Legacy as Secretary-General

While serving in his post as the world’s top international civil servant, Dag Hammarskjöld restructured the UN to make it more effective, created the basis for UN peacekeeping operations, and successfully implemented his “preventive diplomacy” in crises from the Middle East to China.

His most commonly cited diplomatic successes include the release of American soldiers captured by the Chinese in the Korean War, the resolution of the 1956 Suez Canal crisis and the 1958 withdrawal of American and British troops in Lebanon and Jordan. When meeting these international challenges, Hammarskjöld combined great moral force with subtlety and insisted on the independence of his office. In doing so he shaped an enduring impression of the role and responsibilities of the international civil servant.