SIPRI mourns the passing of former member of the SIPRI Governing Board, Sir Brian Urquhart (United Kingdom), who passed away on 2 January 2021 at the age of 101.
Ambassador Jan Eliasson, Chair of the SIPRI Governing Board, says of Urquhart’s passing, ‘Sir Brian was a living legend. He was one of those who created the United Nations out of the ashes after World War II’. He adds, ‘to me, as UN ambassador and later working in the UN, he was an invaluable source of knowledge and wisdom, a mentor and a friend.’
Brian Urquhart was a member of the SIPRI Governing Board from 1986 to 1996. During his mandate, he was invaluable to the research on peacekeeping and regional security and contributed to the publication The Use of Force in UN Peace Operations published by SIPRI Researcher, Trevor Findlay.
Brian Urquhart was the UN Under Secretary-General for Special Political Tasks between 1972 and 1986. He was one of the first UN civil servants, working on peace and security matters, with a particular focus on peacekeeping, and he was an early advocate for a UN volunteer force. Brian Urquhart played a key role in the launch of the first armed UN peacekeeping operation in 1956 and the establishment of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). He has served on several different expert committees and contributed to the current debates about the UN.
Until his retirement in 1986, he directed peacekeeping operations, primarily in Cyprus, Kashmir, the Middle East and Namibia. From 1992 to 1994 he participated actively in the work of the Commission on Global Governance (the Ramphal–Carlsson Commission) and was a Scholar-in-Residence at the Ford Foundation in New York. He was also the author of the leading biography of Dag Hammarskjöld, the second Secretary-General of the UN.
Ambassador Jan Eliasson has also published a tribute to Sir Brian Urquhart in the Swedish newspaper, Dagens Nyheter.