|2nd Secretary-General of the United Nations|
10 April 1953 –18 September 1961
|Preceded by||Trygve Lie|
|Succeeded by||U Thant|
Dag Hjalmar Agne Carl Hammarskjöld
29 July 1905
|Died||18 September 1961 56) (aged|
Ndola, Northern Rhodesia, Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland
|Cause of death||Aeroplane crash|
|Alma mater|| Uppsala University |
Dag Hjalmar Agne Carl Hammarskjöld ( // HAM-ər-shuuld, Swedish: [ˈdɑːɡ ˈhâmːarˌɧœld] ( listen ); 29 July 1905 – 18 September 1961) was a Swedish economist and diplomat who served as the second Secretary-General of the United Nations. As of 2021, he remains the youngest person to have held the post, having been only 47 years old when he was appointed in 1953.
Hammarskjöld's tenure was characterized by efforts to strengthen the newly formed UN both internally and externally. He led initiatives to improve morale and organisational efficiency while seeking to make the UN more responsive to global issues. He presided over the creation of the first UN peacekeeping forces in Egypt and the Congo, and personally intervened to defuse or resolve diplomatic crises. Hammarskjöld's second term was cut short when he died in a plane crash while en route to cease-fire negotiations during the Congo Crisis.
Hammarskjöld was and remains well regarded internationally as a capable diplomat and administrator, and his efforts to resolve various global crises led to him being the only posthumous recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.He is considered one of the two best UN secretaries-general, along with his successor U Thant, and his appointment has been hailed as one of the most notable successes for the organization. U.S. President John F. Kennedy called Hammarskjöld "the greatest statesman of our century."
Dag Hammarskjöld was born in Jönköping to the noble family Hammarskjöld (also spelled Hammarskiöld or Hammarsköld). He spent most of his childhood in Uppsala. His home there, which he considered his childhood home, was Uppsala Castle. He was the fourth and youngest son of Hjalmar Hammarskjöld, Prime Minister of Sweden from 1914 to 1917.
Hammarskjöld studied first at Katedralskolan and then at Uppsala University. By 1930, he had obtained Licentiate of Philosophy and Master of Laws degrees. Before he finished his law degree he had already obtained a job as Assistant Secretary of the Unemployment Committee.
From 1930 to 1934, Hammarskjöld was Secretary of a governmental committee on unemployment. During this time he wrote his economics thesis, "Konjunkturspridningen" ("The Spread of the Business Cycle"), and received a doctorate from Stockholm University. In 1936, he became a secretary in Sweden's central bank, the Riksbank. From 1941 to 1948, he served as chairman of the Riksbank's General Council.
Hammarskjöld quickly developed a successful career as a Swedish public servant. He was state secretary in the Ministry of Finance 1936–1945, Swedish delegate to the Organization for European Economic Cooperation 1947–1953, cabinet secretary for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs 1949–1951 and minister without portfolio in Tage Erlander's government 1951–1953.
He helped coordinate government plans to alleviate the economic problems of the post-World War II period and was a delegate to the Paris conference that established the Marshall Plan. In 1950, he became head of the Swedish delegation to UNISCAN, a forum to promote economic cooperation between the United Kingdom and the Scandinavian countries.Although Hammarskjöld served in a cabinet dominated by the Social Democrats, he never officially joined any political party.
In 1951, Hammarskjöld was vice chairman of the 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. On 20 December 1954, he was elected to take his father's vacated seat in the Swedish Academy.
On 10 November 1952 Trygve Lie announced his resignation as Secretary-General of the United Nations. Several months of negotiations ensued between the Western powers and the Soviet Union, without reaching an agreement on his successor. On 13 and 19 March 1953, the Security Council voted on four candidates. Lester B. Pearson of Canada was the only candidate to receive the required majority, but he was vetoed by the Soviet Union.At a consultation of the permanent members on 30 March 1953, French ambassador Henri Hoppenot suggested four candidates, including Hammarskjöld, whom he had met at the Organisation for European Economic Cooperation.
