6 July 2015

Secretary-General Conveys Report of Independent Expert Panel about Death in 1961 of Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld, 15 Companions

The following statement was issued today by the Spokesman for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:

The Secretary-General is pleased to announce that he has conveyed the report of the Independent Panel of Experts, which he appointed pursuant to General Assembly resolution 69/246, to the President of the General Assembly along with his own observations on the progress made and on the way forward in the search for the truth about the tragic death of the late Secretary-General, Dag Hammarskjöld, and of the 15 members of the party accompanying him.

The Secretary-General’s letter to the President, as well as the transmittal letter of the Head of the Panel, the report of the Panel and its appendices have been issued in General Assembly document A/70/132 and are thus available to all Member States and to the public at large.

The Panel has made significant progress in the search for the truth about the events of 17 and 18 September 1961.  The following are among the most salient findings in the Panel’s report.  The Panel found new information which upholds the original 1961 post-mortem examination of the 16 passengers on board SE-BDY.  The Panel also examined and assessed the probative value of new information relating to the various hypotheses of the cause or causes of the crash.  It found that the new information relating to hijacking and sabotage had nil or weak probative value.  It found new information relating to “crew fatigue”, which contributes to one or more of the hypotheses.  Most importantly, the Panel found new information, which it assessed as having moderate probative value, sufficient to further pursue aerial attack or other interference as a hypothesis of the possible cause of the crash.

Based on these findings, the Secretary-General is of the view that “a further inquiry or investigation would be necessary to finally establish the facts.  Such an inquiry or investigation would, however, be in a better position to reach a conclusive finding regarding the tragic events of 17 and 18 September 1961 with the benefit of the specific information requested by the Panel from the Member States concerned.”

The Secretary-General will pursue the pending requests for specific information made by the Panel to certain Member States, and urges all Member States to declassify or otherwise make available any information they may have in their possession related to the circumstances and conditions resulting in the deaths of Dag Hammarskjöld and the other members of the party accompanying him.  Accordingly, the Secretary-General recommends that the General Assembly remain seized of the matter and that it reiterate its encouragement to Member States to provide any relevant records or information.

The Secretary-General conveys his sincere gratitude to the Head and members of the Panel, Mohamed Chande Othman of the United Republic of Tanzania, Kerryn Macaulay of Australia and Henrik Larsen of Denmark, and to all those who extended their cooperation to the Panel, including the former Hammarskjöld Commissioners — and above all to the eyewitnesses who waited so long to be heard.

The Secretary-General is convinced that the report of the Panel constitutes an indispensable step towards fulfilling our shared responsibility to establish the facts after these many years.  This is our solemn duty to the distinguished former Secretary-General, Dag Hammarskjöld, to the other members of the party accompanying him and to their families.

For information media. Not an official record.