Volume I-Number 1

Ronald S. Thomas

Abstract: In light of 1960-1964 Crisis in the Congo and the increasingly deteriorating situation in Vietnam, the role of the United Nations (UN) in mediating such conflicts becomes ever-more significant. This paper analyzes the expanding responsibilities of the UN Secretary General (UNSG) in a critical component of the UN’s mission, conflict resolution. The UNSG is largely the chief administrative officer of the United Nations, and is tasked with numerous duties that are bestowed upon him by the varying agencies of the organization. Without a dynamic Secretary General, the ability of the UN to mediate internal and external conflicts can be greatly hindered. To illustrate this point, this paper begins by reviewing the actions of Trygve Lie, an assertive former-Secretary General renowned for his work in empowering the UNSG office with the right to engage in public discourse with UN Member States. The article then evaluates Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold’s peace initiatives during the 1960-1964 Congo Crisis, thus illustrating how the balance of power within the UN has shifted over the past two decades to favor the rise of a creative Secretary General. As the UN gained membership, the necessity for timely and fast-paced oriented Secretary Generals grew. Hammarskjold, with his determination and use of parliamentary diplomacy and the neutral principle, consolidated his influence in the UNSG. However, his successor, U Thant, demonstrated a greater degree of restraint, although Thant did contribute to ceasing the Congo Crisis. Scholars continue to debate the proper orientation of United Nations Secretary Generals towards conflict resolution. With global conflicts becoming more diverse and intricate, the UN ought to utilize the power and influence of a robust and energetic Secretary General in order to assist the UN in overcoming the obstacles presented throughout the international system.

Keywords: Congo, Crisis, United Nations, Secretary General, Trygve Lee

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