The superpowers hoped to seat a Secretary-General who would focus on administrative issues and refrain from participating in political discussion. Hammarskjöld's reputation at the time was, in the words of biographer Emery Kelèn, "that of a brilliant economist, an unobtrusive technician, and an aristo-bureaucrat". As a result, there was little to no controversy in his selection;the Soviet permanent representative, Valerian Zorin, found Hammarskjöld "harmless". Zorin declared that he would be voting for Hammarskjöld, surprising the Western powers. The announcement set off a flurry of diplomatic activity. British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden was strongly in favor of Hammarskjöld and asked the United States to "take any appropriate action to induce the [Nationalist] Chinese to abstain". (Sweden recognized the People's Republic of China and faced a potential veto from the Republic of China.) At the U.S. State Department, the nomination "came as a complete surprise to everyone here and we started scrambling around to find out who Mr. Hammarskjold was and what his qualifications were". The State Department authorized Henry Cabot Lodge Jr., the US Ambassador, to vote in favor after he told them that Hammarskjöld "may be as good as we can get".
Journalist: "We understand you've been designated Secretary-General of the United Nations."
Hammarskjöld: "This April Fool's Day joke is in extremely bad taste: it's nonsense!"
On 31 March 1953, the Security Council voted 10-0-1 to recommend Hammarskjöld to the General Assembly, with an abstention from Nationalist China.Shortly after midnight on 1 April 1953, Hammarskjöld was awakened by a telephone call from a journalist with the news, which he dismissed as an April Fool's Day joke. He finally believed the news after the third phone call. The Swedish mission in New York confirmed the nomination at 03:00 and a communique from the Security Council was soon thereafter delivered to him. After consulting with the Swedish cabinet and his father, Hammarskjöld decided to accept the nomination. He sent a wire to the Security Council:
With strong feeling personal insufficiency I hesitate to accept candidature but I do not feel I could refuse to assume the task imposed on me should the [UN General] Assembly follow the recommendation of the Security Council by which I feel deeply honoured.
Later in the day Hammarskjöld held a press conference at the Swedish Foreign Ministry. According to diplomat Sverker Åström, he displayed an intense interest and knowledge in the affairs of the UN, which he had never shown any indication of before.
The U.N. General Assembly voted 57-1-1 on 7 April 1953 to appoint Dag Hammarskjöld as Secretary-General of the United Nations. Hammarskjöld was sworn in as Secretary-General on 10 April 1953.He was unanimously reelected on 26 September 1957 for another term, taking effect on 10 April 1958.
Immediately following the assumption of the Secretariat, Hammarskjöld attempted to establish a good rapport with his staff. He made a point of visiting every UN department to shake hands with as many workers as possible, eating in the cafeteria as often as possible, and relinquishing the Secretary-General's private elevator for general use.He began his term by establishing his own secretariat of 4,000 administrators and setting up regulations that defined their responsibilities. He was also actively engaged in smaller projects relating to the UN working environment; for example, he spearheaded the building of a meditation room at the UN headquarters, where people can withdraw into themselves in silence, regardless of their faith, creed, or religion.
During his term, Hammarskjöld tried to improve relations between Israel and the Arab states. Other highlights include a 1955 visit to China to negotiate the release of 11 captured US pilots who had served in the Korean War,the 1956 establishment of the United Nations Emergency Force, and his intervention in the 1956 Suez Crisis. He is given credit by some historians for allowing participation of the Holy See within the United Nations that year.
In 1960, the newly independent Congo asked for UN aid in defusing the Congo Crisis. Hammarskjöld made four trips to Congo, but his efforts toward the decolonisation of Africa were considered insufficient by the Soviet Union; in September 1960, the Soviet government 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 Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, to "equally represent interests of three groups of countries: capitalist, socialist and recently independent".
On 18 September 1961, Hammarskjöld was en route to negotiate a cease-fire between United Nations Operation in the Congo forces and Katangese troops under Moise Tshombe. His Douglas DC-6 airliner SE-BDY crashed near Ndola, Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia). Hammarskjöld perished as a result of the crash, as did all of the 15 other passengers.Hammarskjöld's death set off a succession crisis at the United Nations, as there was no line of succession and the Security Council had to vote on a successor.
