is the first of a series of rides intended to bring the focus back on the theme park after several years of major additions to the water park. Mayflower has a capacity of 60 riders and swings 54 feet over a pool of water.[21] In addition to Mayflower, the park announced a new restaurant and shop in Splashin' Safari, more cabanas, additional benches and shade structures, parking lot improvements, and the addition of fireworks on Friday nights between June 13 and August 1.[20]

Giraffica closed at the end of the 2013 season and was removed before the start of the 2014 season citing technical problems.[22]

On July 24, 2014, the park announced the construction of Thunderbird, a launched Bolliger & Mabillard Wing Coaster, for the 2015 season, occupying the area north of Hyena Falls and intertwining with The Voyage. This is B&M's first launched coaster (The Incredible Hulk Coaster at Universal's Islands of Adventure's launch was created by Universal, not B&M). The coaster reaches speeds up to 100 kilometres per hour (62 mph) in 3.5 seconds and the tallest vertical loop on a Wing Coaster.[23] It is also the park's first major steel roller coaster, as The Raven, The Legend, and The Voyage are all wooden.

2020 expansion

On August 6, 2019, Holiday World formally announced the construction of Cheetah Chase, for the 2020 season, a dueling launched ProSlide water coaster, occupying an area near the track of The Voyage in Splashin' Safari.[24] Cheetah Chase features a track with a length of over 1,700 feet and a maximum speed of over 20 miles per hour.[25] It is the park's first launched water coaster and their third major water coaster.

Themed areas

Holiday World is divided into four holiday-themed sections: Christmas, Halloween, Fourth of July and Thanksgiving. Each of the sections features rides, games, food and other attractions that follow the theme of that section's respective holiday. The music that plays over the loud speakers in each section is also themed to that section's respective holiday; guests will often notice the music change as they enter a different section. Splashin' Safari, which is connected to the theme park via entrances in the Halloween and Thanksgiving sections, takes the general theme of a safari.


Upon entering Holiday World, guests immediately enter the Christmas section. The Christmas section is the oldest section of Holiday World, dating back to 1946. It was also the only themed area of the park until 1984. Although devoid of any major rides, there is a small sub-section called Rudolph's Reindeer Ranch which is home to several small children's rides. Notable landmarks in this section include a Santa Claus statue, a Christmas tree, a nativity scene and the Applause fountain, which was added after the park was awarded the IAAPA Applause Award in 2004. Prior to 2019, the Christmas section of the park included one of the park's two air-conditioned restaurants, Kringle's Kafé, which served standard theme park food items such as burgers, pizza, and ice cream. In 2019, it was replaced by the addition of Santa's Merry Marketplace, which expanded upon both the capacity, size, and available food of Kringle's Kafé. Since the park's opening in 1946, Santa Claus has been available daily throughout the season to chat with children.

Ride Added Description
Comet's Rockets 1970s Children's rocket ride
Dasher's Seahorses 1970s Children's seahorse ride
Prancer's Merry-Go-Round 1970s Children's carousel
Reindeer Games 2008 Three-story family drop ride
Rudolph's Round-Up 2011 Children's sleigh ride
Dancer's Fish 1970s Fish-go-round (Bulgy the Whale)


The Halloween section was one of two new holidays added in 1984. Two of the three wooden roller coasters in the park are located here: The Raven and The Legend. The area also has a Goblin Burgers restaurant, which resembles a witch's house, the Frightful Falls log flume that intertwines with The Legend, and the main entrance to Splashin' Safari water park. Apart from the architecture, guests will hear the school bell from The Legend's station ringing ominously throughout the section. It introduced Kitty Claws as its mascot in 2012.

