Press Release SG/1035
29 May 1961
Address by UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld at Oxford University, 30 May 1961
The International Civil Servant in Law and in Fact
In a recent article Mr. Walter Lippmann tells about an interview in Moscow with Mr. Khrushchev. According to the article, Chairman Khrushchev stated that “while there are neutral countries, there are no neutral men,” and the author draws the conclusion that it is now the view of the Soviet Government “that there can be no such thing as an impartial civil servant in this deeply divided world, and that the kind of political celibacy which the British theory of the civil servant calls for, is in international affairs a fiction”.
Whether this accurately sums up the views held by the Soviet Government, as reflected in the interview, or not, one thing is certain: the attitude which the article reflects is one which we find nowadays in many political quarters, communist and non-communist alike, and it raises a problem which cannot be treated lightly. In fact, it challenges basic tenets in the philosophy of both the League of Nations and the United Nations, as one of the essential points on which these experiments in international cooperation represent an advance beyond traditional “conference diplomacy” is the introduction on the international arena of joint permanent organs, employing a neutral civil service, and the use of such organs for executive purposes on behalf of all the members of the organisations. Were it to be considered that the experience shows that this radical innovation in international life rests on a false assumption, because “no man can be neutral,” then we would be thrown back to 1919, and a searching reappraisal would become necessary.
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