The circumstances of the crash are still unclear. A 1962 Rhodesian inquiry concluded that pilot error was to blame, while a later UN investigation could not determine the cause of the crash.There is evidence suggesting the plane was shot down. A CIA report claimed the KGB was responsible.
The day after the crash, former U.S. President Harry Truman commented that Hammarskjöld "was on the point of getting something done when they killed him. Notice that I said 'when they killed him'."
In 1998, documents surfaced suggesting CIA, MI6, and/or Belgian mining interest involvement via a South African paramilitary organization. The information was contained in a file from the South African National Intelligence Agency turned over to the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission in relation to the 1993 assassination of Chris Hani, leader of the South African Communist Party. These documents included an alleged plot to "remove" Hammarskjöld and contained a supposed statement from CIA director Allen Dulles that "Dag is becoming troublesome … and should be removed." Hammarskjöld's mission to end the war over the mineral-rich Katangese secession from the newly formed Republic of the Congo was contrary to the interests of those organizations. However these documents were copies rather than originals, precluding substantiation of authenticity through ink and paper testing.
Göran Björkdahl, a Swedish aid worker whose father worked for the UN in Zambia, wrote in 2011 that he believed Hammarskjöld's death was a murder committed, in part, to benefit mining companies like Union Minière, after Hammarskjöld had made the UN intervene in the Katanga crisis. Björkdahl based his assertion on interviews with witnesses of the plane crash near the border of the DRC with Zambia and on archival documents.
In 2013 accident investigator Sven Hammarberg was asked by the International Commission of Jurists to investigate Hammarskjöld's death.
In 2014, newly declassified documents revealed that the American ambassador to the Congo sent a cable to Washington D.C. warning that the plane could have been shot down by Belgian mercenary pilot Jan van Risseghem, commander of the small Katanga Air Force. Van Risseghem died in 2007.
On 16 March 2015, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed members to an Independent Panel of Experts to examine new information related to Hammarskjöld's death. The three-member panel was led by Mohamed Chande Othman, the Chief Justice of Tanzania, and included Kerryn Macaulay (Australia's representative to the ICAO) and Henrik Larsen (a ballistics expert from the Danish National Police).The panel's 99-page report, released 6 July 2015, assigned "moderate" value to nine new eyewitness accounts and transcripts of radio transmissions. Those accounts suggested that Hammarskjöld's plane was already on fire as it landed and that other jet aircraft and intelligence agents were nearby.
In 2016, the original documents from the 1998 South African investigation surfaced. Those familiar with the investigation cautioned that even if authentic, the documents could have been initially authored as part of a disinformation campaign.
In 2019, the documentary film Cold Case Hammarskjöld by Danish filmmaker Mads Brügger claimed that Jan van Risseghem had told a friend that he shot down Hammarskjöld's aircraft. This went against the official stance maintained by van Risseghem's family that he was not involved in the death of Hammarskjöld. According to an interview with van Risseghem's wife, he was in Rhodesia negotiating the purchase of a plane for the Katanga Air Force and the logbooks provided "proof that he was not flying for Katanga at the time". The documentary crew interviewed multiple colleagues of van Risseghem for the film, all of whom supported their theory.In an interview with Swedish historian Leif Hellström, van Risseghem claimed that he was not in southern Africa at the time it happened, and dismissed the idea of being potentially involved as "fairy stories".
In Hammarskjöld's 1959 will he left his personal archive to the National Library of Sweden.
Following his appointment as UN Secretary-General, Hammarskjöld carried a copy of the oath of office with him on his travels. It was found in one of his books in the Ndola crash site.