Ride Added Manufacturer Description
Scarecrow Scrambler 1976 Eli Bridge Company Classic scrambler ride
Frightful Falls 1984 Log flume
The Raven 1995 Custom Coasters International Wooden roller coaster themed after Edgar Allan Poe's poem "The Raven"
The Legend 2000 Custom Coasters International Wooden roller coaster themed after Washington Irving's short story "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"
HallowSwings 2003 Zamperla Custom-made Zamperla flying carousel swing ride

Fourth of July

The Fourth of July section was the second of the two holidays that were added in 1984. It introduced George the Eagle as its mascot. This area features more attractions than any of the four sections in the theme park. Landmarks in this section include the Hoosier Celebration Theater, where many live shows are performed; the Good Old Days Picnic Grove, where numerous shelter houses may be rented out for company picnics; and The Alamo restaurant, which serves traditional Mexican food. The Fourth of July section is also home to a sub-section called Holidog's FunTown, a children's play area which is completely encircled by Holidog Express. Keeping with the Fourth of July theme, there is also a monument with several American flags located right across from The Alamo restaurant in the center of the section.

Ride Added Description
Eagles Flight 1976 Flying Scooter
Rough Riders 1976 Bumper cars themed after former President Theodore Roosevelt's Rough Riders
Lewis & Clark Trail 1978 Gould Manufacturing Tin Lizzie antique car ride
Tippecanoes 1988 Children's canoe ride; originally called Indian River Canoes, but renamed to Tippecanoes in 2016
Raging Rapids in Boulder Canyon 1990 River rapids ride
Liberty Launch 2003 Seven-story S&S Double Shot. Relocated from park in Panama City, Florida.[26]
Revolution 2005 Dartron Zero Gravity Round Up ride
Star Spangled Carousel 2008 Carousel
Holidog Express 2013 Ridable miniature train ride
Firecracker 2017 Restored Calypso ride; named after the park's now-defunct steel coaster that was replaced by Holidog's Funtown in 1997

Holidog's FunTown

Ride Added Manufacturer Description
Holidog's Treehouse 1999 Three-story play structure; the original was replaced with a new wheelchair accessible play structure in 2017
Just for Pups 1999 Smaller version of Holidog's Treehouse that is designed for small children
The Howler 1999 Zamperla Family steel roller coaster
Doggone Trail 1999 Children's jeep ride
Magic Waters 1999 Spray park area
Kitty's Tea Party 2013 Zamperla Classic tea cup ride


The Thanksgiving section is the newest section of the park, added in 2006 to commemorate Holiday World's 60th anniversary. The anchor attraction of this section is The Voyage which wraps around parts of the midway; guests walk under The Voyage's brake run upon entering the section through Fourth of July. In the back of the Thanksgiving section is Thunderbird, the wing coaster, and a secondary entrance to Splashin' Safari. In addition to The Voyage and Thunderbird, the Thanksgiving section includes the second of the park's two air-conditioned restaurants: Plymouth Rock Café, which serves typical Thanksgiving food such as turkey, prime rib, stuffing, green beans and bread rolls. Turkeys can often be heard "gobbling" throughout the section as sounds emanate from the Gobbler Getaway ride and Pilgrims' Challenge game.

Ride Added Manufacturer Description
The Voyage 2006 The Gravity Group Wooden roller coaster themed after the voyage the Pilgrims made to America in 1620
Gobbler Getaway 2006 Sally Corporation Interactive dark ride
Turkey Whirl 2007 Larson International Turkey-themed Tilt-A-Whirl
Mayflower 2014 Chance Rides Swinging ship themed after the Mayflower
Thunderbird 2015 Bolliger & Mabillard A launched wing coaster themed around the legendary Thunderbird's flight
Crow's Nest 2012 Zamperla A 65-foot (20 meter) tall vertical swing ride.[27] Originally known as Sparkler when in the Fourth of July section.

Splashin' Safari

Splashin' Safari, the water park Holiday World added in 1993, has consistently ranked among the best water parks in the United States, even being named as the #1 water park in the United States by TripAdvisor in 2011.[28] The water park takes the general theme of a safari, with ride names featuring various animals, rivers and Swahili words. Holiday World has added onto its water park every year from 2002 to 2013. Among those additions are the world's two longest water coasters: Wildebeest and Mammoth, which are also, respectively, the fourth and second most expensive additions ever made to the park. Unlike a number of other theme parks that necessitate a separate admission fee for the water park, entry to Splashin' Safari is included with admission to Holiday World.

