On 30 May 1961, Dag Hammarskjöld, the second Secretary-General of the United Nations, delivered a notable lecture at Oxford University. In the speech, Hammarskjöld details the legal principles for the international civil service and underscores the importance of its international character and independence. He warns that if these principles are compromised, internationalism will in effect be abandoned and that the price to be paid may well be peace.
During this centennial year of the international civil service, and as the UN prepares to celebrate its 75th anniversary next year, it is particularly important to revisit the Oxford speech. It is an opportunity to reflect on the essential values and principles underscored by Hammarskjöld during the early and defining moments of the Organisation. We are therefore publishing the speech in full here to ensure it reaches international civil servants of today, hoping to inspire with Hammarskjöld’s precise and meaningful words.