Expert concludes review of new information on death of former UN chief Dag Hammarskjöld

Portrait of former Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld. UN Photo/JO (file)

9 August 2017 – The United Nations today received an expert report that summarizes the new information made available by Member States and other sources and assesses whether and to what degree that information helps to establish the conditions and circumstances resulting in the tragic deaths of former Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld and 15 others traveling with him.

Mr. Hammarskjöld served as the top UN official from April 1953 until his death at the age of 56 in a plane crash in Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia, along with 15 others in September 1961.

According to an information note issued by the Office of the UN Spokesperson, the report, presented by Mohamed Chande Othman, former Chief Justice of Tanzania, to Secretary-General António Guterres, sets out findings, conclusions and recommendations.

Mr. Othman was appointed by Mr. Guterres in February 2017 and is familiar with this matter from his role as Chair of the 2015 Independent Panel of Experts, which concluded, among other things, that there was significant new information with sufficient probative value to further pursue aerial attack or other interference as a hypothesis of the possible cause of the crash.

Since Mr. Othman's appointment, the UN chief has urged Member States to disclose, declassify or allow access to information that they may have regarding the tragic 1961 plane crash.

Mr. Othman's new mandate was to review potential new information, assess its probative value and determine the scope that any further investigation should take. The mandate also allows him, if possible, to draw conclusions from the investigations already conducted, including by the 2015 Independent Panel of Experts and the 2013 Hammarskjöld Commission.

The Secretary-General will transmit Mr. Othman's report to the General Assembly before the end of its seventy-first session and report on progress made.


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