UN reopens inquiry into Secretary General’s death following Hammarskjöld Commission’s recommendation


The United Nations is to reopen an investigation into the death of UN Secretary General following recommendations made by a commission chaired by Cloisters’ Sir Stephen Sedley.

Dag Hammarskjöld was on a mission in 1961 aimed at brokering a ceasefire between the Congolese government and rebels when his plane crashed in Zambia.

The 1962 UN investigation that followed failed to identify the cause of the crash instead reaching an open verdict. However, the Hammarskjöld Commission, a voluntary body of four international and distinguished jurists set up in 2012 to report on the findings, called for a fresh inquiry.

It reported that the US National Security Agency (NSA) might hold crucial evidence, such as a record of the plane’s radio traffic in the minutes before it crashed, that might indicate as to whether the DC6 had been attacked, or had simply lost height over forested terrain.  

The report said that the NSA was operating global monitoring activities during that period, so it was “highly likely” that the radio traffic was recorded by the NSA and possibly also by the CIA.

It proposed that the UN should reopen its original inquiry to focus on obtaining this evidence.

The General Assembly has agreed to adopt the Swedish motion, backed by 35 member states, to appoint a panel of experts and follow up on the Commission’s report. It has called on all member states to cooperate.

Cloisters is delighted to have been able to support this inquiry and warmly welcomes the decision of the UN to take forward its recommendations.

The Commission report can be found here.

News coverage by the BBC can be found here.