15 September 2020

As United Nations Celebrates 75 Years, Secretary-General Hails Dag Hammarskjöld’s ‘Fierce’ Commitment to Peace, Central Role in Shaping Organization

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks at the wreath‑laying ceremony to commemorate the fifty-ninth anniversary of the death of Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld, in New York today:

Today, we gather to remember Dag Hammarskjöld and pay tribute to his accomplishments.  On this fifty-ninth anniversary of his death, we celebrate his life.  Although he had a diverse diplomatic career and was a man of many interests, Dag Hammarskjöld’s name is forever linked to the United Nations.

Until his tragic passing, he led our Organization with courage and purpose, and we owe him a lot.

I welcome the General Assembly’s resolution in December 2019 to continue the inquiry into the causes of the plane crash.  We have a responsibility to all the victims and their loved ones to learn the truth of what happened, and I would like to reiterate my personal commitment to that quest.

As we mark the seventy-fifth anniversary of the United Nations, we must note again Hammarskjöld’s central role in shaping the United Nations into a peacemaking and peacekeeping organization.

And just as he himself exuded personality, humility, so did he stress that the Organization, while also not perfect, nonetheless embodied a fierce commitment to advancing peace, sustainable development and human rights.

More than 60 years ago, he spoke of our world as becoming ever more connected — a world in which, and I quote, “the weakness of one is the weakness of all, and the strength of one is indirectly the strength of all”.

Today, his words and vision are more timely than ever.  As the COVID-19 pandemic has upended our world, we have once again seen that international solidarity is no longer a choice, but an obligation.  That means working together to stop the spread of the virus.  Working together to find a vaccine that is accessible to all.  And just as importantly, working together to recover better, protect the most vulnerable and reduce the inequalities heightened by the pandemic.

As we look ahead to the new session of the General Assembly that begins today, may we build on his extraordinary legacy to address the challenges upon us, and together, build a more peaceful, just and sustainable world.

Thank you.  I would like to ask all of you please to join me in a moment of silence.

For information media. Not an official record.