At the start of the new year, the Secretary-General, in a report [Chinese|French| Russian|Spanish] to the General Assembly suggested that the responsibilities given to him in earlier resolutions for investigating the situation in Hungary might now be transferred to a special ad hoc committee of the Assembly. With 59 members in support, General Assembly resolution 1132 (XI) [Chinese| French| Russian| Spanish] was passed and the Special Committee on the Problem of Hungary was established on 10 January.
On the very same day, the Agreement between the United Nations and the Government of Egypt regarding the Clearance of the Suez Canal (A/3492) [Chinese| French| Russian| Spanish] was concluded. Although differences over the regime of the Suez Canal were still pending, the UN did assume responsibility, at the request of the General Assembly, and upon the invitation of the Government of Egypt, to assist in reopening it.
After the withdrawal of French and British forces, the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) was stationed on the Egyptian-Israel Armistice Demarcation Line, in accordance with General Assembly resolution 1125 (XI) of 2 February 1957 [Chinese| French| Russian| Spanish].
Under the flag of the United Nations, the international clearance operation was undertaken by a salvage team from countries not involved in the conflict. This operation was the first undertaking of its kind attempted by a world organization. The plan provided for: clearance of obstructions from channels, ports and harbors; rehabilitation of maintenance workshops; restoration of navigational lighting and telecommunication services; essential dredging; and the availability of operational craft for the handling of convoys.
|On 10 April 1957, a little more than three months after
it began, well ahead of schedule and at much less cost than originally
anticipated (US$ 8,376,042.87), the Suez Canal was reopened to full traffic.
A special report on this operation was presented
to the General Assembly on 14 December [Chinese|
During the debate [Chinese|French| Russian|Spanish], profuse congratulations were given to the Secretary-General and all those whose cooperation had contributed to its success. To ensure that advances made by contributor countries to meet the costs of the operations be reimbursed promptly, the Assembly adopted resolution 1212(XII) [Chinese| French| Russian| Spanish] levying a three percent surcharge on all Canal traffic the same day.
The United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF), despite the fact that it had been created in a few days and without precedents, proved its value even as a temporary force with a limited mandate. Mr. Hammarskjöld instructed the Secretariat to begin a careful study and analysis of the UNEF experience in order to give the United Nations a sound foundation, "should the Organization wish to build an agreed standby plan for a United Nations peace force that could be activated on short notice in future emergencies to serve in similar ways".
In October, Secretary-General presented a second report [Chinese| French| Russian| Spanish] to the General Assembly on the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF). It was mainly a historical and descriptive account of developments since his March report and was drafted in such a manner as to play down or avoid raising questions likely to provoke controversy. Paragraphs on the budget reflect the beginnings of the financial difficulties that have plagued United Nations peace-keeping operations ever since and, in cumulative effect over the years, came to threaten the solvency of the Organization itself.
On other issues concerning the Middle East, there was little, if any, progress. The Secretary-General noted, however, that the presence of UNEF helped to maintain a quiet setting which would hopefully create a favorable environment for future progress in what he considered to be two of the Organization's main responsibilities: restoration of the armistice agreements and constructive help to the refugees.
Although the question of moral responsibility was a recurring theme in his messages and writings, the Secretary-General made it clear, in an extraordinary exchange at a press conference held in August with the noted Danish journalist, Peter Freuchen, what the United Nations should or could do about the underlying differences in the hearts and in the souls of men. Mr. Hammarskjöld said that a distinction must be made between the Officer of the Organization and the man. The Officer of the Organization should not and could not be a preacher of moralism but the man had the duty of every man to fight against those very tendencies that could impede a spirit of friendship and brotherhood among nations.
On 26 September, at a meeting held in private, the Security Council unanimously decided to recommend to the General Assembly that Mr. Hammarskjöld be appointed as Secretary-General of the United Nations for a new five-year term of office. The same day, in a letter [Chinese| French| Russian| Spanish], the President of the Security Council informed the President of the General Assembly of the Council's recommendation. He also addressed a letter to Mr. Hammarskjöld conveying to him the decision of the Council, expressing sincere appreciation of the able and devoted manner in which he had been carrying out the great responsibilities entrusted to him under the Charter, and earnestly expressing the hope that he would agree to serve the United Nations as its Secretary-General for a second term, should the General Assembly proceed with re-appointment following the Council's recommendation.
That afternoon, upon receipt of the letter, the General Assembly interrupted
its annual general debate to vote on the recommendation. By secret ballot,
it was unanimously decided to appoint him for a new five-year term of office.
In his acceptance speech [Chinese|
Dag Hammarskjöld spoke about the privileges and responsibilities of
the position and concluded with his reaffirmation of the understanding
of the responsibilities of his office which he had given to the Security
Council at the time of the Suez and Hungarian crises almost eleven months
before, and further defined these in terms that clearly would give scope
for independent initiatives in support of peace:
After this speech, representatives of the major powers and spokesmen
for every group of the smaller Member states came to the rostrum to express
their confidence and pledge their support. The Foreign Minister of Denmark,
Jens Otto Krag, expressed the general sentiment as follows: "Dealing
always with the most difficult and controversial matters, and often walking
untrodden paths and hoping against hope, Mr. Dag Hammarskjöld has
succeeded in finding solutions where none seemed to be in sight. But even
more, in so doing he has won our admiration and respect and, I might almost
say, a universal confidence very rarely enjoyed by any man and certainly
unique in the field of politics.
Since his first year in office, Mr. Hammarskjöld worked towards strengthening organized international cooperation in the use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes. These efforts culminated in October at the opening meeting of the first session of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). In his message on this occasion, Mr. Hammarskjöld reflected on the great importance and high hopes he attached to the creation and future potential of the newest member of the United Nations family, remarking that "in a longer perspective it is clear that the program of this agency ought soon to become one of the most extensive and important of the programs undertaken through the United Nations family of agencies."
On 14 December [Chinese| French| Russian| Spanish], the General Assembly unanimously decided, by resolution 1229(XII) [Chinese| French| Russian| Spanish], that the terms of appointment for the Secretary-General's second term of office should be the same as for his first term.
At the end of the year, the Meditation Room, to which Dag Hammarskjöld gave a great deal of thought and personal attention was opened. Although only a small space off the public lobby of the General Assembly had been set aside for the purpose, it was Hammarskjöld who found solutions to the problems of creating in this small space a room of dignity and meaning.
After a trip to Sweden, the Secretary-General flew to Gaza to spend Christmas with the soldiers of UNEF.
|Unless otherwise noted, the information included in these pages is based on the "Public Papers of the Secretaries-General of the United Nations: Volumes II-V: Dag Hammarskjöld", selected and edited with commentary by Andrew W.Cordier and Wilder Foote, Columbia University Press, 1974-1975.|