The UN Inquiry into Hammarskjöld’s death: Last chance to reach the truth?

2021 marks the 60th anniversary of the plane crash in which Dag Hammarskjöld and fifteen others died. The occasion will be marked at the United Nations in New York, and in Sweden and African cities as well as in London.

The UN’s inquiry into new information on the causes of the plane crash was set up in 2017 and will be completed in 2022, delayed a year by COVID. From the start, the UN has sought cooperation from former colonial powers and other nations prominent during the Congo crisis as well as those gaining their independence later. Their degree of cooperation has varied widely, from those hindering the UN Inquiry to those seeking to advance it. Our speakers will review the inquiry’s progress and identify obstacles that can weaken it.


  • Dr Henning Melber, Emeritus Director, Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation
  • Asa Theander, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Sweden 
  • Rt. Revd. Trevor Musonda Mwamba, Former Bishop of Botswana
  • Senator Dr Sydney Sekeramayi, Former Minister of Defence, Zimbabwe 
  • David Wardrop, Editor, Hammarskjö

Chair: Rt Hon Lord Boateng PC, Former High Commissioner to South Africa

This event is jointly hosted by the Westminster United Nations Association and the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London. In 2011, to mark the 50th anniversary, they jointly hosted a major conference titled 'Dag Hammarskjold, the United Nations and the End of Empire' featuring twelve speakers.

Coincident with the 2011 conference Dr Susan Williams published her book Who killed Hammarskjöld? This prompted Lord Lea of Crondall to lead an enabling committee which in 2012 set up the Hammarskjöld Commission tasked to assess new evidence pertinent to the plane crash newly available. It reported its findings at The Hague on 9 September 2013, stating that it “respectfully considers that the United Nations, deploying authority which the Commission does not possess, would be justified in reopening its 1961-62 inquiry.” The Commission’s report led to the UN General Assembly supporting the appointment of a three-person expert panel charged to examine new information. That panel’s report led UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon to invite Judge Othman to conduct a full inquiry into the incident. In his interim report (2017), Judge Othman stated “It appears plausible that an external attack or threat may have been a cause of the crash, whether by way of a direct attack ... or by causing a momentary distraction of the pilots.”

Institute of Commonwealth Studies
Dr Henning Melber, Asa Theander, Rt. Revd. Trevor Musonda Mwamba, Senator Dr Sydney Sekeramayi, David Wardrop, Rt Hon Lord Boateng
Event date: 
Thursday, 16 September 2021 - 5:00pm