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Amid Praise of Hammarskjold, UNSC Race and John Ashe Case, “What Would Dag Say?”

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 27 -- When Dag Hammarskjold was UN Secretary General, there was was a time he invited a dozen guests to his apartment on the Upper East Side for dinner. When they got there, Hammarskjold told his guests, Let us be quiet for the next two hours while we eat, and listen to Bach.

  This story was told by Hammarskjold's fellow Swede Jan Eliasson on Tuesday evening the UN's Economic and Social Council Chamber, along with readings from Hammarskjold's Markings and pieces of Bach and Beethoven.

 In a reception afterward, after remarks for the Hammarskjold Foundation and salmon tartar and endive leaves, Eliasson recounted a story that he said fell out of his notes, how Hammarskjold's diplomatic skill and respect for Chinese culture got gained a release by China as a birthday gift to him.

  One was left wondering what Hammarskjold would make up the indictment this month of recent President of the General Assembly John Ashe, of Dominican Republic Deputy Permanent Representative Frank Lorenzo and Macau based businessness Ng Lap Seng. What reforms would Hammarskjold be pushing for? Would they be more than a small task force and an internal audit of two foundations?

   It was also difficult not to think, at the event and then reception, of Sweden's run for two Security Council seat next June against Italy and the Netherlands. One attendee joked to Inner City Press about “playing the Hammarskjold card;” it must be noted that Finland tried something similar but was unsuccessful. What about the Margot Wallstrom card? What philosophers will Italy and the Netherlands put forward?

   At the reception, diplomats from three continents and Regional Groups told Inner City Press that in today's world, or at least today's UN, there is no time to think the way Hammarksjold did. Is this related to the way corruption penetrated the UN, from award ceremonies in the Delegates Dining Room to Cipriani? What would Dag say? We'll have more on this.


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