15 July 2007

A team of U.N.-accredited correspondents are intensifying their efforts to consolidate the Dag Hammarskjold Scholarship Funds. They are refreshing the content and sharpening the focus on specific professional tasks that selected fellows could accomplish. Above all, they intend to intensify their fundraising target in order to deliver a more impressive agenda. Their determination inspires us to extend unflinching support.

Chaired by Evelyn Leopold (Reuters), the 2007 Board of Directors is composed of Judith Aita (The Washington File), Betsy Pisik (The Washington Times), Peter Heinlein (Voice of America). Other members include: Ricardo Alday (Mexican News Agency), Talal Al-Haj (Al Arabiya TV), Iftikhar Ali (Associated Press of Pakistan), Herve Couturier (Agence France-Presse), Maggie Farley (The Los Angeles Times), Naomi Farrell (World Union Press), Shogo Kawakita (Kyodo News), Edith Lederer (Associated Press), Abdullahi Shuaibu (News Agency of Nigeria), and Sylviane Zehil (L'Orient Le Jour).

Dag Hammarskjold was in all respects a remarkable man, who lived a remarkable life, and left a remarkable legacy. His death was felt most profoundly at the United Nations and most specifically by the press corps. Desiring to create a fitting legacy to honor his spirit and memory, a group of U.N. journalists created the Dag Hammarskjold Scholarship Fund for Journalists.

The Scholarship Fund has been receiving increased support over the years. We hope that on 25 October 2007, the international community will demonstrate ever greater commitment to a unique program.

By the force of his personality and the depth of his convictions, Dag Hammarskjold shaped the United Nations into a truly international force for peace, justice, and progress.

The Dag Hammarskjold Scholarship Fund for Journalists is proud to continue its "living memorial" by awarding Dag Hammarskjold Fellowships to promising young journalists from developing countries so that they may cover the deliberations at the United Nations and learn more about its history, mandate and mission.

A sensitive, highly-principled and deeply cultured man, Dag Hammarskjold possessed the all-too-rare gift of being able to transcend the superficial differences that needlessly divide nations and peoples. More importantly, with his vast diplomatic experience, self-evident sincerity, and unimpeachable reputation for integrity, he was able to convince others to do likewise. By focusing on their shared membership in a worldwide human family, he helped strangers to become friends, and enemies to find common ground for peace.

In short, Dag Hammarskjold was a master at building bridges of understanding, and a superb facilitator of meaningful dialogue. He was a man with a powerful and compelling vision -- a vision of steadily advancing peace and progress, firmly rooted in equality of opportunity and universal respect for human dignity unfettered by geographical boundaries or ideological constraints.

As Secretary-General of the U.N., he championed many causes, but none more fervently than that of providing aid and assistance to developing nations. It was that commitment that led Dag Hammarskjold to the Congo in September 1961, and to a final rendezvous with a destiny that he did not deserve.

The Fund has focused its efforts on soliciting Fellowship applications from working journalists from the developing countries of Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America. The Fellowship covers a several-months stay in New York and includes air travel, accommodations, per diem, and medical insurance.

The Dag Hammarskjold Fellowship Program has become increasingly important over the decades because fewer and fewer news organizations in developing countries can afford to maintain reporters in New York. The Fellowship Program has enabled the selected reporters to have direct exposure to the proceedings of the United Nations and the opportunity to report the news as they see it; no editorial restrictions are imposed on their work.

The Fund is guided in its efforts by an Honorary Advisory Council comprised of Permanent Representatives to the United Nations and other individuals who believe in the merit and objectives of the Fellowship Program. Officers and members of the Board of Directors, all of whom are journalists accredited to the United Nations, volunteer their time and energy to administer the organization. We salute that commitment and urge everyone to extend support and, if possible, raise the funds necessary to make it an ever better venture.

For further details, the Fund's website is at: www.unjournalismfellowship.org