Ride Added Location Description
The Wave 1994 Splashin' Safari Zero-entry-depth wave pool [Maximum depth: 6 feet (1.8 m)]
Butterfly Bay 1994 Splashin' Safari Smaller zero-entry-depth wave pool for children [Maximum depth: 18 inches (46 cm)]
Watubee 1996 Splashin' Safari Open family river rapids ride allowing up to five riders
Otorongo 1997 Splashin' Safari Collection of three intertwining enclosed inline tube slides named "Otto", "Ron", and "Go"
ZOOMbabwe 2002 Splashin' Safari Enclosed family river rapids ride allowing up to four riders
Zinga 2003 Splashin' Safari Eight-story ProSlide Tornado allowing up to four riders
Jungle Racer 2004 Splashin' Safari Five-story ProSlide ProRacer with ten lanes
Bahari Wave Pool 2005 Splashin' Safari Zero-entry-depth wave pool [Maximum depth: 6 feet (1.8 m)] featuring geysers and water jets
Bahari River 2006 Splashin' Safari Lazy river [Depth: 28 inches (71 cm)]
Bakuli 2007 Splashin' Safari ProSlide Behemoth Bowl allowing up to four riders
Kima Bay 2008 Splashin' Safari WhiteWater West AquaPlay RainFortress [Average depth: 18 inches (46 cm)] featuring seven body slides, 125 water jets and a tipping bucket containing 1,200 US gallons (4,500 L) of water
Wildebeest 2010 Splashin' Safari 1,710 feet (520 m) long ProSlide HydroMagnetic Rocket water coaster allowing up to four riders
Safari Sam's SplashLand 2011 Splashin' Safari Children's play area featuring an activity pool [Maximum depth: 18 inches (46 cm)] with interactive water elements and eight open and enclosed body slides
Mammoth 2012 Splashin' Safari 1,763 feet (537 m) long ProSlide HydroMagnetic Mammoth water coaster allowing up to six riders
Tembo Falls 2018 Splashin' Safari Set of eight smaller water slides designed for younger children
Tembo Tides 2018 Splashin' Safari Small wave pool designed for younger children
Cheetah Chase[29] 2020 Splashin’ Safari Launched dueling water coaster

