UN Headquarters

17 September 2019

Remarks at Wreath-Laying Ceremony to commemorate the 58th Anniversary of the death of Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld

António Guterres

Today we remember my predecessor, Dag Hammarskjöld, and pay tribute to his life and his supreme sacrifice.

Around the world, Dag Hammarskjöld is rightly revered for his achievements, his dedication and his values.

He shaped the United Nations into an active force in making and keeping peace. He skillfully created and seized opportunities.

He bravely put himself forward for the most difficult challenges.  

And he died while he was deeply involved in peace negotiations in the present-day Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Dag Hammarskjöld gave his life for peace.

Today, we recognize this as the ultimate act of courage.

In a few weeks, the General Assembly will consider a report by Chief Justice Mohamed Chande Othman, who I appointed in 2017 to examine the circumstances of Dag Hammarskjöld’s death.

I reiterate my personal commitment and recall our shared responsibility to pursue the truth, for Dag Hammarskjöld and those who died with him, their loved ones, the United Nations and the people we serve. 

I look forward to engaging with Member States on this.

One of Dag Hammarskjöld’s most important qualities was his ability to take a step back – and to project his vision into the future.

Sixty years ago, he spoke of the world becoming one world, in which the weakness of one was the weakness of all. He spoke of the imperative of global solidarity.

I believe he gained such insight through his deep immersion in culture of all kinds.

Dag Hammarskjöld’s writings are full of a spirit of curiosity and wonder. He sought first to understand, not to judge.

He embodied the values of tolerance, dialogue and mutual respect.

And he always put people first – passionately believing in their common dreams and goals.

As we look forward to the new session of the General Assembly, we pay tribute to Dag Hammarskjöld’s efforts to fulfil the pledge of the United Nations Charter.

We remember his extraordinary contribution and we resolve to build on his achievements.

Thank you.