Dag Hammarskjold - Some Reminiscence and His Link With Nepal.

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The month of September is probably the most coined month in the world as this ninth month of calendar has brought up many events of far reaching historical consequences touching future successive generations with effects on global peace, security, defense and diplomacy mostly with undesired impact on the humanity  specially so during the second half of the past century and first decade of 21 century.


These events were mainly originated in the European Continent sparking all over the world. Germany’s invasion on Poland on the 1st September 1939, the declaration of war on Germany by Britain and France on the 3rd September same year germinating the seeds for the World War Second (1939-1944)and the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers of New York and Pentagon in the Washington DC are some among many examples that look place in September what to talk of the Black Septembers that has different perspectives.


It was also the very month of September in which the life of a great world statesman and peace maker Dag Hammarskjold, the then United Nations secretary general had come to an end in a mysterious air crash in Zambia, the then Rhodesia during the ill fated night 17-18 September 1961 that too, sadly on the eve of convening annual General Assembly of the U. N. in New York which begins from the third Tuesday of every September and runs for three months. This world body that officially got birth on 24th October 1945 after the end of Second World War to protect and promote of peace and security round the globe commences in September to deliberate political, economic, social and other humanitarian issues with effects on world peace and security  to save the world from the scourge of such world wars that had brought untold sorrow twice to the mankind during the first half of 20th century. Dag Hammarskjold died in one of his such quests for peace and security missions as an incumbent UN secretary general in Africa.


Amongst the nine UN secretaries- general from its inception to date Dag Hammarskjold most revered and thus  remains the most talked about personality, a lot are discussed concerning  his thoughts and steps he had taken in his official capacity as a fiercely independent diplomat within the provisions and spirit of the UN Charters , many books  are written on and about him by different authors highlighting his wisdom  and vision on world  peace and security, spirituality, humanity and actions  initiated and deeds done by him as the chief of this world organization.  A number of books by renowned authors  like Roger Lipsey’s book  on  “ Hammarskjold- A Life”, Susan Williams’ book on “ Who killed Dag  Hammarskjold ?” Brian Urquhart’s book on “ Hammarskjold”, Rajehswar  Dayal’s book on “ A Life of Our Time- Dag Hammarskjold” and Paul R. Nelson’s book on “ Courage of Faith- Dag Hammarskjold” are some among many books that amply  reflect various aspects on Hammarskjold’s life and contributions in the  world peace and  security for the sake of humanity while many other writers have authored different books with different focus on Dag’s time responsive personality portraying him as a statesman , a renowned diplomat, top negotiator, poet, philosopher  and spiritualist. Among the many books on Hammarskjold, the British scholar Susan William’s  book entitled ‘” Who Killed Dag Hammarskjold? 


The UN, the cold war and the White Supremacy in Africa “ published in 2012 gained a great momentum with regards to the mysterious air crash raising additional questions whether Hammarskjold’s plane  crash  was an accident or that was intentionally shot down by a second aircraft killing  Hammarskjold and other 15 on board including the crew.


Hammarskjold’s own book “ Markings” posthumously published by Leif Belfrage, one of close associates of Dag and also Sweden’s permanent under secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with foreword by W.H. Auden, a noted British poet, in mid sixties of past century has earned an immortal name to Hammarskjold from spiritualistic point of view, too. Though The Markings came up in 1963 Dag’s spiritualistic philosophy was already reflected through his well hailed radio interview that he had given to Edward R. Murrow, an eminent American broadcast journalist who had earned great name throughout the world during his career with Columbia Broadcast System (CBS) specially in covering the news during the Second World War.


Dag’s image as an extraordinary diplomat is never equaled neither by predecessor nor by his other successors as he was in possession of multidimensional personality. Numerous discussions and studies on Hammarskjold  are  attributed to mainly on two grounds i.e. that he died on way to negotiation for peace while  being in the post of UN SG and most importantly he was tremendously a dynamic personality with distinct way of thinking and doing to the cause of  peace, security and development to benefit mankind through his  tactic diplomacy.


That Dag would stand by solution to any burning issue acceptable to many world stake holders could amply be seen through mostly coined phrase “Leave it to Dag” in the 38thfloor the  office of UN SG. In the words of John F. Kennedy, the US president at the time of Hammarskjold’s death in 1961, “I realize now that in comparison to him, I am a small man. He was the greatest statesman of our century” further eulogizing him for his dedication to the cause of peace, his untiring labor to achieve it,his courage under attack, willingness to accept all responsibility in trying to strengthen the United Nations to make it more effective instrument. In another reference he had remarked Dag’s death as organization’s death. In contrast Kennedy’s then USSR counterpart *** president Nikita Khrushchev blaming   Hammarskjold for his handling the Kalanga, Congo conflict had called for his resignation from the post to which Dag had responded “  It is very easy to bow to the  wish of a big power, it is another matter to resist” .


Dag’s role as a mediator during the Suez Crisis and capture of a US reconnaissance plane by the USSR had established him as a great negotiator in 1960.The UN peace keeping force that Dag Hammarskjold established in 1957-58 as proposed by the then minister for external affairs of Canada Lester B Pearson that went on getting a great leap forward from that time onwards to date clearly manifest how farsighted he was in   initiating an instrument for maintenance of peace and order in the world.


Dag Hammarskjold and Nepal


Nepal was admitted to this world body as its member during the incumbency of Dag Hammarskjold on 14 December 1955 due to the veto imposed by the USSR in the earlier fray .The first Nepalese permanent representative to the UN Rishikesh Shah had more frequency of interface with Dag . Shah had gained diplomatic recognition in the UN corridor as a result of his reportedly commendable performance. This is vividly revealed when Shah was chosen as chairman of the UN Commission constituted to investigate on the death of Hammarskjold. That a Nepali diplomat was chosen to chair such internationally important commission was an achievement in itself for Nepal at that time when Nepal was little exposed to the external world unlike today.


Hammarskjold was the first UN SG to visit Nepal whose poem after his visit to the famous Buddhist shrine in Swayambhunath, Kathmandu reads


    The brilliant notes of the flute

                         Are heard by the God

                          In the cave of birth


Himalayan ice cliffs …

A lace of rest. Charcoal fires

Deep in the mirror

Vishnu is at peace” (A New Look at Everest, National Geography magazine 1961)


This symbolizes Dag’s love for Nepal as a peaceful country. Eight years latter his visit was followed by his successor’s visit U Thant to the Lumbini on whose suggestion the present development around  that shrine is taking a upward trend of development.


The UN GA of 1960’s fall was important since that had marked 15th year of its advent wherein either head of the state or head of the government had led the delegation of their respective countries in response to the UN call for the same. Concurrently  Nepal’s performance in that Assembly is recorded to be one of the best . The respond of Bishow Bandu Thapa , one of the Nepal’s delegates to the UN ,  to the USSR’s  premier Nikita Khrushchev’s  remark that he needed to check in global map as to where was Nepal  reportedly was well appraised and well hailed since Thapa had floated  a diplomatic satire saying that Khrushchev did not know Nepal because it was situated in the Asian continent ,has had remained independent throughout the history ,had pursued  multiparty  parliamentary system wherein four members to the house of representatives ( Nepalese parliament) were elected from his ( Khrushchev) communist party.   Thapa, however, in an informal chat with this inscribe opined it was made for fun.


The 15th UN General Assembly became the last session of Dag’s tenure as its profoundly well remembered secretary general of this world body..                      














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