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Centenary Of 'Visionary' Former UN Leader's Birth

Annan Marks Centenary Of 'Visionary' Former UN Leader Hammarskjöld's Birth

New York, Jul 29 2005 6:00PM

Swedish-born former United Nations Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld "embodied the very definition of a visionary," for he was deeply aware that development, security and human rights were not only ends in themselves, but that they reinforced each other, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today in a message marking the centenary of Mr. Hammarskjöld's birth.

"A visionary in so many ways, he understood that…in our interconnected world the human family cannot enjoy security without development, cannot enjoy development without security, and cannot enjoy either without respect for human rights," Mr. Annan said in a statement delivered by former Under-Secretary-General Sir Brian Urquhart at a ceremony in Backåkra, Sweden.

He also knew that to act on that understanding, "we need a strong United Nations, and true solidarity among Governments and peoples," Mr. Annan said, stressing that those principles, which Mr. Hammarskjöld pursued tirelessly during his tenure as UN chief, from 1953 to 1961, and throughout his life, summed up the very mission the UN was undertaking in this, its 60th anniversary year.

During the seismic global shifts that characterized Mr. Hammarskjöld's years at the helm, more than 25 countries gained independence and became Member States of the UN. "

"[In addition] no one…tried harder to grasp the promise and problems of Africa. No one searched more deeply for solutions," Mr. Annan said.

Mr. Hammarskjöld was constantly exploring new diplomatic techniques, from the creative use of his own office as Secretary-General, to the pioneering practice of preventive diplomacy. "Mr. Hammarskjöld embodied the very definition of a visionary, for he saw things in a way that was far ahead of his time," he said.

"That we are acting on that vision today is surely the best tribute we could pay to this exceptional human being, who saw himself as a servant as much as a leader, and who for that reason, was followed by many; who knew and loved his country deeply, and was inspired by its ideals to work for the good of the world," Mr. Annan said.


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