In 1953, soon after his appointment as United Nations Secretary-General, Hammarskjöld was interviewed on radio by Edward R. Murrow. In this talk Hammarskjöld declared:
But the explanation of how man should live a life of active social service in full harmony with himself as a member of the community of spirit, I found in the writings of those great medieval mystics [ Meister Eckhart and Jan van Ruysbroek ] for whom 'self-surrender' had been the way to self-realization, and who in 'singleness of mind' and 'inwardness' had found strength to say yes to every demand which the needs of their neighbours made them face, and to say yes also to every fate life had in store for them when they followed the call of duty as they understood it.
Hammarskjöld's only book, Vägmärken (Markings, or more literally Waymarks), was published in 1963. A collection of his diary reflections, the book starts in 1925, when he was 20 years old, and ends the month before his death in 1961.This diary was found in his New York house, after his death, along with an undated letter addressed to then Swedish Permanent Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Leif Belfrage. In this letter, Hammarskjöld wrote:
These entries provide the only true 'profile' that can be drawn ... If you find them worth publishing, you have my permission to do so.
The foreword is written by the English poet W. H. Auden, a friend of Hammarskjöld's.
Markings was described by the late theologian Henry P. Van Dusen as "the noblest self-disclosure of spiritual struggle and triumph, perhaps the greatest testament of personal faith written ... in the heat of professional life and amidst the most exacting responsibilities for world peace and order".Hammarskjöld wrote, for example:
We are not permitted to choose the frame of our destiny. But what we put into it is ours. He who wills adventure will experience it – according to the measure of his courage. He who wills sacrifice will be sacrificed – according to the measure of his purity of heart.
Markings is characterised by Hammarskjöld's intermingling of prose and haiku poetry in a manner exemplified by the 17th-century Japanese poet Basho in his Narrow Roads to the Deep North .In his foreword to Markings, W. H. Auden quotes Hammarskjöld as stating:
In our age, the road to holiness necessarily passes through the world of action.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America commemorates the life of Hammarskjöld as a renewer of society, on the anniversary of his death, 18 September.
In the 2016 film The Siege of Jadotville , depicting the events of the Congo Crisis,Hammarskjöld is played by fellow Swede Mikael Persbrandt.
The secretary-general of the United Nations is the chief administrative officer of the United Nations and head of the United Nations Secretariat, one of the six principal organs of the United Nations.
The Union Minière du Haut-Katanga, often abbreviated to Union Minière or UMHK, was an Anglo-Belgian mining company which operated in the copperbelt in the modern-day Democratic Republic of the Congo between 1906 and 1966.
The United Nations Operation in the Congo was a United Nations peacekeeping force deployed in the Republic of the Congo in 1960 in response to Congo Crisis. ONUC was the UN's first peacekeeping mission with significant military capabilities, and remains one of the largest UN operations in both scale and operational scope.
Knut Hjalmar Leonard Hammarskjöld was a Swedish politician, scholar, cabinet minister, Member of Parliament from 1923 to 1938, and Prime Minister of Sweden from 1914 to 1917.
The Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation, is a non-profit foundation based in Uppsala, Sweden that aims to strengthen policy on international cooperation, development and peacebuilding through its various programs.
Rishikesh Shah was a Nepalese writer, politician and human rights activist.
Transair Sweden AB was a Swedish charter airline that operated until 1981.
The Dag Hammarskjöld Memorial Crash Site marks the place of the plane crash in which Dag Hammarskjöld, the second and then-sitting Secretary-General of the United Nations was killed on 17 September 1961, while on a mission to the Léopoldville Congo Republic. The site is located 10 km from Ndola, in the Copperbelt Province of Zambia.
Vägmärken, published in 1963, is the only book by former UN secretary general, Dag Hammarskjöld. The journal was discovered after his death, with a covering letter to his literary executor, "a sort of White Book concerning my negotiations with myself - and with God." After the original Swedish version was published in 1963, the English translation came out in 1964, The translation was done by noted Swedish scholar Leif Sjöberg, and was refined by the poet W. H. Auden, who also wrote a foreword. This brought the book immediate literary notice, and even a front-page rave in The New York Times Book Review. It is highly regarded as a classic of contemporary spiritual literature.
