Sunday, 17 January 2021

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The Peacemaker

Dag Hammarskjöld, 1959. (Photo: UN/DPI)

13 September 2016—“I have no doubt that 40 years from now we shall be engaged in the same pursuit. How could we expect otherwise? World organisation is still a new adventure in human history” – Dag Hammarskjöld, May 1956. 

Dag Hammarskjöld, former Secretary-General (1953-1961), and Sweden’s most famous peacemaker lives on today through his spirit, as this year we mark the 55th anniversary of his death. 

Dag Hammarskjöld played an important role in the development of United Nations Peacekeeping in several international conflicts. Peacekeeping was born at a time when Cold War rivalries often paralyzed the Security Council. It was primarily focused on maintaining ceasefires and stabilizing situations on the ground, providing support for political efforts to resolve conflict by peaceful means. Most prominently, in 1960, when the civil war broke out in the Congo, he ensured UN Peacekeepers were sent there, and personally tried to mediate between the combatants. 

Hammarskjöld set the way for UN Peacekeeping missions that continue today to relieve those in crisis and make the world a more secure place. In 2001 Kofi Annan said, "His life and his death, his words and his actions, have done more to shape public expectations of the office, and indeed of the organization, than those of any other man or woman in its history.” In 1960, at the end of his tenure, Hammarskjöld was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. 

On 13 September 2016 his life and work will be commemorated with a wreath-laying at UNHQ in New York. 

Dag Hammarskjöld outside the UN building in New York, 1953. (Photo: UN/DPI)

His legacy is evident in UN Peacekeeping missions across the world, as well as in The Dag Hammarskjold Foundation, which aims to promote the values and norms he stood for. The foundation works in cooperation with UNPD Sweden to explore opportunities and challenges arising in the implementation of Agenda 2030, as we work together toward achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The mission of UNDP Sweden: 

To catalyse dialogue and action for a socially and economically just, environmentally sustainable, democratic and peaceful world. In the spirit of Dag Hammarskjöld we aim to generate new perspectives and ideas on global development and multilateral cooperation. We build bridges between actors and provide space for those most affected by inequalities and injustice.

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