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Trygve Lie, Norway, UN Secretary-General from 1946 to 1952. He was elected as the first Secretary-General of the United Nations as a result of a compro­mise between the major powers. As Secretary-General, Lie supported the foundations of Israel and Indonesia. He worked for the withdrawal of Soviet forces in Iran and a ceasefire to fighting in Kashmir. He attracted the anger of the Soviet Union when he helped gather support for the defense of South Korea after it was invaded in 1950 and later worked to end the Soviet boy­cott of UN meetings. He also sought to have the People’s Republic of China recognized by the United Nations after the Nationalist government was ex­iled to Taiwan, arguing that the People’s Republic was the only government which could fulfill the membership obligations in full. He has been criti­cized for his failures to facilitate negotiations in the Berlin Blockade, as well as his failure to bring about a swifter end to the Korean War. He has also been criticized for his arrogance and stubbornness.

Dag Hammarskjold UN Secretary-General from 1953 to 1961. During his term, Hammarskjold tried to smooth relations between Israel and the Arab states. In 1956 the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) was estab­lished, which allowed the Secretary-General to take emergency action with­out the prior approval of either the Security Council or General Assembly. In 1957, Hammarskjold intervened in the Suez Crisis. He is given credit by some historians for allowing the participation of the Holy See within the United Nations that year. He was nicknamed the secular pope by some au­thors. His efforts towards the decolonization of Africa were considered in­sufficient by the Soviet Union; in September 1960, they denounced his deci­sion to send a UN emergency force to keep the peace. They demanded his resignation and the replacement of the office of Secretary-General by a three-man directorate with a built-in veto, the “troika”. The objective was, citing the memoirs of the Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev, to “equally rep­resent interests of three groups of countries: capitalist, socialist and recently independent.”

Boutros Ghali, Egypt: 1992-1996. In 1992 Boutros-Ghali submitted An Agenda for Peace, a suggestion for how the UN could respond to violent conflict. However, he was criticized for the UN’s failure to act during the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, which officially left over 1 million people dead, and he appeared unable to muster support in the UN for intervention in the continuing Angolan Civil War. One of the hardest tasks during his term was dealing with the crisis of the Yugoslav wars after the disintegration of for­mer Yugoslavia. His reputation became entangled in the larger controversies over the effectiveness of the UN and the role of the United States in the UN. In 1996 the United States vetoed a second term for Boutros-Ghali. Boutros-Ghali was the only UN Secretary-General not to be elected to a second term in office. He was succeeded at the UN by Kofi Annan.

Kofi Annan, Ghana: 1997-2006. In April 2001, Annan issued a five-point “Call to Action” to address the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Stating it was a “per­sonal priority”, Annan proposed a Global AIDS and Health Fund to stimu­late the increased international spending needed to help developing coun­tries confront the HIV/AIDS crisis. On 10 December 2001, Annan and the United Nations were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, “for their work for a better organized and more peaceful world”. During the build-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Annan called on the United States and the United Kingdom not to invade without the support of the United Nations. In a Sep­tember 2004 interview on the BBC, when questioned about the legal author­ity for the invasion, Annan said he believed it was not in conformity with the UN charter and was illegal. Annan supported sending a UN peacekeep­ing mission to Darfur, Sudan. He worked with the government of Sudan to accept a transfer of power from the African Union peacekeeping mission to a UN one. Annan also worked with several Arab and Muslim countries on women’s rights and other topics.


Vocabulary notes:

to blame sb for sth — to think or say that sb/sth is responsible for sth bad.

to fall out with — (BrE) to quarrel with sb so that you are no longer friendly with them.

to get on with sb — to have a friendly relationship with sb.

to lay down — if you lay down a rule or a principle, you state officially that people must obey it or use it.


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