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Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld's Reform Agenda - 1953 to 1961


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United Nations

In 1953, the UN General Assembly elected Swedish diplomat and former central bank president Dag Hammarskjöld as the second Secretary General of the United Nations. During his tenure, the UN membership nearly doubled from 60 to 104, as countries in Africa and Asia gained independence from the European colonial powers. In response to growing tensions between the West and the Soviet bloc in the 1950s, Hammarskjöld tried to strengthen the role of the UN and make the position of Secretary General more independent. He increased the number of staff and, during the Suez crisis in 1956, Hammarskjöld deployed for the first time a UN force of peacekeepers as a buffer between Egypt and Israel. Both Western powers and the Soviet Union have criticized the Secretary General for overstepping the bounds of his office, but Hammarskjöld was widely respected. He served until September 1961, when he was killed in an airplane crash on a UN mission to the Congo. After his death, the Nobel Committee awarded Hammarskjöld the Peace Prize for his work to "promote peaceful solutions of armed conflicts," especially in the Congo.


The Return of Dag (September 2005)

Following in his father's footsteps, Dag Hammarskjöld, former UN Secretary General, embarked on a public service career, despite his literary vocation. Before joining the UN he was involved in Swedish politics as head of the finance ministry. As chief of the United Nations he was responsible for the first major deployment of troops in Congo, he introduced "preventive diplomacy" and he broadened the role of the Secretary General. (UN Special)



Letters Say Hammarskjöld Death Western Plot (August 19, 1998)

South Africa's truth commission released documents that suggest "a Western plot was behind the death" of former Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld. The documents, found in South Africa, discuss the sabotage of the aircraft Hammarskjöld died in and give details of orders to plant explosives in the wheel bay of the plane. The letters also refer to the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and a letter that the indicated that the British MI5 security service "felt Hammarskjöld should be removed." The truth commission decided to release the letter to the public, even though they could not verify the letters' authenticity. (Reuters)


Dag Hammarskjöld: "Virtuoso of Multilateral Diplomacy" - Former United Nations Secretary General (September 1991)

This article praises the work of former UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld, "an exceptional international leader." According to the author, his background and education, but even more his personal qualities made him a great political figure. As to his view on the future of the United Nations, he insisted on preventive action rather than "corrective action." He wanted the UN Charter to become a political reality. (UN Chronicle)

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