Eelco van Kleffens

Eelco van Kleffens
Eelco van Kleffens
President of the United Nations General Assembly
In office

Eelco Nicolaas van Kleffens (17 November 1894 in Heerenveen – 17 June 1983 in Almoçageme, Portugal) was a politician and diplomat of the Netherlands.

Eelco van Kleffens descended from an old Frisian family of public servants. He was the son of Henricus Cato and Jeannette Frésine (Veenhoven) van Kleffens. His younger brother Adrianus van Kleffens would later become a judge at the European Court of Justice. He married Margaret Helen Horstman on 4 April 1935.

After receiving a Doctor of Laws degree from Leiden University, van Kleffens worked in the Secretariat of the League of Nations. He became secretary to the Directorate of Royal Dutch Petroleum Co. in 1920. He was appointed Assistant Directcor of the Legal Section of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1922 and then and of the Diplomatic Section in 1927, becoming Director of the latter in 1929. In the early 1930s he was also Secretary-General of the Hague Academy of International Law.

Van Kleffens was appointed the Minister of Foreign Affairs in 1939, weeks before World War II began, and was part of the Dutch government in exile over that period. During the war he penned an account of the German invasion named Juggernaut over Holland which was circulated within the occupied territory, and he was also one of the original signatories of the Benelux union.

Van Kleffens held the position of foreign minister until the Schermerhorn/Drees cabinet of 1946. Following his resignation from the ministerial position (but not from the cabinet) van Kleffens became the Netherlands' representative on the United Nations Security Council, and in 1947 was appointed the ambassador to the United States. In 1950 he became the ambassador to Portugal, and was bestowed the title of Minister of State, a prestigious honour.

In 1954 van Kleffens was appointed to the position of President of the United Nations General Assembly for that body's ninth session.

Van Kleffens was the Dutch representative at NATO and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development from 1956 to 1958, and at the European Coal and Steel Community from 1958 until 1967, after which Van Kleffens retired to Portugal, where he died on 17 June 1983.


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Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit
President of the United Nations General Assembly
Succeeded by
José Maza Fernández
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