On Leadership: The Art of Creating Public Value in the United Nations

In this paper, Bruce Jenks looks at what leadership means in the highly complex environment in which the United Nations operates.

Publication details

Title:On Leadership: The Art of Creating Public Value in the United Nations
Type:100 Years of International Civil Service
Author:Bruce Jenks

The starting point for this reflection piece is the proposition articulated by Mark Moore that ‘public servants are explorers commissioned by society to search for public value’.

The paper explores the underlying principles of international public service as articulated in articles 97-101 of the UN Charter, as well as the interpretation of these articles by Dag Hammarskjöld in his May 1961 Oxford Speech. Together these provide insights into the political space which can influence the scope for initiative and leadership.

The paper also explores how Mark Moore’s strategic triangle serves to identify the scope of the political space that lies at the heart of the art of leadership. The paper discusses a number of the instruments available to create, as well as to invest in, political space.

The paper concludes by highlighting that our reflections on the 100th anniversary of the creation of the international civil service come at a unique moment.


100 years of International Civil Service

This publication is part of a series issued by the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation commemorating 100 years of international civil service, which originated in 1919 with the birth of the League of Nations.

The series features inspirational and reflective think pieces on the concept of the international civil service by former and present United Nations’ officials, as well as representatives from civil society and academia.