In a February 1959 speech, Nikita Khrushchev indicated that the United
Nations should play a role in the Berlin situation, that Western troops
should be withdrawn from West Berlin, and that an agreement should be reached
making West Berlin a demilitarized city. In response to the ensuing debate
over the issue, Dag Hammarskjöld made a speech in Copenhagen: "Do
We Need the United Nations ?". This speech, delivered to the Students'
Association on May 2, 1959, presented the values and limitations of the
United Nations. Dag Hammarskjöld concluded his statement as follows:
|In this speech and in subsequent press conferences, Dag
Hammarskjöld rejected as constitutionally and politically impossible
a UN Force with garrison duties in West Berlin or with civilian administrative
functions requiring political decisions. What he thought could be possible
however was a limited
"United Nations presence" in relation to traffic
to and from Berlin, provided the four powers involved would agree to such
A summit meeting in Geneva ended on August 20 without an agreement being reached on the Berlin situation.
In March, Dag Hammarskjöld visited Nepal and took his famous photographs of Everest, Annapurna and other Himalayan peaks from an airplane. These photographs accompanied an article which he wrote for the National Geographic: "A New Look at Everest". This article was not published until January 1961.
After Guinea became independent and broke with the French Union, it lost French technical and economic assistance. Dag Hammarskjöld consulted and discussed with President Sekou Touré and the newly formed government, and with the specialized agencies, the cooperation and assistance that would be provided to Guinea by the United Nations. A special representative was appointed to plan for the activities of the UN family in Guinea. It was an unprecedented practical move to assist cooperation between a new African country, the UN family and donor Governments
In the introduction to his Annual Report to the General Assembly,
submitted on August 20, 1959, the Secretary-General devoted a large part
to a careful survey of United Nations procedures and practices, including
the special diplomatic and operational functions entrusted to him by the
legislative organs, as well as to the "good-offices" role he was called
upon to play on an increasingly regular basis:
The mandate of the United
Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) was
due to expire on June 30, 1960. At the 1958 General Asssemby, the United
States, as principal contributor to UNRWA's budget, had urged that, instead
of just renewing UNRWA's mandate, a system be sought that would accelerate
the rate at which refugees would become self-supporting. After a lengthty
debate on the issue, the Secretary-General was asked to look into UNRWA's
operations and its mandate and to make appropriate proposals. Dag Hammarskjöld
submitted his report (A/4121) on June 15, 1959 and recommended to the Assembly
the continuation and improvement of UNRWA. He stated that he was
Beginning with a consideration of the economic aspects, the Secretary-General said that the reintegration of the Palestine refugees into the productive life of the Near East presented problems similar to those faced in all cases of reintegration into economic life of a largely unemployed population.
The process would, for the immediate future at least, require capital imports sufficient to render possible an increase in national income and capital formation preferably more than proportional, but at least proportional to the increase in population. In the long run, with increasing revenues from oil in some parts of the region, the emphasis would switch from capital imports to investment of surpluses in the areas where reintegration took place.
The capital formation would, to a large extent, have to take the form of agricultural and industrial investments. The unemployed population represented by the Palestinian refugees should be regarded as an asset for the future; it was a reservoir of manpower which in the desirable general economic development would assist in the creation of higher standards for the whole population of the area.
The Secretary-General pointed out that the economic development, necessary to an integration of the refugees, required that various political difficulties hampering progress in the desirable direction should be overcome. One of them was the Palestine problem in its various aspects; another was the problem of inter-Arab relationships; a third was the problem of an Arab economic cooperation so framed as to make possible the exploitation of the natural resources of the area to the full benefit of all the countries in the area.
Regarding the Palestine problem, no progress towards a solution was in view. A solution, however, should have been sought in order to create conditions for a sound general economic development in the area, irrespective of its significance for the reintegration of the refugees. If the problem were solved sufficiently well to provide for such conditions, the proper political setting would probably ipso facto be created also for a solution of the refugee problem in its political aspects.
The Secretary-General also stated that, although the refugee problem was basically a human problem, reintegration would have to be freely accepted if it were to yield lasting results in the form of economic and political stability.
The Secretary-General concluded that the perspective was not a discouraging one, provided that the world was willing to assist the region in its economic development and provided, further, that - step by step and as economic conditions permitted - progress regarding the political and psychological obstacles was sought in a constructive spirit and with a sense of justice and realism.
At the General Assembly's fourteenth session , the question of aid to Palestine refugees was referred to the Assembly's Special Political Committee, which had before it the Secretary-General's proposals for the continuation of United Nations assistance to Palestine refugees, as well as the annual report of the Director of UNRWA.
|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.|