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Seminar: Dag Hammarskjöld remembered 24th March 2011


Ladies and Gentlemen,



My name is Antti Kaikkonen and I also want to welcome all of you to the seminar 'The Values of UNs Second Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld and the Future of the UN'. It is an honour for me to give this speech here today. Not only on the role of the chairman of the UN Association of Finland but also as a Mr. Hammarskjöld's great admirer.


Dag Hammarskjöld was the second Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1953. Not only was he in the role of Secretary-General; he was also an economist and an author as well. And also: an exponent of arts. His texts and his life work will live forever, so fine they are. He is the only person in the World who has awarded the Nobel Peace Price posthumously. No wonder. He caught to deal with many crisis, such as Suez and was a negotiator between Israel and Arab states.


He was a pioneer and saw the strength of the United Nations as a neutral organisation. He believed in the UN in a very difficult and even chaotic situation which many others saw gloomy. He believed in the UN and he believed in the World peace.


What values have we received from Mr. Hammarskjöld? The main point is his idea that "the greatest prayer of man is not for victory but for peace." This is a guideline which we all should keep in mind in everything what we do. Most of us here today have something to do with the work of the UN or peace work in general. We share the heritage and values of Mr. Hammarskjöld in our everyday work.


He wanted to improve the solidarity for the small states in the pressure of the big forces. Every country should have the possibility to guarantee the adequate living conditions for its citizens. If they are not able to do so, the so called stronger countries should give their support. Not in the means of their own political or economical interests but for the peace. And for the well being. Hammarskjöld left us the value of unlimited solidarity which does not depend on the religion, political background, ethnical background or anything such. In the center of everything is the human being.


For Mr. Hammarskjöld, NOTHING was impossible. Nothing. That was his strength. He did take risks. And he succeeded despite the denunciation.

He planned everything well and risks together with planning made the impossible possible. He is said to be the greatest Secretary-General due to his ability to shape the events.



Dag Hammarskjöld was a man who wasn't afraid to resist the wish of a big power. He chose the more difficult way to handle the relations although it was not the easiest one. We all need to take risks sometimes. We need to win our fears. We need to do it for the better world.


Hammarskjöld didn't make a confrontation to art, politics or literature. He saw them as matters which support each other. He thought that artistic creativity is a matter of diplomacy. That is a thing that too often is forgotten. We have to be creative in processing peace. New points of views in handling the crisis are always needed. The diplomacy is an ongoing process. It needs the fuel of mind to find new solutions.


Mr. Hammarskjöld left us countless precious thoughts, values and guidelines. His sense of fairness is something that we all have a lesson to learn from. Many of his thoughts give us all a great insight into life. We need to believe in ourselves and see the life as a big challenge open with all the possibilities. Like he encouraged: "For all that has been, Thank you. For all that is to come. Yes!"


The future of the United Nations is challenging. There is still a huge need for the work of the UN in many areas. The World is not ready. The peace is achieved step by step.


I share Mr. Hammarskjölds wisdom of the UN because it still suits to the situation today. He said that:

“We should, rather, recognize the United Nations for what it is – an admittedly imperfect but indispensable instrument of nations working for a peace evolution towards a more just and secure world order."


Let's keep peace in mind! Thank you!