Dag Hammarskjöld

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Dag Hammarskjöld
Image:Dag Hammarskjold.jpg


In office
April 10, 1953 – September 18, 1961
Preceded by Trygve Lie
Succeeded by U Thant

Born July 29, 1905
Jönköping, Sweden
Died September 18, 1961
Ndola, Northern Rhodesia, current Republic of Zambia

Dag Hjalmar Agne Carl Hammarskjöld (Dag Hammarskjöld ) (July 29, 1905September 18, 1961) was a Swedish diplomat and the second Secretary-General of the United Nations. He served from April 1953 until his death in a plane crash in September 1961.


[edit] Early life

Dag Hammarskjöld was born in Jönköping, although he lived most of his childhood in Uppsala. He was the fourth and youngest son of Hjalmar Hammarskjöld, Prime Minister of Sweden (1914–1917), and Agnes Almquist. His ancestors had served the Swedish Crown since the 17th century. He studied at Uppsala University where he graduated with a Master's degree in political economy and a Bachelor of Law degree. He then moved to Stockholm.

From 1930 to 1934 he was a secretary of a governmental committee on unemployment. He also wrote his economics thesis Konjunkturspridningen (The Spread of the Business Cycle) and received his Doctorate from Stockholm University in 1933. In 1936 Hammarskjöld became a secretary in the Bank of Sweden and soon he was an undersecretary of finance. From 1941 to 1948 he served as a chairman of the Bank of Sweden.

Early in 1945, he was appointed as adviser to the cabinet on financial and economic problems, and coordinated government plans to alleviate the economic problems of the post-war period.

In 1947 Hammarskjöld was appointed to Sweden's Ministry for Foreign Affairs, and in 1949 he became the State Secretary for Foreign Affairs. He was a delegate in the Paris conference that established the Marshall Plan. In 1948 he was again in Paris to attend conference for the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation. In 1950 he became a head of Sweden delegation to UNISCAN. In 1951, he became a cabinet minister without portfolio and in effect Deputy Foreign Minister. Although Hammarskjöld served with a cabinet dominated by the Social Democrats, he never officially joined any political party. On December 20, 1954, he was elected to take his father's vacated seat in the Swedish Academy. In 1951 Hammarskjöld became vice chairman of Swedish delegation to the United Nations General Assembly in Paris. He became the chairman of the Swedish delegation to the General Assembly in New York in 1952.

[edit] UN Secretary General

When Trygve Lie resigned from his post as UN Secretary General in 1953, the Security Council decided to recommend Hammarskjöld to the post. It came as a surprise to him. He was selected on March 31 with the majority of 10 out of eleven states. The UN General Assembly elected him in the April 7–10 session, by 57 votes out of 60. In 1957 he was re-elected.

Hammarskjöld started his term by establishing his own secretariat of 4,000 administrators. He set up regulations that defined their responsibilities. He insisted that the secretary-general should be able to take emergency action without the prior approval of the Security Council or the General Assembly.

During his terms, Hammarskjöld tried to soothe relations between Israel and the Arab states. In 1955 he went to mainland China to negotiate the release of 15 US pilots who had served in the Korean War and been captured by the Chinese. In 1956 he established the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF). In 1957 he intervened in the Suez Crisis.

In 1960 the former Belgian colony and now newly-independent Congo asked for UN aid in defusing the escalating civil strife. Hammarskjöld made four trips to the Congo republic. However, his efforts towards the decolonisation of Africa were considered insufficient by the USSR. In September 1960 the Soviet Union denounced his decision to send a UN emergency force to keep the peace. They demanded his resignation, and the replacement of the office of secretary-general by a three-man directorate with a built-in veto, the "troika". The objective was, citing the memoirs of the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, to "equally represent interests of three groups of countries: capitalist, socialist and recently independent" [1].

Like his predecessor Trygve Lie, Hammarskjöld ended his term a lame duck, no longer on speaking terms with one of the UN's most important members, the Soviet Union. His bad relations with both the Soviets and the French led directly to financial crisis and the looming threat to bankruptcy, as both these governments refused to pay their peacekeeping dues. It would be up to his sucessor, U Thant, to rehabiliate the office of Secretary-General.

[edit] Death

In September 1961, Hammarskjöld found out about the fighting between non-combatant UN forces and Katanga troops of Moise Tshombe. He was en route to negotiate a cease-fire on the night of September 17-18 when his plane crashed near Ndola, Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia). He and fifteen others perished. There is still speculation as to the cause of the crash.

The explanation of investigators at the time is that Hammarskjöld's aircraft descended too low on its approach to Ndola's airport at night. The crew had filed no flight plan for security reasons. No evidence of a bomb, surface-to-air missile or hijacking has ever been presented. It has been speculated that the crew of the DC-6 incorrectly used altitude data for Ndolo (915 ft, 279 m), which is in the Congo and at lower altitude, rather than Ndola ( 4167ft, 1270 m) in Northern Rhodesia.

On August 19, 1998, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, chairman of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), revealed that recently-uncovered letters had implicated British MI5, American CIA and South African intelligence services in the 1961 crash of Dag Hammarskjöld's plane. One TRC letter said that a bomb in the aircraft's wheel-bay was set to detonate when the wheels came down for landing.[2]

On July 29, 2005, exactly 100 years after Hammarskjöld's birth, the Norwegian Major General Bjørn Egge gave an interview to the newspaper Aftenposten on the events surrounding his death. According to Egge, who was the first UN officer to see the body, Hammarskjöld had a hole in his forehead, and this hole was subsequently airbrushed from photos taken of the body. It appeared to Egge that Hammarskjöld had been thrown from the plane, and grass and leaves in his hands might indicate that he survived the crash, and had tried to scramble away from the wreckage. Egge's statement does not, however, align with Archbishop Tutu's information.[3]

A less conspiratorial theory holds that Hammarskjöld's plane struck some treetops as it was preparing for landing. Hammarskjöld was the only person whose body was separate from the wreckage and therefore not burnt due to his aversion to seatbelts. He was thrown from the crash able to crawl away from the plane, but his injuries were severe enough that he was already dead by the time the plane was found.

His only book Vägmärken (Markings) was published in 1963. A collection of his diary reflections, the book starts in 1925, when he was 20 years old, and ends at his death in 1961.[4] In the book Hammarskjöld reveals himself as a Christian Mysticist and describes his diplomat deed in the way of a ”inner journey”; the book became popular with U.S. students and also with the former Swedish archbishop K.G. Hammar.

[edit] Nobel Peace Prize

Hammarskjöld received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1961, having been nominated before his death.

[edit] Legacy

Today Hammarskjöld is viewed perhaps as the greatest Secretary-General because of his ability to shape events in contrast to his sucessors. This view is one that is commonly shared by intellectuals around the world, such as the historian Paul Kennedy, who hailed Hammarskjöld in his book The Parliament of Man.

A Manhattan park near the United Nations headquarters is called Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, and nearby buildings use it as a vanity address.

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
Preceded by:
Trygve Lie
UN Secretary-General
Succeeded by:
U Thant
Preceded by:
Hjalmar Hammarskjöld
Swedish Academy,
Seat No.17

Succeeded by:
Erik Lindegren
ar:داغ همر شولد

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Dag Hammarskjöld

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