UNITED NATIONS. Remembering Dag Hammmarskjold


15 MAY 2013


In commemoration of 60 years since Dag Hammarskjold took office as U.N. Secretary-General, a gathering in the ECOSOC chamber reflected on his accomplishments. After hearing from two authors of his biography, the formidable Brian Urquhart, former Under-Secretary-General, and author and professor Roger Lipsey, a question-and-answer period allowed a number of old-timers who actually worked with the former Secretary-General to express their personal reflections.

For example, a Swedish assistant described how he was so pleasant, he always put her at ease while working. Another Swede, who is the wife of musician Stan Getz, mentioned how the Secretary-General would relax while visiting their home to listen to music for hours. Another staff member described how he would stay in the office long hours, often sleeping overnight, to pursue pending issues in the Security Council.

Dag Hammarskjold's maiden trip to China before he joined the U.N. to bring back U.S. pilots, was described in detail, particularly that the release took place on his birthday. Toward the end of the gathering, a retired staffer took the microphone to ask whether in these days of diminishing U.N. power, would the "powers that be" allow someone like Dag Hammarskjold to actually be selected? A very good question.