The United Nations is investigating the mysterious death of its second secretary-general 60 years ago last Saturday in circumstances that appear to implicate the intelligence agencies of the United States and Britain.
The U.N.’s inquiry into new information on the causes of the plane crash that killed U.N. Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld on Sept. 18, 1961 was set up in 2017 and will be completed in 2022, delayed a year by the pandemic. From the start, the U.N. has sought cooperation from former colonial powers and other nations prominent during the Congo crisis, as well as those gaining their independence later. Their degree of cooperation has varied widely, from those hindering the U.N. Inquiry to those seeking to advance it.
The U.S. and Britain have refused so far to declassify intelligence documents sought by the U.N. that could shed light on Hammarskjöld’s death.
The speakers who review the inquiry’s progress in this webcast, which was jointly hosted by the Westminster United Nations Association and the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London, are:
- Dr. Henning Melber, Emeritus Director, Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation
- Asa Theander, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Sweden
- Rt. Revd. Trevor Musonda Mwamba, Former Bishop of Botswana
- Senator Dr Sydney Sekeramayi, Former Minister of Defence, Zimbabwe
- David Wardrop, Editor, HammarskjöldInquiry.info
- Rt Hon Lord Boateng PC, Former High Commissioner to South Africa
- Richard Goldstone, former South African jurist, member of Hammarskjöld Commission
To mark the 50th anniversary of Hammarskjöld’s death in 2011, a conference titled “Dag Hammarskjold, the United Nations and the End of Empire”, featuring twelve speakers was held following publication of British researcher Susan Williams‘ book Who killed Hammarskjöld?
This prompted Lord Lea of Crondall to lead an enabling committee which in 2012 set up the Hammarskjöld Commission tasked to assess new evidence pertinent to the plane crash newly available. It reported its findings at The Hague on Sept. 9, 2013, stating that it “respectfully considers that the United Nations, deploying authority which the Commission does not possess, would be justified in reopening its 1961-62 inquiry.”
The Commission’s report led to the U.N. General Assembly supporting the appointment of a three-person expert panel charged to examine new information. That panel’s report led then U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon to invite Judge Chande Othman of Tanzania to conduct a full inquiry into the incident. In his interim report (2017), Judge Othman stated “It appears plausible that an external attack or threat may have been a cause of the crash, whether by way of a direct attack … or by causing a momentary distraction of the pilots.”