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In Sweden, Annan honours legacy of late Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld

In Sweden, Annan honours legacy of late Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld

Dag Hammarskjöld
On the first day of his official visit to Sweden, Kofi Annan today honoured the legacy of late Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld, noting that no other person has had more influence on the United Nations.

"It will not surprise you to hear that Dag Hammarskjöld is a figure of great importance for me," Mr. Annan said in Uppsala, Sweden, in his annual lecture honouring the late Secretary-General who died in 1961 while on a peace-building trip to the Congo. "His life and his death, his words and his actions, have done more to shape public expectations of the office, and indeed of the Organization, than those of any other man or woman in its history."

Mr. Hammarskjöld, who served as Secretary-General from 1953 to 1961, showed that the UN Charter clearly implied the existence of "an international community, for which the Organization is an instrument and an expansion," Mr. Annan said. Quoting Mr. Hammarskjöld, the current Secretary-General said the UN's overriding purpose was to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war and, to do that, the Organization had to follow four key principles - equal political rights, equal economic opportunities, justice and the prohibition of the use of armed force "save in the common interest."

Mr. Annan's visit in Sweden began this morning in Stockholm with a meeting with the speaker of Parliament, Birgitta Dahl, whom he asked for support in bringing into force the Rome Statute on the International Criminal Court. According to a UN spokesman in New York, Ms. Dahl assured him of Sweden's support. The two also discussed the anti-globalization protests and upcoming UN conferences on sustainable development in South Africa and on financing for development in Mexico.

The Secretary-General then met with Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh, with whom he discussed, among other issues, the problems at the UN World Conference against Racism, the UN's relationship with the European Union, the United States' role in contemporary international relations, and "the efforts to get the Palestinians and the Israelis back to the negotiating table and to restart the Cyprus talks," UN spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva said.

Mr. Annan also held discussions with Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson on the Middle East, the Balkans, and the impact of current global economic trends on international security.

Following today's lecture on Dag Hammarskjöld at Uppsala University, the Secretary-General was scheduled to meet the press before attending a dinner in his honour hosted by the Hammarskjöld Foundation. He returns to New York tomorrow.