Trygve Lie

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Person.png Trygve Lie  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Trygve Lie 1938.jpg
BornTrygve Halvdan Lie
16 July 1896
Oslo, Norway, United Kingdoms of Sweden and Norway
Died30 December 1968 (Age 72)
Geilo, Norway
Children • Sissel
• Guri
• Mette
PartyNorwegian Labour Party
Norwegian politician. UN "Godfather" of the state of Israel

Employment.png Secretary-General of the United Nations

In office
2 February 1946 - 10 November 1952
Succeeded byDag Hammarskjöld

Employment.png Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs

In office
19 November 1940 - 2 February 1946

Employment.png Norwegian Minister of Justice

In office
20 March 1935 - 1 July 1939

Trygve Halvdan Lie was a Norwegian politician, labour leader, government official and author. He was Norwegian foreign minister during the critical years of the Norwegian government in exile in London from 1940 to 1945. From 1946 to 1952 he was the first Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Early life

Lie was born in Kristiania (now Oslo) on 16 July 1896. His father, carpenter Martin Lie, left the family to emigrate to the United States in 1902, and was never heard from again. Trygve grew up under poor conditions together with his mother Hulda and a sister who was six at the time. His mother ran a boarding house and café in Grorud in Oslo.[1]

Lie joined the Labour Party in 1911 and was named as the party's national secretary soon after receiving his law degree from the University of Oslo in 1919. Lie was editor-in-chief for Det 20de Aarhundre ('The 20th Century') from 1919 to 1921. From 1922 to 1935 he was a legal consultant for the Workers' National Trade Union (named Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions from 1957). He chaired the Norwegian Workers' Confederation of Sports from 1931 to 1935.[2]

Political career

In local politics he was a member of the executive committee of Aker municipality council from 1922 to 1931. He was elected to the Norwegian Parliament from Akershus in 1937. He was appointed Minister of Justice when a Labour Party government was formed by Johan Nygaardsvold in 1935. Lie was later appointed Minister of Trade (July to October 1939) and Minister of Supplies (October 1939 to 1941).

A socialist from an early age, Lie once met Vladimir Lenin while on a Labour Party visit to Moscow, and in 1935 gave permission for Leon Trotsky to settle in Norway after he was exiled from the Soviet Union.[1] However, because of pressure from the Soviet Union, he forced Trotsky to leave the country.[3]

When Nazi Germany invaded Norway in 1940, Lie ordered all Norwegian ships to sail to Allied ports. In 1941, Lie was named as Foreign Minister of the Norwegian government-in-exile, and he remained in this position until 1946.[4]

United Nations career

Lie led the Norwegian delegation to the United Nations conference in San Francisco in 1945 and was a leader in drafting the provisions of the United Nations Security Council. He was the leader of the Norwegian delegation to the United Nations General Assembly in 1946. On 1 February 1946, he was elected as the first Secretary-General of the United Nations as a result of a compromise between the major powers, having missed being elected President of the first General Assembly by only a small margin.

As Secretary-General, Lie supported the foundations of Israel. His passionate support for Israel included passing secret military and diplomatic information to Israeli officials.<ref{Waage, Hilde Henriksen (2011). "The Winner Takes All: The 1949 Island of Rhodes Armistice Negotiations Revisited". Middle East Journal. 65 (2): 279–304</ref> He sent 50 members of the United Nations guard force from Lake Success to assist the Mediator in supervising the Truce in the former British Mandate of Palestine in 1948 and the "UNTSO", the first peacekeeping operation was established by the United Nations.[5]

He worked for the withdrawal of Soviet forces in Iran and a ceasefire to fighting in Kashmir. He attracted the ire of the Soviet Union when he helped gather support for the defence of South Korea after it was invaded[6] in 1950 and later worked to end the Soviet boycott of UN meetings, though his involvement had little to do with the eventual return of the Soviet Union to the UN. He was opposed to Spain's entry into the United Nations because of his opposition to Francisco Franco's government.[7]

He also sought to have the People's Republic of China recognized by the United Nations after the Nationalist government was exiled to Taiwan, arguing that the People's Republic was the only government that could fulfill the membership obligations in full.[6][8]

He has been criticized for his failures to facilitate negotiation in the so-called Berlin Blockade, as well as his failure to bring about a swifter end to the Korean War. His critics argue that he was under the influence of a select few in the UN Secretariat. He has also been criticized for his arrogance and stubbornness.

On 1 November 1950, over objections by the Soviet Union, the UN General Assembly voted by 46 votes to 5 (and 8 abstentions) to extend Lie's term of office.[9] The vote was a consequence of an impasse in the Security Council in which the Soviet Union refused to consider Lie due to his involvement in the Korean War, while the US refused to accept any candidate except Lie. The Soviet Union subsequently refused to acknowledge Lie as Secretary-General and. Having been accused by Joseph McCarthy of hiring "disloyal" Americans, he refused to protect his employees, and excused himself with the pressing need for civil servants following the establishment of the UN. Lie resigned on 10 November 1952.[10]

The UN came under US official scrutiny after the conviction of Alger Hiss, who had been acting Secretary General at the first convening of the UN in San Francisco (in 1945). A State Department report dated 17 January 1951, states:

Subject: McCarran Act—Possible Conflict with Headquarters Agreement
In conversation with Abe Feller in New York recently he expressed the view that the regulations which have been issued under the McCarran Act make it fairly clear to him that there is likely to be some conflict between that Act and the way in which it is being interpreted and the Headquarters Agreement. He expressed the view that in the event of such conflict the UN secretariat would be forced to resort to the arbitration procedure under the Agreement. He stated he thought this would be very unfortunate and wondered whether any consideration was being given to a general amendment to the McCarran Act which would waive its provisions so far as it conflicted with international obligations or international agreements. I told him I did not know whether any amendments were under consideration but that I would bring his view to your attention.[11]

Abraham Feller, General Counsel and Principal Director, Legal Department, United Nations Secretariat, was "reportedly" a "close friend" of Alger Hiss.[12] On 14 November 1952, just days after Lie's resignation from the UN, Feller committed suicide by jumping out of the window of his apartment in New York City.[13]

After the United Nations

Lie remained active in Norwegian politics after his resignation from the UN. He was the County Governor of Oslo and Akershus, Chairman of the Board of Energy, Minister of Industry,[14] and Minister of Trade and Shipping. He wrote a number of books, including In the Cause of Peace, an account of his years at the UN.[4]

Personal life and death

Lie married Hjørdis Jørgensen (1898–1960) in 1921. The couple had three daughters; Sissel, Guri, and Mette.

Lie died on 30 December 1968 of a heart attack in Geilo, Norway. He was 72 years old.[15]

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