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  • Seventeen newly independent States are admitted to the United Nations. On a tour of Africa to plan for international cooperation, Dag Hammarskjöld visits 21 countries and territories.

  • In response to a request from the Congo, the Security Council authorizes Dag Hammarskjöld to provide military and technical assistance to the country. The first units of the United Nations Operation in the Congo (ONUC) are deployed within 48 hours.
  • From 18 December 1959 to 31 January 1960, the Secretary-General visited 21 countries and territories in Africa. These visits helped him develop his vision for international cooperation in Africa, as mandated by the General Assembly. In resolutions adopted at the 14th session he, and the executive heads of specialized agencies, were requested to give urgent and sympathetic consideration to requests from both the former trust territories and other newly-independent states for the provision of technical aid. During a press conference held after his return, Dag Hammarskjöld explained his reasons for endorsing strongly the principle of channelling economic aid to Africa through the United Nations rather than through bilateral aid programmes: 
    "The billions put up would be better billions in terms of peace and world progress if they were put up in a form which was more adjusted to the real political needs of the receiving countries... Eight hundred thousand dollars does not mean the same as 80 million dollars from the point of view of investment, but from the point of view of what I call moral support it may be used in such a way as to carry greater weight."

    (Press Conference transcript, 4 February 1960)

    On 14 April, the Secretary-General made a statement to the Economic and Social Council on assistance to Former Trust Territories and Other Newly Independent States. Both the Council and the General Assembly, at its 15th session, adopted proposals along the lines suggested by the Secretary-General, aimed at increasing the scope of assistance provided by the United Nations and the specialized agencies through the technical assistance programmes, OPEX, and a Special Fund. 

    On 1 May, Dag Hammarskjöld delivered a speech at the dedication ceremonies of the new  buildings of the University of Chicago Law School, "The Development of a  Constitutional Framework for International Cooperation".

    The Secretary-General concluded his speech with the following words:
    "Working at the edge of the development of human society is to work on the brink of the unknown. Much of what is done will one day prove to have been of little avail. That is no excuse for the failure to act in accordance with our best understanding, in recognition of its limits but with faith in the ultimate result of the creative evolution in which it is our privilege to cooperate."

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    At a press conference held on 5 May, Dag Hammarskjöld indicated that the Chicago speech could be considered as representing his "creed" or "confession of faith" and stated: 
    "I made an attempt there to set out my philosophy regarding the United Nations and the work we are all of us pursuing... within the framework of the United Nations."

    The issue of the Congo dominated the period from July 1960 to September 1961. At the same time the Soviet Union started a campaign to force Dag Hammarskjöld's resignation and to replace the office of the Secretary-General by a three-man directorate with a built-in veto - the "troika".

    The Belgian Congo was one of the largest and the richest in resources of the European colonies in Africa to gain independence in 1960. The first legislative elections took place in May and the first central government took office one week before independence, with Joseph Kasa-Vubu as President and Patrice Lumumba as Prime Minister. A high-level Secretariat Mission was sent to Leopoldville for the Independence Day ceremonies on 30 June and stayed on to discuss plans for UN technical assistance. 

    On July 5, as a result of the refusal by the Belgian commander to start the Africanization of the officers' corps of the army, a series of mutinies took place in garrisons all over the country. While the President and Prime Minister were trying to negotiate with the mutineers, the Belgian government decided that military intervention had become necessary. 

    On July 10, Belgian paratroops were sent to Elisabethville, the capital of Katanga province, to control the situation and protect Belgian civilians. Katanga, the wealthiest province of the Congo, home of the Union Minière du Haut Katanga, was headed by Moïse Tshombé. On 11 July, Mr. Tshombé, who had requested the Belgian paratroops, proclaimed the independence of Katanga. 

    On 12 July, President Kasa-Vubu and Prime Minister Lumumba sent a cable to the Secretary-General asking "urgent dispatch" of United Nations military assistance to respond to the Belgian action. The Secretary-General addressed the Security Council at a night meeting on 13 July (S/PV.853) [Chinese| French| Spanish] and asked the Council to act "with utmost speed" on the request. 

    At the same meeting, the Security Council adopted resolution 143 (1960) [Chinese|French| Russian|Spanish], by which it called upon the Government of Belgium to withdraw its troops from the territory of the Congo. The resolution authorized the Secretary-General to take the necessary steps, in consultation with the Congolese Government, to provide that Government with the necessary military assistance until it felt that, through its efforts with the technical assistance of the United Nations, the national security forces were able to meet their tasks fully. Following Security Council actions, the United Nations Force in the Congo (ONUC) was established. In order to carry out these tasks, the Secretary-General set up a United Nations Force which at its peak strength numbered nearly 20,000. 

    The United Nations soldiers were instructed officially that they were members of a peace force, not a fighting force, that they had been asked to come in response to an appeal from the Congolese Government, that their task was to help in restoring order and calm in a troubled country and that they should give protection against acts of violence to all people, Africans and Europeans alike. They were also told that although they carried arms, they were to use them only in self-defence; they were in the Congo to help everyone and to harm no one. 

