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On 26 September, Dag Hammarskjöld accepts a second term. He tells the General Assembly: "Nobody, I think, can accept the position of Secretary-General, knowing what it means, except from a sense of duty. Nobody, however, can serve in that capacity without a sense of gratitude for a task as deeply rewarding as it is exacting".

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. 

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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| French| Russian| Spanish].

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| French| Russian| Spanish], 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:
"It is with a deep awareness of the significance of the responsibility which your decision imposes on me that I accept the appointment as Secretary-General of the United Nations for a second term.

When, in the spring of 1953, I was elected to my present office, I felt that it was my duty to respond to the unexpected call. What I could hope to do was to serve the aims of the United Nations to the limits of my capacity. My only claim now is to have tried to do so. Whether my service has met the needs of this difficult period in the life of the Organization and, indeed, the world, is for others to decide. Whether the direction I have tried to give to the development of the Office of the Secretary-General is the best one, will have to be judged in the perspective of time. Your decision is in these respects an encouragement for the future and a highly valued expression of confidence.

Nobody, I think, can accept the position of Secretary-General of the United Nations, knowing what it means, except from a sense of duty. Nobody, however, can serve in that capacity without a sense of gratitude for a task, as deeply rewarding as it is exacting, as perennially inspiring as, sometimes, it may seem discouraging.

There are many reasons for such gratitude. Let me mention first the privilege of working, on terms of mutual confidence, with all the governments and their representatives in order to find ways through the many problems arising in international cooperation.

Let me mention also the gratitude a Secretary-General owes to his collaborators in the Secretariat from the third basement to the thirty-eighth floor. He is fortunate to profit in his work from a team spirit which renders him unfailing support. He can count on dedication, often to thankless jobs, necessary for the success of the joint effort. He can trust that a challenge will be met with a deep sense of responsibility, broad knowledge, and a truly international spirit.

The significance of what this Organization stands for, as a venture in progress towards an international community living in peace under the laws of justice, transforms work for its aims from a duty into a privilege.

Political factors, yet to be overcome or outgrown, may put narrow limits on the progress possible at a particular juncture. We may believe that the United Nations needs basic reforms. We may even share the view held by some that its task ultimately will have to be taken over by a body with a different structure. However, we cannot doubt that the main direction of the work of the United Nations, as determined by the purposes and principles of the Charter, indicates the path which the world must follow in order to preserve the achievements of the past and to lay a basis for a happier future.

Therefore, service of the United Nations, guided by those principles is profoundly meaningful - whether it bears immediate fruit or not. If it paves one more inch of the road ahead, one is more than rewarded by what is achieved. This is true whatever setbacks may follow: if a mountain wall is once climbed, later failures do not undo the fact that it has been shown that it can be climbed. In this sense, every step forward in the pioneer effort of this Organization inevitably widens the scope for the fight for peace.

I have tried to present my views on the role of the United Nations in the Introduction to this year's Report to the General Assembly. Last year I explained in the Security Council how I feel that I should interpret the responsibilities of the Secretary-General. I have little to add here, and nothing to change.

In the multidimensional world of diplomacy, the Euclidean definition of the straight line as the shortest way between two points may not always hold true. For the Secretary-General, however it is the only possible one. This line, as traced by principles which are the law for him, might at times cross other lines in the intricate pattern of international political action. He must then be able to feel secure that, whatever the difficulties, they will not impair the trust of Member governments in his Office.

I do not believe that the Secretary-General should be asked to act, by the Member states, if no guidance for his action is to be found in either the Charter or in the decisions of the main organs of the United Nations; within the limits thus set, however, I believe it to be his duty to use his office and, indeed, the machinery of the Organization to its utmost capacity and to the full extent permitted at each stage by practical circumstances.

On the other hand, I believe that it is in keeping with the philosophy of the Charter that the Secretary-General should be expected to act also without such guidance, should this appear to him necessary in order to help in filling any vacuum that may appear in the systems which the Charter and traditional diplomacy provide for the safeguarding of peace and security.

The many who, together, form this Organization - peoples, governments, and individuals - share one great responsibility. Future generations may come to say of us that we never achieved what we set out to do. May they never be entitled to say that we failed because we lacked faith or permitted narrow self-interest to distort our efforts."

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.
May I say also that his high personal qualities, his friendliness, his patience in dealing with the most complicated Gordian knot, his quiet sense of humor even in the midst of battle, all this has added to the position he holds in our minds"

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. 
Events of 1953 Events of 1954 Events of 1955 Events of 1956 Events of 1957 Events of 1958 Events of 1959 Events of 1960 Events of 1961