Subsequent to the letter of resignation submitted by Trygve Lie, the
first Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Security Council met
in March 1953 to consider a replacement. The permanent members were unable
to reach a compromise until 31 March when the name of the Swedish
Minister of State, Dag Hammarskjöld was formally proposed by Ambassador
Henri Hoppenot of France and seconded by Ambassador Andrei Vishinsky of
Russia. The recommendation was adopted by 10 votes to none, with China
abstaining. Such secrecy had been maintained throughout that even Mr. Hammarskjöld
was unaware his name had been put forward. Noting that the absence of any
prior consultation could result in Mr. Hammarskjöld's refusal of the
nomination, the members urged the President of the Security Council to
send the following cablegram:
Mr. Hammarskjöld was indeed stunned when he received the news.
He had neither the wish nor the ambition to be Secretary-General of the
United Nations, but was able to put aside his personal doubts and private
concerns. He, nevertheless, underlined his feelings of inadequacy
for the position in his acceptance cablegram to the Security Council:
|On 7 April 1953, the General Assembly voted by secret ballot,
and adopted by 57 votes to 1, with 1 abstention, the recommendation
of the Security Council to appoint Mr. Dag Hammarskjöld, as the second
Secretary-General of the United Nations (423rd
plenary meeting) [Chinese
When he arrived in New York on 9 April, he was met at the airport by
Trygve Lie, who told him he was about to take over:
In a prepared statement to the press, Mr. Hammarskjöld introduced
himself and outlined the beliefs that were to guide his conduct in succeeding
years. An understanding of these beliefs is key to understanding both Hammarskjöld
the man, and the evolution of his role as Secretary-General.
During the year, the Secretary-General considered the dichotomy between his political philosophy of "quiet diplomacy", and his public responsibility to educate the press and the public about the Organization and its goals - and, indeed its Secretary-General - by holding press conferences. The press found that he gave them much invaluable background and many revealing insights at these conferences and the transcripts are considered by some to be the most historically valuable of the public papers left behind .
In May 1953, Mr. Hammarskjöld made his first speech to the staff
in which he remarked:
Emphasizing his parallel belief that integrity, complete impartiality,
and independence from any authority outside the United Nations in the performance
of their duties are vital requisites for staff members, Mr. Hammarskjöld
said the following to the European Office Staff in Geneva:
General Assembly resolution 708 (VII), [Chinese | French| Russian| Spanish] combined with a personal belief in its importance, prompted Mr. Hammarskjöld to conduct a careful review of the administrative system of the Organization and the rules applying to staff in its employ. Noting ambiguities and omissions in the staff regulations, he drafted amendments to the Staff Regulations and revisions of certain Articles in the Statute of the Administrative Tribunal.
Later in the year, when he presented the General Assembly with his Report on the Organization of the Secretariat, he outlined a plan for a more efficient and economical structure and underlined the necessity to give the Secretary-General certain clearly expressed powers. He also recommended the establishment of a system of checks and balances on the office to provide fuller protection for the staff from arbitrary decisions.
Concerning the question of the Secretariat's departments at Headquarters, his stated goals were to determine if ongoing activities continued to have relevance, whether tasks should be reshuffled, and if all activities were "mutually supporting" common objectives. Based on a survey conducted by senior officials, and noting that the "magnitude" of the Department of Conference and General Services led to "administrative difficulties", he proposed that General Services be removed from it and designated a separate Office. He also proposed to coordinate the Departments of Economic and Social Affairs into one but to leave intact the Departments of Political and Security Council Affairs, the Department of Trusteeship and Information from Non-Self-Governing Territories, and the Department of Public Information. Yet, despite its need for close coordination with the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Mr. Hammarskjöld decided to leave the Technical Assistance Administration as an independent unit, under his direct supervision, because of its widespread operations in Member and non-Member countries, and its working relations with other technical assistance programmes, whether inside or outside the family of the United Nations. Additionally, he proposed that three other departments and bureaus (Legal, Personnel and Finance) be newly-designated as Offices with the latter being renamed completely as Office of the Comptroller; that the Library be transferred from his Office to the Department of Conference Services; and that the Field Service be transferred to the Office of General Services.
He also proposed changes at the uppermost levels. The original structure had two top echelons: Assistant Secretaries-General and Principal Directors. The roles of the Assistant Secretaries-General were to head their departments and, at the same time, serve the Secretary-General in a "representative capacity" with individual Member countries and groups of countries. Once permanent missions for the member countries were established at Headquarters, the Secretary-General's opportunities to interact with the various governments increased and the representative capacity of the Assistant Secretaries-General was no longer required. Noting that any remaining political responsibilities at this level would be exercised solely on the personal responsibility of the Secretary-General, he replaced the two categories with one: Under Secretaries-General. He reserved the right however of appointing, in exceptional circumstances Deputy Under-Secretaries within a Department and or Under-Secretaries without portfolio serving as advisers to him on special questions.
In a speech before the Foreign Policy Association, 21 October 1953, New Diplomatic Techniques in a New World
Mr. Hammarskjöld spoke in an uncannily prescient way of the effect
of technological innovations on communication and the media:
On 25 October 1953, Dag Hammarskjöld made the first of what were to become annual remarks during the intermission of the United Nations Day Concert. The Secretary-General took a great interest in these concerts and was actively involved in their planning. He often noted that the basic harmony of the universe could be expressed best through the universal language of music.
In a public address in London on 17 December, Mr. Hammarskjöld
summed up the work of the 8th General Assembly by saying that:
The Cold War continued to be an overriding political issue and was
He went on to say that the restraint shown in these and other cases
In the same speech, he made special note of President Eisenhower's
for Peace Proposal" (A/PV.470 p. 450-452)
delivered 7 days earlier to the General Assembly . He remarked that
In his final address of the year, broadcast over United Nations Radio
on 31 December 1953, Mr. Hammarskjöld said:
|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.|