Sir Brian Edward Urquhart was a British international civil servant, author and World War II veteran. He played a significant role in the founding of the United Nations. He went on to serve as its Under-Secretary-General for Special Political Affairs. Urquhart was a member of the British diplomatic staff involved in the setting-up of the United Nations in 1945, assisting the Executive Committee of the Preparatory Commission of the United Nations in establishing the administrative framework of the organisation that had been created by the U.N. Charter. He subsequently became an aide to Trygve Lie, the first Secretary-General of the United Nations. Urquhart helped handle the administrative and logistical challenges involved in getting the U.N. established in New York City. Not particularly well liked by Lie, Urquhart was subsequently moved to a minor U.N. administrative post. When Dag Hammarskjöld became the second Secretary-General in 1953, however, he appointed Urquhart as one of his main advisors.He loyally served by Hammarskjöld’s side until the latter’s death in 1961, admiring him greatly in spite of admittedly never getting to know him very well on a personal level. During the Suez Crisis of 1956, Urquhart played a critical role in creating what turned out to be the first major U.N. effort towards conflict resolution and peacekeeping. Urquhart, as Hammarskjöld’s only major adviser with military experience, took the lead in organising the first U.N. peacekeeping force, which was designed to separate the Egyptian and Israeli forces then fighting each other in the Sinai Peninsula. To differentiate the peacekeepers from other soldiers, the U.N. wanted to have the soldiers wear blue berets. When it turned out that those would take six weeks to make, Urquhart proposed the characteristic blue helmets, which could be converted in a day by painting over regular ones. Urquhart died on 2 January 2021 at his home in Tyringham, Massachusetts. He was 101.
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