    The first troops of the United Nations Force arrived at Leopoldville on the evening of 15 July and were deployed the next morning. Their presence had an immediate calming effect in an extremely tense situation. As more United Nations troops were flown into the Congo, they were deployed in different areas, where ONUC immediately began its task of maintaining law and order and protecting the local population, and initiated discussions with the Belgian representative to bring about the withdrawal of Belgian troops at an early date.

    In spite of the rapid deployment of the Force, the Congolese Government was not satisfied. On 17 July, the President and the Prime Minister addressed an ultimatum to the Secretary-General, warning that if the Belgian forces were not completely withdrawn within 48 hours, they would request troops from the Soviet Union. The Secretary-General brought the matter before the Security Council, which on July 22 adopted unanimously resolution 145 (1960) [Chinese| French| Russian| Spanish], commended the action taken by the Secretary-General and called upon Belgium to speed up the withdrawal of its troops. 

    ONUC brought about the complete withdrawal of the Belgian troops from Leopoldville and the surrounding area on 23 July, and from the whole of the Congo, except Katanga and the two bases, by the beginning of August. Dag Hammarskjöld visited Leopoldville from 26 to 29 July and reported to the Security Council on deployment of the UN Force. Then, following the adoption on 9 August of Security Council resolution 146 (1960) [Chinese| French| Russian| Spanish], calling upon Belgium immediately to withdraw its troops from Katanga, he left on 10 August for a second trip to the Congo. He had decided to go to Elisabethville to discuss directly with Mr. Tshombé the deployment of the UN troops in Katanga. He personnally achieved the peaceful entrance of the UN Force in Katanga by bringing with him for his talks with Mr. Tshombé two companies of the Swedish battalion. Having received the pledge of non-interference in his dispute with the central government, Mr. Tshombé accepted deployment of the Force. 

    The entry of the United Nations troops into Katanga on 12 August set off a process of withdrawal of Belgian troops from the province, which was completed by the beginning of September. At that time, Belgian troops were also withdrawn from the military bases of Kamina and Kitona, which were taken over by ONUC. Thus, despite difficult circumstances, ONUC brought about the withdrawal of Belgian troops from the whole of the Congo within six weeks. (The Blue Helmets: a Review of United Nations Peace-keeping, p.175-181)

    Prime Minister Lumumba, dissatisfied with Dag Hammarskjöld's refusal to use UN troops to subdue the insurrection in Katanga, decided to attempt an invasion of Katanga on his own and turned to the Soviet Union for help. The invasion attempt never reached Katanga but led to dissension within the Central Government, the collapse of the Central Govenment, and eventually to Patrice Lumumba's arrest in December. *

    The Secretary-General's role in the Congo operation came under severe attack from the Soviet Union, peaking on 3 October when Nikita Khrushchev asked for his resignation. Dag Hammarskjöld responded the same day during a plenary meeting of the General Assembly (A/PV.883) [Chinese| French| Russian| Spanish]: 
    " The head of the Soviet delegation to the General Assembly... said, among other things, that the present Secretary-General has always been biased against socialist countries, that he has used the United Nations to support the colonial forces fighting the Congolese Government and Parliament in order to impose "a new yoke on the Congo"; and finally, that if I myself cannot muster the courage to resign, in, let us say, a chivalrous way, we [the Soviet Union] shall draw the inevitable conclusions from the situation". In support of his challenge the representative of the Soviet Union said that there is no room for a man who has, "violated the elementary principles of justice in such an important post as that of Secretary-General".... I have no reason to defend myself or my colleagues against the accusations and judgements to which you have listened. Let me say only this: that you, all of you are the judges. No single party can claim that authority... I said the other day that I would not wish to continue to serve as Secretary-General one day longer than such continued service was considered to be in the best interests of the Organization. The statement this morning seems to indicate that the Soviet Union finds it impossible to work with the present Secretary-General. This may seem to provide a strong reason why I should resign. However, the Soviet Union has also made it clear that if the present Secretary-General were to resign now, it would not wish to elect a new incumbent but insist on an arrangement which - and this is my firm conviction based on broad experience - would make it impossible to maintain an effective executive. By resigning I would, therefore at the present difficult and dangerous juncture throw the Organization to the winds. I have no right to do so because I have a responsibility to all those Member States for which the Organization is of decisive importance - a responsibility which overrides all other considerations. It is not the Soviet Union or indeed any other Big Power who need the United Nations for their protection: it is all the others. In this sense, the Organization is first of all their Organization, and I deeply believe in the wisdom with which they will be able to use it and guide it. I shall remain in my post during the term of my office as a servant of the Organization in the interest of all those other nations, as long as they wish me to do so. In this context the representative of the Soviet Union spoke of courage. It is very easy to resign. It is not so easy to stay on. It is very easy to bow to the wishes of a Big Power. It is another matter to resist. As is well known to all members of this Assembly, I have done so before on many occasions and in many directions. If it is the wish of those nations who see in the Organization their best protection in the present world, I shall now do so again."

    As noted by Cordier and Foote, the statement "evoked a tremendous standing ovation from the overwhelming majority of delegates that continued for several minutes".

    On 24 October, on the occasion of United Nations Day, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony was played in its entirety. Dag Hammarskjöld made what was to be the last of his annual talks: statement 

    * For additional information on the Congo and ONUC for 1960, see UN Yearbook 1960.

    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.
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