2019 and 2021 Dag Hammarskjöld Lectures

This event featured lectures by Christiana Figueres and Agnès Callamard.

Event details

Date:17 September 2021
Time:14:00 Central European Summer Time (CEST)
Venue:Uppsala University Grand Auditorium and online via livestream.

The annual Dag Hammarskjöld Lecture, jointly hosted by the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation and Uppsala University, is given in memory of Dag Hammarskjöld. It recognises individuals who exhibit the values that inspired him personally and as Secretary-General: compassion, humanism, and commitment to international solidarity and cooperation.

Two Dag Hammarskjöld Lectures were delivered on 17 September 2021. First, Christiana Figueres delivered her postponed 2019 lecture titled ‘Leadership for the decisive decade’. Second, the 2021 lecture, titled ‘A global compact for a world beyond COVID-19’, was delivered by Agnès Callamard. (The 2020 iteration of the lecture was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic). Lecture abstracts are available below and links to the speaker biographies may be found at the bottom of this page.

The event took place in Uppsala University Grand Auditorium (Aula Magna) and was also livestreamed. Ms Figueres delivered her lecture virtually, while Dr Callamard gave her lecture in person. The two then engaged in a live conversation, moderated by Dr Peter Wallensteen, Senior Professor of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University.


Lecture Abstracts

Agnès Callamard, 2021 Dag Hammarskjöld Lecture
A global compact for a world beyond COVID

Photograph of Agnes Callamard

Dr Callamard’s lecture will focus on the international context and national conditions that have allowed the COVID-19 pandemic to wreak havoc on populations the world over, undermining human rights, equitable economic growth and security for vulnerable populations, in addition to killing millions.  Dr Callamard will offer a critique of governments’ and big pharma’s responses, highlighting the succession of failures that should, and could, have been avoided.  She will show how, at the beginning of 2021, States had the opportunity and capacity to turn their backs on self-interested policies.  Instead, they elected to follow policies that facilitated the spread of COVID and resulted in yet more deaths globally.

Dr Callamard will argue that to put an end to these international necropolitics, much more than merely recovery is needed.  A reset or reboot is essential. A new global compact for a post-pandemic world must be struck.  Greed must no longer be allowed to line the pockets of billionaires and corporations or corrupt civilian and military leaders while public systems for education, health and livelihoods are left to crumble and the planet teeters on the edge of climate devastation.  Drawing on her own experiences, Dr Callamard will conclude by setting out proposals for a new global compact grounded in international norms and outlining the leadership required to see it realised.


Christiana Figueres, 2019 Dag Hammarskjöld Lecture
Leadership for the decisive decade

Christiana Figueres

Ms Figueres will interpret Dag Hammarskjöld’s staunch humanist convictions within the context of the current climate change challenge. She will argue that the entry into the era of the Anthropocene (the era of the human being) makes it necessary for humans to assume the responsibility that they have engendered as unparalleled agents of change. Unlike any previous period in the evolution of mankind, humans are holding the pen on the present and, above all, on the future.

Ms Figueres will further provide evidence of the fact that in addressing climate change, we are starting to take individual and collective responsibility to mend the damage we have wrought on ourselves and on other sentient beings on the planet. We are also beginning to show solidarity with one another and to strengthen our collaboration capacity. In short, although we are very late and running out of time, we are donning Hammarskjöld’s humanist conviction, which is the only route to address the greatest challenge that humanity has ever faced.