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History 9067/3: International History, 1945 – 1991

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  1. Introduction
  2. The United Nations Secretary-General
  3. Secretary General
  4. Analysis
  5. Conclusion

On first reading, Source A agrees with the hypothesis that ?The United Nations Secretary-General has never possessed any independent power.? For example, it says that ?Trygve Lie had to operate in a UN which was still very much an ?East-West structure.? ? this seems to suggest that the Secretary-General had to work within the constraints of the ?East-West structure? that may have limited his independence. Even when the source states that there were external influences that boosted him, this may be interpreted that he required some form of support to function, which implicitly agrees with the given hypothesis. An example is ?The enlargement of the role of the Secretary-General [being] fervently backed at its very start in 1946 by none other than Andrei Gromyko, now Soviet Foreign Minister.? However, it must be noted that upon cross-reference to contextual knowledge, one realizes that the reliability of Source A is questionable. It says that ?Lie ? largely because of his position on the Iran question ? was rather doubtfully regarded in Washington and that he was much less suspect in Moscow.? Yet to my knowledge there was in fact some disagreement over Iran between Lie and the USSR: the latter failed to withdraw its troops from Iranian territory by the agreed deadline, and its delegate walked out in protest. Hence the source may be simplistic, and even unreliable. Also, the provenance indicates that the source is by Andrew Boyd, a British journalist, from his book ?United Nations: Piety, Myth and Truth?.

[...] In addition, if one were to analyse the source more closely, one would notice that it does not, in fact, support the hypothesis fully. Rather, it supports the hypothesis in an indirect way; it does not state otherwise, that the UN Secretary-General has ?possessed any independent power? therefore one is more inclined to see the source as supporting the hypothesis, since it is, at least, furnished with examples of occasions whereby the UN Secretary-General had not possessed independent power, or at least did not appear to. [...]


[...] As can be seen, Source B may be one-sided and limited in its portrayal of the situation. This may be due to the fact that, as the provenance states, it is written by a ?British ambassador to the United Nations?, and he may have harboured the intention of blaming the USSR for the limited efficacy of the Secretary-General, in order to exculpate the West. Furthermore, upon re-evaluation, one notices that Source B may not actually agree with the hypothesis after all. [...]


[...] This way, the modified view then leaves allowance for some acknowledgement, yet still contains the essence of its prototype that the Secretary-General was lacking in independent power. www.oboolo.com References Andrew Boyd, ?United Nations: Piety, Myth and Truth? An American journal written by a leading UN diplomat 1945-86. [...]


[...] Source D seems to disagree with the hypothesis at first. By saying that the Secretary-Generals created for themselves a dispute-settlement role separate and often different from the expressed policy of some, or even most of the members of the United Nations?, it suggests that they had sufficient power to act according to their will, even though it was against the odds (the majority had different, perhaps even conflicting, ideas). This can only mean that they did have independent power, or at least autonomous power, although the specific degree of independence is left unspecified. [...]


[...] Source taken at face value, supports the hypothesis. It hints at the limitations of the Secretary-General's powers, and even his lack of independent power. It states that spectacle of a great power opposing a SecretaryGeneral is not and provides examples: Soviet Union resented Hammarskjold's view that the Secretary-General should act according to his best judgment?, and Eisenhower administration had its disagreements with Hammarskjold over US attempts to bring down the regime in Guatemala?. This appears on the surface to say that there were impediments (the superpowers) to the Secretary-General's independent powers. [...]

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