The Dag Hammarskjöld Medal is a posthumous award given by the United Nations (UN) to military personnel, police, or civilians who lose their lives while serving in a United Nations peacekeeping operation. The medal is named after Dag Hammarskjöld, the second Secretary-General of the United Nations, who died in a plane crash in what is now Zambia in September 1961.
Åke Wilhelm Hjalmar Hammarskjöld was a Swedish lawyer and diplomat. He was the first Registrar of the Permanent Court of International Justice, serving from 1922 to 1936, when he was elected to the position of judge to the same court. He served in the latter position until his death.
The Katangese Air Force or Katangese Military Aviation was a short lived air force of the State of Katanga, established in 1960 under the command of Jan Zumbach. The force consisted predominantly of Belgian, French, and British mercenary pilots, operating a small number of helicopters and fixed wing aircraft.
On 18 September 1961, a DC-6 passenger aircraft of Transair Sweden, operating for the United Nations, crashed near Ndola, Northern Rhodesia. The crash resulted in the deaths of all people onboard including Dag Hammarskjöld, the second Secretary-General of the United Nations, and 15 others. Hammarskjöld had been en route to cease-fire negotiations with Moise Tshombe during the Congo Crisis. Three official inquiries failed to determine conclusively the cause of the crash, which set off a succession crisis at the United Nations.
Events from the year 1961 in Sweden
Per Bengt Magnus Ingemar Rösiö was a Swedish diplomat and author. He served as Ambassador to 17 countries and authored 20 books, mainly on diplomacy. He is more widely known however for having conducted the Swedish government's inquiry into the death of the UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld where he maintained that there was no foul play.
Roger Faulques was a French Army Colonel, a graduate of the École spéciale militaire de Saint-Cyr, a paratrooper officer of the French Foreign Legion, and a mercenary.
United Nations Secretary-General selection is the process of selecting the next Secretary-General of the United Nations. To be selected as Secretary-General, a candidate must receive the votes of at least 9 members of the United Nations Security Council, with no vetoes from permanent members. The Secretary-General is then appointed by a majority vote of the United Nations General Assembly.
A United Nations Secretary-General selection was held in 1953 after Trygve Lie announced his intention to resign. Lie had been at odds with the Soviet Union since the outbreak of the Korean War, and the negotiations for an armistice offered the opportunity for a new Secretary-General to turn the page. The British delegation dragged out the selection process as they campaigned for Lester Pearson of Canada, but he was vetoed by the Soviet Union. Other candidates fell short of a majority in the Security Council. After two weeks of deadlock, France proposed Dag Hammarskjöld of Sweden as a dark horse candidate. Hammarskjöld was acceptable to both superpowers and was selected Secretary-General for a 5-year term.
Cold Case Hammarskjöld is a 2019 documentary film by Danish film maker Mads Brügger. It depicts the death of Dag Hammarskjöld in the 1961 Ndola United Nations DC-6 crash and proposes a theory that a white supremacist organization attempted to spread HIV/AIDS among black Africans. The film investigates the possibility that Hammarskjöld's plane, which crashed in Northern Rhodesia, was shot down by Belgian-British mercenary pilot Jan van Risseghem. After unsuccessful attempts to conclusively prove that theory, the film veers off to investigate the mysterious mercenary organization South African Institute for Maritime Research (SAIMR), managing to contact two new witnesses that claim to have been involved with the organization. Parts of the movie are meta-cinematic, reflecting upon theatrical methods used and the true motivations of the filmmaker.
The Kingdom of Sweden became a member of the United Nations on November 19, 1946. Sweden has historically contributed with political leadership; politicians and diplomats such as Dag Hammarskjöld, Folke Bernadotte, Alva Myrdal and Margot Wallström and others have all played important roles in the development of the UN organization. Sweden is one of few member nations which meets or exceeds United Nations humanitarian aid spending target of 0.7% of GDP. In 2017, Swedish aid spending amounted to 1.4% of its GDP. The country has held a non-permanent seat in the Security Council four times, most recently between 2017 and 2018.
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