Conference of The Hague Academic Coalition


The Hague Academic Coalition organized a conference in the Peace Palace: ‘Peace Diplomacy, Global Justice and International Agency: Rethinking Human Security and Ethics in the Spirit of former SG of the UN Dag Hammarskjöld (1905-1961).’

Fifty years ago the second United Nations Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld passed away in a plane crash, on his way to peace negotiations with the leaders of Katanga Province, the Congo. Dag Hammarskjöld advocated a community-based vision of the United Nations in maintaining international peace and security, which still remains at the core of UN’s efforts. In his last Annual Report to the General Assembly, he argued that this objective would only be achieved on the basis of four fundamental principles: (i) equal political rights, both sovereign and individual; (ii) equal economic opportunities, through higher standards and also conditions conducive to economic and social advancement; (iii) a firm framework of the rule of law, which should underpin all activities of the international community; and (iv) the prohibition of the use of force, where it is contrary to the other three principles.

On 9 November more than 350 academics, ambassadors, judges and students were welcomedby Prof. Carsten Stahn, Chair of the conference and Dr Sam Muller, Chair of The Hague Academic Coalition. They introduced the theme of the conference, the legacy of Dag Hammarskjöld, highlighting some aspects that were introduced by this remarkable Secretary-General and which are still of great relevance for today. Stahn mentioned the importance of dialogue and public debate Hammarskjöld already referred to in his speech at Ohio on the ‘Element of Privacy in Peacemaking’ in February 1958: “By ‘privacy’, Dag Hammarskjöld meant not only ‘personal’ diplomacy (in addition to ‘public’ diplomacy), but also the role and responsibility of media to ‘develop a better informed public opinion’ in peacemaking.” Carsten Stahn.

Obviously, this retains special significance at the time of the ‘Arab Spring’ and the rise of newforms of communication. Dag Hammarskjöld also introduced the concept of the ‘international civil servant’, subordinating himself and the UN as world organization to the will of the global community:

“Dag Hammarskjöld introduced the word ‘international service’ (meaning: ‘A responsibility which overrides all other considerations’) (…) [and] created a towering metaphorical figure -that of the serving, independent, caring, ethical, and connected international civil servant -which continues to serve as the benchmark today.” Sam Muller

Prof. Peter Kooijmans, Minister of State of The Netherlands, continued the opening session by stating that Dag Hammarskjöld decided to serve the interests of the world organization UN as the embodiment of the world-community and steadfastly refused to allow it to become a tool in the hands of the big powers:

“He explored new horizons and set off on new daring adventures, like e.g. the

instrumentation of peace-keeping, preventive diplomacy and early warning.” Peter Kooijmans

These concepts ask for a long-term policy. If these long-term policy goals are taken moreseriously it might not be necessary to resort to short-term action like the use of force, ashappened in the case of Libya on the basis of the R2P concept. “The short-term action is not morally acceptable if the long-term approach has not seriouslybeen given a chance.” Peter Kooijmans

Please read Mr. Kooijmans complete speech here

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