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Title: A force for peace : expanding the role of the UN Secretary-General under Trygve Lie, 1946-1953
Author: Ravndal, Ellen Jenny
ISNI:       0000 0004 6062 3453
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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The UN secretary-general plays an important political role in world politics, yet the UN Charter describes him merely as "the chief administrative officer of the Organization". How did such a development come about? The existing narrative tends to emphasise the contribution made by Dag Hammarskjöld, the United Nation's second secretary-general from 1953 to 1961. This thesis argues that there are two problems with this narrative. First, it overlooks the precedents set under the first UN secretary-general, Trygve Lie, who was in office from 1946 to 1953. Second, it places too much emphasis on the personal role played by Hammarskjöld, and fails to adequately consider the importance of institutional factors. The main empirical contribution of this thesis is to highlight the importance of precedents set during the first years of the UN's existence while Lie was secretary-general. Through his active stance on political issues in relation to Iran, Palestine, Berlin, Chinese representation, and Korea, as well as his consistently strong defence of the UN's unity and principles, Trygve Lie succeeded in carving out space for the secretary-general to act autonomously on political issues, which later secretaries-general could build on. The thesis' main theoretical contribution is to emphasise the importance of institutional factors in the development of the UN secretary-general's political role. In a conceptual framework based on institutionalism, the thesis explains how the UN secretary-general should be understood to play a 'role' within the 'institution' of the United Nations, and how this makes change of the role and the institution possible. Furthermore, through an examination of the founding of the United Nations and early expectations for the role of the secretary-general, the thesis shows that the institution of the United Nations had been set up from the start in such a way that it not only allowed for an expansion of the office of UN secretary-general, but also made such an expansion likely. The body of the thesis demonstrates how this process played out over time, by examining Lie's activities as secretary-general, and offering a historical narrative of several episodes where the institution 'pulled' to expand the office, just as much as, or even more than, Lie 'pushed' for the same outcome.
Supervisor: Nicolaïdis, Kalypso Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: World politics--1945-1955 ; Security ; International ; International agencies--Decision making