Defunct rides and attractions

Ride Added Removed Location Description
Jeep-Go-Round 1947 Unknown Christmas Children's jeep ride; it was the first of its kind ever manufactured
Bungee Jump 1992 1992 Halloween Crane-based bungee jump show; temporarily replaced the high dive show
Stormin' Norman's Tank Tag 1992 1996 Fourth of July Series of miniature tanks that up to three guests could ride; replaced by The Alamo
Firecracker 1981 1997 Fourth of July Pinfari Zyklon Z47 steel roller coaster; replaced by Holidog's FunTown
Frontier Farm 1948 1999 Fourth of July Petting zoo with a collection of animals, including baby goats, lambs and 14 reindeer named after Santa Claus's reindeer
Banshee 1986 2002 Halloween Chance Falling Star; replaced by Hallowswings
Hall of Famous Americans 1950s 2002 Fourth of July Wax museum with an emphasis on American Presidents and American History; replaced by Liberty Launch
Roundhouse 1976 2004 Fourth of July Round Up; replaced by Revolution, a larger version of the same ride
Virginia Reel 1976 2005 Fourth of July Tilt-A-Whirl; removed to make room for an additional path to the Thanksgiving section; replaced by Turkey Whirl, a new and relocated version of the same ride
Kids' Castle 1992 2007 Christmas Children's soft play structure, including a slide, trampoline and ball pit; replaced by Reindeer Games
Deer Playground 1992 2007 Christmas Smaller version of Kids' Castle, including a crawl-through train and small ball pit for younger children; replaced by Reindeer Games
Thunder Bumpers on Chesapeake Bay 1980 2007 Fourth of July Bumper boats; replaced by Star Spangled Carousel
Jungle Jets 2004 2010 Splashin' Safari Family spray area, featuring numerous water features; replaced by Safari Sam's SplashLand
Blitzen's Airplanes 1970s 2010 Christmas Children's airplane ride; replaced by Rudolph's Round-Up
Paul Revere's Midnight Ride 1978 2011 Fourth of July Eyerly Spider; replaced by Sparkler, which switched locations with Star Spangled Carousel so that the carousel is now located in Paul Revere's Midnight Ride's old location
Betsy Ross Doll House 1946 2011 Fourth of July Walk-through attraction featuring a collection of antique dolls; originally built in 1856 as the town of Santa Claus' first post office, it was converted into a doll house attraction when Santa Claus Land opened in 1946; the building was moved off-site to be a part of a local museum
AmaZOOM 1993 2012 Splashin' Safari Enclosed inline tube slide allowing single riders only; removed to make room for a new Splashin' Safari entry plaza
Bamboo Chute 1993 2012 Splashin' Safari Inline tube slide with both open and enclosed sections allowing both single and double riders; removed to make room for a new Splashin' Safari entry plaza
Congo River 1993 2012 Splashin' Safari Lazy river; removed to make room for a new Splashin' Safari entry plaza
Crocodile Isle 1993 2012 Splashin' Safari Children's play area featuring two pools connected by two body slides; removed to make room for a new Splashin' Safari entry plaza
The Freedom Train 1946 2012 Fourth of July Ridable miniature train whose engine was a ¼ scale model of a Baltimore and Ohio locomotive; removed due to deterioration and replaced by Holidog Express; engine still preserved on display in the park
Giraffica 2009 2013 Splashin' Safari Intamin shoot the chute ride featuring a 135 feet (41 m) tall open-air elevator; originally called Pilgrims Plunge (2009–2012); removed after the 2013 season due to downtime and reliability.[30]
Dancer's Thunder Bumpers Junior 1982 2013 Christmas Children's bumper boats; replaced by Salmon Run, that was originally in Fourth of July.
Monsoon Lagoon 1998 2018 Splashin' Safari Interactive waterplay complex featuring four body slides and a tipping bucket containing 1,000 US gallons (3,800 L) of water. Removed following the 2019 season on account of its age.[31]
Hyena Falls 2013 2018/2019 Splashin' Safari Collection of four enclosed inline tube slides, the largest of which included a half-pipe element. Due to a needed safety recall and possible refurbishment, the half pipe was removed prior to the 2019 season. On behalf of its distance from the rest of Splashing Safari, the rest of the complex was quietly retired following the 2019 season.
Hyena Springs 2013 2019 Splashin' Safari Children's spray pad play area, quietly removed alongside Hyena Falls.
Stars & Stripes Showdown 2015 2015 Fourth of July Skyline Attractions Strike-U-Up. Operated as a four-person game or two-person ride.[32]

Mascots and characters

Three of Holiday World & Splashin' Safari's mascots. Left to right: George the Eagle, Holidog, Safari Sam

Rather than sign licensed characters for the park, Holiday World has developed several mascots and characters including:

  • Santa Claus– A jolly old man who is the mascot of the Christmas section.
  • Holidog – A brown dog who is the mascot of Holiday World.
  • Safari Sam – A green crocodile who is the mascot of Splashin' Safari.
  • George the Eagle – A bald eagle wearing patriotic clothing who is the mascot of the Fourth of July section.
  • Kitty Claws – A black cat wearing a Halloween-themed tutu, ballet shoes, a bow, and a mini masquerade mask who is the mascot of the Halloween section. Introduced in 2012.


Holiday World & Splashin' Safari offers a variety of live entertainment, including singing, dancing and diving. All shows are performed at least six days per week when the park is in daily operation.

  • Santa's Storytime Theater – This is a theater where children are invited to sit with Santa Claus on stage as he reads a story and sings Christmas songs. During hot weather, Santa appears in the air-conditioned fudge and coffee shop Mrs. Klaus' Kitchen.
  • Holiday Theater – This is an indoor theater that is no longer used for shows during the summer hours. During Happy Halloween Weekends, the theater hosts Holidog's 3D Adventure Maze.
  • Dive! – Located at the High Dive Theater, "Dive!" is a daily show where divers perform numerous dives detailing the history of diving. Divers dive from various heights, including one from a perch 80 feet (24 m) high into 10 feet (3.0 m) of water. In another portion of the show, a diver nicknamed "Hot Stuff" lights themselves on fire before dancing to the song "Hot Stuff" and diving into the water.
  • Hoosier Celebration Theater – This theater is an outdoor theater where a number of live shows are performed daily. Shows performed at this theater include Mysterio: Magic Rocks the Night.
  • Holidog's All-Star Theater – This is a theater located inside of Holidog's FunTown where the show "Holidog's Crazy Science" is performed. The show is geared toward children and features Holidog, Safari Sam, and Kitty Claws (See: Mascots and Characters) singing and dancing to a variety of songs.

