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Trygve Lie

1st Secretary-General of the United Nations

Trygve Halvdan Lie (About this sound/ˌtɾygʋə 'li:ə/ ) (16 July 1896 – 30 December 1968) was a Norwegian politician. From 1946 to 1952 he was the first elected Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Trygve Lie
Trygve Lie 1938.jpg
Trygve Lie in 1938
1st Secretary-General of the United Nations
In office
2 February 1946 – 10 November 1952
Preceded byGladwyn Jebb (acting)
Succeeded byDag Hammarskjöld
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
19 November 1940 – 2 February 1946
MonarchHaakon VII
Prime MinisterJohan Nygaardsvold
Einar Gerhardsen
Preceded byHalvdan Koht
Succeeded byHalvard Lange
Minister of Justice
In office
20 March 1935 – 1 July 1939
Prime MinisterJohan Nygaardsvold
Preceded byArne Sunde
Succeeded byTerje Wold
Minister of Trade and Industry
In office
4 July 1963 – 28 August 1963
Prime MinisterEinar Gerhardsen
Preceded byKjell Holler
Succeeded byKaare Meland
In office
25 September 1963 – 20 January 1964
Prime MinisterEinar Gerhardsen
Preceded byKaare Meland
Succeeded byKarl Trasti
Minister of Trade and Shipping
In office
20 January 1964 – 12 October 1965
Prime MinisterEinar Gerhardsen
Preceded byErik Himle
Succeeded byKåre Willoch
Member of the Norwegian Parliament
In office
1 January 1937 – 31 December 1949
Personal details
Trygve Halvdan Lie

(1896-07-16)16 July 1896
Oslo, Norway, United Kingdoms of Sweden and Norway
Died30 December 1968(1968-12-30) (aged 72)
Geilo, Norway
Political partyNorwegian Labour Party
Spouse(s)Hjørdis Jørgensen (married 1921, died 1960)
ChildrenSissel, Guri, Mette

Early lifeEdit

Lie was born in Oslo (then Kristiania) on 16 July 1896. He joined the Labour Party in 1911 and was named as the party's national secretary soon after getting his law degree from the University of Oslo in 1919. He married Hjørdis Jørgensen in 1921; the couple had three daughters, Sissel, Guri, and Mette.

Political careerEdit

Later he was elected to the Storting (Norway's Parliament). He was appointed Minister of Justice when a Labour Party government was formed by Johan Nygaardsvold in 1935. Lie was later named Minister of Trade and Industries and Minister of Supply and Shipping.

In 1940, when Norway was invaded by Germany, Lie ordered all Norwegian ships to sail to Allied ports. Lie was named as Foreign Minister of the Norwegian government-in-exile.

Selection as UN Secretary GeneralEdit

Lie led the Norwegian delegation (group) to the United Nations conference in San Francisco in 1946 and was a leader in drafting the rules to set up the United Nations Security Council. He was the leader of the Norwegian delegation to the United Nations general assembly in 1946. On February 1, 1946, he was elected as the first United Nations Secretary-General as a result of a compromise between the major powers, having only missed being elected President of the first General Assembly by a small margin. He gets much of the credit for securing the current site for the United Nations headquarters from John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and establishing the offices there.

As Secretary GeneralEdit

As Secretary General, Lie supported the foundation of Israel and Indonesia. He worked for the withdrawal of Soviet forces in Iran and a stop to fighting in Kashmir. He attracted the anger of the Soviet Union when he helped gather support for the defence of South Korea after it was invaded in 1950 and later worked to end the Soviet boycott of UN meetings, though his involvement has only 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 the Franco government. 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 which could fulfill the membership obligations in full. This did not happen until the 1970s.

He has been criticized for his failures to facilitate negotiation in the Berlin Blockade, as well as his failure to bring about a more swift 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.

Over objections from the Soviet Union, his term of office was extended by the General Assembly 46 - 5 in 1950. This was the result of a Security Council impasse, in which the US refused to accept any candidate but Lie, and the Soviet Union's absolute refusal to accept him again, due to his involvement in the Korean War. The Soviet Union refused to acknowledge him as secretary general in his second term, and after having been accused by Joseph McCarthy of hiring "disloyal" Americans (an allegation which he attributed to the rapid hiring of civil servants necessary after the creation of the organization), Lie resigned on November 10, 1952.

Later lifeEdit

Lie remained active in Norwegian politics after his resignation from the UN. He was the Governor of Oslo and Akershus, Chairman of the Board of Energy, Minister of the Interior, and Minister of Trade.


Lie died on December 30, 1968 of a heart attack. He was 72 years old.

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