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“Machiavelli of Peace”: Dag Hammarskjöld and the political role of the Secretary-General of the United Nations

Frielingsdorf, Per-Axel (2016) “Machiavelli of Peace”: Dag Hammarskjöld and the political role of the Secretary-General of the United Nations. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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The thesis analyses Dag Hammarskjöld’s political role as UN Secretary-General and the efforts he made to justify such a role. It is the first attempt to give a comprehensive account of the political role Hammarskjöld played from “both sides”, based on the now available sources from both national and UN archives. The thesis also deals with the problems of a political role for the UN Secretary-General. The conventional picture of Hammarskjöld as a “neutral and impartial” international civil servant is challenged and the figure that emerges is the one of an astute politician – a ”Machiavelli of Peace”. As a civil servant in Sweden, Hammarskjöld played a political role although he viewed himself as an expert and civil servant and not a politician. He argued that he could play a political role based on ”neutrality and impartiality” and he transferred this concept to the international arena as Secretary-General. Hammarskjöld managed to play an important political role because he offered a solution to the American dilemma of how to deal with the Cold War in the ThirdWorld without choosing between their Western European allies and the newly independent countries. This at the precise time when the Americans were losing control of the General Assembly due to the influx of newly independent countries that put decolonisation on the agenda. In the Congo Crisis the political role of the Secretary-General reached its zenith during the initial period where Hammarskjöld played an interventionist role. Hammarskjöld’s policies were based on clearly defined Cold War objectives – shared by the Western permanent members of the Security Council – and on a wish to enlarge the political role of the Secretary-General. The weak base for Hammarskjöld’s political role forced him to radically change his policies in the Congo to shore up his position when he was criticised for his interventionist policies.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2016 Per-Axel Frielingsdorf
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Sets: Departments > International Relations
Supervisor: Kent, John

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