Special events

  • Weddings: – Through the years, Holiday World has been the host of several weddings. Couples have been married on the defunct Bungee Jump, in The Wave wave pool, and in a hot air balloon tethered at the park. In 1995, a dozen couples, who completely filled the ride, were simultaneously married on The Raven. A couple was also married atop the lift hill of The Voyage by an Elvis impersonator in 2008.[33]
  • Golden Ticket Awards: – Since 1998, Amusement Today magazine has brought dozens of amusement park industry leaders together to honor the best of the best at an annual event called the Golden Ticket Awards. Holiday World has hosted this event three times. Holiday World & Splashin' Safari was the first ever park to host the event in 2000. Holiday World also hosted the awards in 2006 and 2011. The awards ceremony has been hosted in Holiday Theater in the Christmas section.[6]
  • Play Day: – Every year since 1993, Holiday World & Splashin' Safari has hosted thousands of children with mental and physical disabilities for an event called "Play Day". Play Day is for invited guests of the Easter Seals Rehabilitation Center of Southwestern Indiana. The admission price for Play Day is $9, with all proceeds being donated to the Easter Seals. As of 2011, Holiday World has raised over $257,000 for the Easter Seals Rehabilitation Center.[34]
  • Walk to Cure Diabetes: – Every year since 2006, Holiday World has hosted thousands of walkers for the "Holiday World Walk to Cure Diabetes", which is a walk to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). To raise money, Holiday World donates tickets to walkers who have raised money for JDRF. As of 2011, over $1.7 million has been raised for JDRF with the help of Holiday World.[35]
  • HoliWood Nights: – HoliWood Nights is an event held for card-carrying members of recognized amusement park-related clubs and their registered guests. The event features exclusive ride time (ERT) on the park's three wooden roller coasters, plus a select few other rides, both before park opening and after park closing. The event, which was first known as Stark Raven Mad, was temporarily discontinued in 2003 following a death during the event (See: Incidents). In 2006, the event returned after being renamed HoliWood Nights. The park embraces HoliWood's pun on Hollywood by naming each year's event as a play on the title of a movie. The theme of the 2013 event is "Dig", which is a play on the 1988 movie Big.[36]
  • Rock the World: – Since 2012, Holiday World has hosted a Christian music festival called Rock the World on a select Saturday in August. Throughout the day, regional contemporary Christian bands perform in the Hoosier Celebration Theater. Once the park closes for the day, a main stage area opens to those with concert tickets. The main stage features a number of nationally known Christian artists and bands who perform well past normal closing hours. (The main stage acts in 2012 were Jeremy Camp, Tenth Avenue North, BarlowGirl and Hearts of Saints).[37]
  • Happy Halloween Weekends: – Since 2012, Holiday World has remained open in October to hold an event called Happy Halloween Weekends. For the last two weekends in September plus the four weekends in October, the park holds family-friendly, Halloween-themed activities. Some of these seasonal attractions include two corn mazes, hayrides, a 3-D walk-through attraction similar to a family-friendly haunted house and a family activity area geared towards children located in the Good Ol' Days Picnic Grove. The park transforms itself into a solely Halloween-themed park, with Halloween decorations, Halloween-themed shows and special Halloween-themed food items. These attractions are hosted in addition to the park's normal offerings of rides, games and food.[38]


In 2004, Holiday World & Splashin' Safari was presented the Applause Award. To receive this honor, a park must show "foresight, originality and creativity, plus sound business development and profitability." With an attendance of 883,000 that year, Holiday World was the smallest park to ever receive the award. The park celebrated by installing a large replica of the award's trophy as well as commemorative plaques naming other recipients of the award as part of a fountain in the Christmas section.[9]

