Although Bunche was an expert in African politics, he also studied U.S. race relations and joined civil rights protests on several occasions. During World War II, he worked as a social science analyst for the U.S. government and served as an advisor in the negotiations that led to the formation of the United Nations (UN) in 1945. As a member of the newly created UN Secretariat, he became an expert on Palestinian affairs.
In 1950, Bunche became the first person of color to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his successful efforts in negotiating an armistice agreement between Egypt and Israel after the first Arab-Israeli War. Four years later, he was appointed undersecretary-general of the UN. In 1956 he supervised UN peacekeeping operations in the Middle East after the Suez Crisis, and he organized subsequent peacekeeping missions in the Congo (1960) and Cyprus (1962). Bunche died on 9 December 1971 in New York City.
Urquhart, Brian. Ralph Bunche: An American Life. New York: Norton, 1993.