Monthly Archives: April 2015

Štvorlístok

The four-leaf clover – Štvorlístok in Slovak – was the symbol of the Fabry family, and finding them and tucking them into books is something our family still does. Here is the first one of the year, a gift found by my husband, my biggest fan and number one supporter.

First Four-Leaf Clover of 2015

I’ve pressed it in my favorite book, “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass” – a man who shares first place with Socrates on my list of heroes. Here is an observation by Douglass that truly inspires me:

“Very soon after I went to live with Mr. and Mrs. Auld, she very kindly commenced to teach me the A, B, C. After I had learned this, she assisted me in learning to spell words of three and four letters. Just at this point of my progress, Mr. Auld found out what was going on, and at once forbade Mrs. Auld to instruct me further, he said, “If you give a nigger an inch, he will take an ell. A nigger should know nothing but to obey his master–to do as he is told to do. Learning would spoil the best nigger in the world. Now,” said he, “if you teach that nigger (speaking of myself) how to read, there would be no keeping him. It would forever unfit him to be a slave. He would at once become unmanageable, and of no value to his master. As to himself, it could do him no good, but a great deal of harm. It would make him discontented and unhappy.” These words sank deep into my heart, stirred up sentiments within that lay slumbering, and called into existence an entirely new train of thought. It was a new and special revelation, explaining dark and mysterious things, with which my youthful understanding had struggled, but struggled in vain. I now understood what had been to me a most perplexing difficulty–to wit, the white man’s power to enslave the black man. It was a grand achievement, and I prized it highly. From that moment, I understood the pathway from slavery to freedom. It was just what I wanted, and I got it at a time when I the least expected it. Whilst I was saddened by the thought of losing the aid of my kind mistress, I was gladdened by the invaluable instruction which, by the merest accident, I had gained from my master. Though conscious of the difficulty of learning without a teacher, I set out with high hope, and a fixed purpose, at whatever cost of trouble, to learn how to read. The very decided manner with which he spoke, and strove to impress his wife with the evil consequences of giving me instruction, served to convince me that he was deeply sensible of the truths he was uttering. It gave me the best assurance that I might rely with the utmost confidence on the results which, he said, would flow from teaching me to read. What he most dreaded, that I most desired. What he most loved, that I most hated. That which to him was a great evil, to be carefully shunned, was to me a great good, to be diligently sought; and the argument which he so warmly urged, against my learning to read, only served to inspire me with a desire and determination to learn. In learning to read, I owe almost as much to the bitter opposition of my master, as to the kindly aid of my mistress. I acknowledge the benefit of both.”

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Paying It Forward

Earlier this month, I was on my way to the library with a stack of UN Archives request forms, to take the final step of entering the data into the computer and sending it to the archivists in New York. I stopped to pick up coffee and chocolate at the little grocery and met a friend there, a poet, who has been following the news of the investigation about Dag Hammarskjold, so I showed him what I was doing. Then he asked me – What is the story to you? What are the lessons you have learned in all this? I’ve been thinking about that a lot, since I am at a crossroads with where I am going next, but I will try to answer.

What I have learned from Vlado is that love gives us the courage to take risks, and that we must take risks to make peace in this world. Vlado lost everything – his home, his country, his nationality, and he was separated from his friends and family for long periods of time. From the age of 25 until his death at age 40, his home, his family, his tribe was the United Nations, and he gave all his heart and mind to it. He worked hard, not only because of his personal integrity and strong ethic, but because he needed to belong to a tribe who encouraged him to take risks for peace. He was just so joyful in everything he did – even in his letters of complaints he seems to be enjoying himself – his pluck has inspired me to be happy in everything I do.

Hammarskjold wrote “Pray that your loneliness may spur you into finding something to live for, great enough to die for.” It was out of gratitude for what was given to me, and a need for friends to share this story with, that made me start writing here, back in March 2013. Above all, this blog has been a goodwill effort towards the family members of all those who died in Ndola for peace, to the ideals of the United Nations, to the people of Africa and the world, and every single person that has contributed in some part in holding up the memory of Hammarskjold with their research, everything I’ve learned has come from their devotion to his memory. And to all the kind friends who have reached out to me in generosity – thank you for all that you’ve taught me, for inspiring me to keep writing and learning, and for this time when I’ve felt part of something bigger than myself.

Unicorn (7)

Periodic Reports of Vlado: 1953 and 1955

Time for a performance review! A couple of United Nations periodic reports for Vlado that I found, which give a little more detail into the work he was doing from the period of September 1951 to 15 June 1953, and from the period of June 1953 to April 1955. This first document quotes the Secretary of the Committee on Restrictive Business Practices: “His competence, accuracy and industry in the production of legal research was outstanding. He put in a backbreaking amount of overtime, and displayed good judgement, understanding and tact on all his assignments.”

Click image to enlarge.
Vlado UN Periodic Report 1952

This second document, dated 12-4-55, is what made me believe Vlado was one of the “lawyers deeply versed in international law”, mentioned in Roger Lipsey’s biography HAMMARSKJOLD: A LIFE (chap.10, para.4); who were working long hours through the night to add the provision to Article 98 “…and shall perform such other functions as are entrusted to him by these organs” – the provision gave Hammarskjold the entitlement to negotiate directly with Chinese officials in Peking, in January 1955, to release 17 American fliers that were being held for investigation.

Vlado UN Periodic Report 1955

I had wondered why I had a copy of Article 98 (in a previous post) that was labelled “First Draft” with the initials “VF/sf”, when that Article was originally adopted on 25 June 1945. While the mention of Vlado’s “application of Article 98 of the Charter” in this document still doesn’t confirm if my belief is correct, it does seems to point in that direction – that he was involved in another important event in the history of the United Nations.

“During the period in question Mr. Fabry has performed his duties in a most satisfactory manner, and has continued to justify the favourable comments made in his previous periodic report.

His work during this period has extended to a wide variety of questions covering such areas as technical assistance, restrictive business practices, UNWRA problems and financial questions. He has also dealt competently with a number of difficult problems of international law. In addition to handling current legal questions in the above named fields, he has prepared or assisted in the preparation of several comprehensive legal studies, as for example, in respect of the Jordan Valley Project, the organization of the proposed atomic energy agency, analysis of South African law, and the application of Article 98 of the Charter.

In all of his assignments Mr. Fabry’s work has been thorough and reliable, revealing mature judgement and a well-considered approach to both the legal and policy issues. The legal experience which he has acquired in the last three years as well as his previous work with the Indonesian Mission have enabled him to assume assignments of increasing difficulty and responsibility, and he can now be regarded as one of the most useful legal officers in the Division.

His attitude and conduct have been above reproach, and his relations with others both within the Department and outside have been entirely satisfactory.

Mr. Fabry has proved to be a valuable member of the Office of Legal Affairs.

Signed: Oscar Schachter, Supervisor

Signed: C.A. Stavropoulos”

“His attitude and conduct have been above reproach” – who wouldn’t save reviews like this!