Holiday World & Splashin' Safari has also received numerous Golden Ticket Awards, which are presented by Amusement Today magazine to the best of the best in the amusement park industry. At 51, Holiday World has received more Golden Ticket Awards than any other amusement park in the world, as of 2016.[39]

Golden Ticket Awards[40]
Award Year Recipient
Friendliest Park 1998–2008, 2010–2011 Entire Park
Cleanest Park 2000–2018 Entire Park
Best Wooden Roller Coaster 2000–2003 The Raven
Best Wooden Roller Coaster 2007–2011 The Voyage
Best New Ride 2006 The Voyage
Best New Waterpark Ride 2006 Bahari River
Best New Waterpark Ride 2007 Bakuli
Best New Waterpark Ride 2010 Wildebeest
Best New Waterpark Ride 2012 Mammoth
Best Waterpark Ride 2003 Zinga
Best Waterpark Ride 2010–2019 Wildebeest
Publisher's Pick: Park of the Year 2004 Entire Park
Publisher's Pick: Legends Series 2010 Will Koch


The Raven

  • On May 31, 2003, a 32-year-old female from New York City, died after falling out of The Raven roller coaster. The victim was visiting the park to attend "Stark Raven Mad 2003", an event hosting roller coaster enthusiasts from around the country. At approximately 8:00 pm, the victim and her fiancé boarded The Raven in the last row of the train. Following a safety check of her lap bar and seat belt by a ride operator, the train left the station. Multiple witnesses reported that they saw her "virtually standing up" during the ride's initial and subsequent drops. During the ride's 69 feet (21 m) drop, also called the fifth drop, she was ejected from the car and onto the tracks. When the train returned to the station, the victim's fiancé, ride operators and a passenger who was a doctor ran back along the tracks, at which point they found her lying under the structure of the roller coaster at the fifth drop. The doctor, aided by park medical personnel, began CPR until an ambulance arrived. The victim was pronounced dead en route to the hospital.[41]
An investigation following the accident showed that the safety restraints were working properly and that there were no mechanical deficiencies on the roller coaster. Additionally, the victim's seatbelt was found undone when the train returned to the station.[42] A subsequent 2005 lawsuit filed by the family against Holiday World and the Philadelphia Toboggan Company, the manufacturer of the coaster train, was settled out of court in 2007. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.[43][44]

Lawnmowing accident

  • On May 27, 2006, a 20-year-old male park employee from Birdseye, Indiana died after being pinned under the lawn mower he was using. The man was a supervisor for the park's grounds department. The employee was working alone, mowing an area with some inclines outside the east side of the park when the incident occurred, though the park refused to speculate on exactly what might have happened. The man was found by another employee, who was then able to help lift the lawn mower off the victim with the help of other employees. Park emergency medical technicians and Spencer County EMS summoned a medical helicopter from St. Mary's Hospital and Medical Center in Evansville, Indiana, but the employee was pronounced dead before it arrived.[45][46]

The Wave

  • On July 4, 2007, at 11:00 a.m., a 29-year-old female from Fort Wayne, Indiana died after collapsing near the edge of The Wave, falling face-down into two inches of water. Lifeguards immediately responded and pulled her out, then attempted to revive her with help from park medical personnel. Resuscitation attempts continued as the victim was transported by ambulance to Jasper Memorial Hospital, where she died. An autopsy determined the cause of death to be congestive heart failure.[47]

Bahari River

  • On June 20, 2009, a filter pump on Bahari River malfunctioned, sending twenty-four guests and employees to the hospital. At 6:25 pm, the pump, which was turned off at the time, was turned back on. The pump surged, forcing a stronger than usual concentration of liquid bleach and hydrochloric acid into the water. Twenty-four people, including park staff and medical personnel, complained of troubled breathing and nausea. They were given oxygen at the park before being transported to Jasper Memorial Hospital for treatment. All were treated and released that evening. It was later determined that an interlock system designed to prevent chemical feeders from pumping chemicals into the water when the pump was turned off had malfunctioned.[48]

Bomb scare

  • On June 30, 2016, a suspicious unattended backpack was found, causing an evacuation of the entire park.[49][50]


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  31. ^ https://www.holi