Ana, aged 14

‘You have not done enough, you have never done enough, as long as there is something to which you can contribute’ – Dag Hammerskjold 

Have you ever asked yourself how much longer the United Nations (UN) peace missions will go on for? Have you ever questioned why the UN keeps sending more peacekeepers on new peace-missions? Have you ever wondered when, finally, peace-keeping will no longer be necessary? The answer? ‘You have not done enough, you have never done enough, as long as there is something to which you can contribute,’ as in the words of 2nd Secretary General to the UN, Dag Hammerskjold.

Dag Hammerskjold was one of the most influential people of the 20th century – he took over what was described as ‘the most difficult job in the world,’ by his predecessor, and his outstanding achievements still inspire people around the world to work for the ultimate goal of the human race – peace. As a result of his hard work and contributions, he was awarded a posthumous Nobel Prize for peace. His many accomplishments include his role of mediator between Israeland the Arab states, his visit to Chinain 1955 to negotiate the release of 15 captured USpilots, establishing the United Nations Emergency Force in 1956, and his intervention in the 1956 Suez Canal Crisis. He died in 1960 while resolving the Congo Crisis. All of this reinforces his wise words – that there are always causes we can support and to which we can contribute.

In order for us to put Dag Hammerskjold’s great words into actions, we must first understand what they mean. Basically, what Mr Hammerskjold’s wise insight translates into is that there is no limit, border or boundary as to what we can do to achieve peace. If there are still places where impending disaster hovers over people’s lives, still regions where war can erupt at any given point in time, still people who threaten peace, then we still have more work to do, and we cannot ever stop, give up or falter in our decision to do so. In other words – ‘the only true failure is when you stop trying.’  People like Dag Hammerskjold show that success can be achieved without the use of force, simply through the means of peaceful actions and words of wisdom. Pacifists like him set a great example to all of us, and send out a great message – never give up and never give in.

Ever since the United Nations was founded in 1945, they have embodied the idea that we must keep working tirelessly for the sake of world peace. The UN’s peace missions in 16 countries today, including Kosovo, Congo, Haiti, Afghanistan, epitomize Mr Hammerskjold’s wise words: that as long as ‘there is something to which you can contribute,’ you have a duty to fulfill. At the moment, in Haitifor example, the UN is working hard towards helping support ‘the immediate recovery, reconstruction and stability efforts in the country’ especially after the devastating earthquake in January 2010. Creating a secure environment and protecting human rights, is also on the agenda.

Dag Hammerskjold once said ‘Never measure the height of a mountain until you have reached the top. Then you will see how low it was,’ meaning that everything seems difficult before we try. There will undoubtedly be problems to face in the future. But will we ever give up? No. Will we ever stop trying to reach our aim? No. Why? Because ‘you have not done enough, you have never done enough, as long as there is still something to which you can contribute to.


About UN News Geneva

Sharing entires to the United Nations Peace Essay competitions run by the Information Service in Geneva in 2011
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