Together with Sture Linnér (1917-2010) he presented the annual Dag Hammarskjöld Lecture on 15 October 2007.
Sverker Åström served in the Swedish Foreign Service since 1939 and worked closely with Dag Hammarskjöld since 1948, when both were involved as Swedish government officials in the negotiations for the Marshall Plan Aid. Åström was chief of staff during Hammarskjöld’s time as State Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Minister without portfolio in the 1950s. The two developed a close and lasting personal friendship.
At the beginning of his Lecture on “Dag Hammarskjöld and International Law in the World Today” Åström reminded the big audience in the aula of Uppsala University that Hammarskjöld “wanted to build a world order that could ensure peace and create a foundation for the happiness and prosperity of future generations. … he always returned to the idea of the particular importance of international law as a shield for the interests of small states against the arrogance of major powers”. And he ended his speech with “a deeply felt personal declaration that I am proud and happy to have been a friend of, and in my professional life been able to work with, one of the great Swedish figures of the last century”.
Sverker Åström lived similar values to those of Hammarskjöld and thereby kept his lasting legacy alive. He was a role model of integrity and civil courage as the virtues of a civil servant. On occasion of Jan Eliasson’s 70th birthday in September 2010 he made as Eliasson’s former mentor one of his last public appearances. His speech proved that he was still sharp minded, reflective and good-humored, though physically frail.
Without him Sweden is poorer. We shall miss him.