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Hammarskjold, Dag (1905–61)

Subject History

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631209379.1999.x


Secretary-General (1953–61) of the united nations. The son of a former Conservative Prime Minister of Sweden, he read law at Uppsala and Stockholm universities and lectured in political economy before entering the civil service. From 1941–8 he was chairman of the Bank of Sweden, head of the Swedish Foreign Office in 1949 and a cabinet minister from 1951 to 1953, when he became Secretary-General of the UN. An intellectual, who showed considerable ability as an economist, lawyer, diplomat and administrator, he was passionately interested in art and literature. He took over a UN demoralized by the cold war and frequent use of the veto by the Soviet Union and restored its confidence, at the same time making the role of the Secretary-General more important by his personal diplomacy. Hammarskjold obtained the release of US prisoners in China in 1955, assembled a UN expeditionary force (UNEF) to cover the Anglo-French withdrawal in the SU EZ C RISIS and persuaded NASSER to accept it. UNEF stayed after the war was over and stopped guerrilla raids and Israeli reprisals in ‘preventive diplomacy’ which set an example for other peace-keeping exercises. Yet there were limits to UN influence. Hammarskjold's attempt to mediate during the hungarian rising of 1956 failed and the UN played no part in the Berlin crisis of 1958–62. His most difficult problem was the congo crisis (1960–5). Lumumba ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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