Brian Urquhart, Troubleshooter for the U.N., Dies at 101

In a postwar period rife with revolutions, regional disputes and Cold War conflicts, darkened by fears of an East-West nuclear conflagration, Mr. Urquhart deployed and infrequently led his frivolously armed peacekeepers into warfare zones within the Middle East, Congo, southern Africa, Kashmir, Cyprus and different locations. They generally did not defuse explosive conditions, however usually succeeded in easing tensions and helping refugees.

“The United Nations may have been shoved to the sidelines long ago when it came to the political ordering of the world,” Madeleine G. Kalb wrote in a New York Times Magazine profile of Mr. Urquhart in 1982. “Yet the United Nations has undeniably chalked up one proud success — peacekeeping in conflicts where the vital interests of the great powers were not directly involved.”

As the disaster negotiator in taking pictures wars, he was usually at risk. In Congo in 1961, attempting to subdue a secessionist Katanga Province, he was kidnapped, held for hours and stomped and crushed with rifles by insurgent troops, till Katanga’s president, Moise Tshombe, intervened to save lots of his life.

By 1986, when Mr. Urquhart retired, he had directed 13 peacekeeping operations, recruited a power of 10,000 troops from 23 nations and established peacekeeping as one of many United Nations’ most seen and politically standard capabilities. In an editorial, The New York Times hailed him as a visionary soldier of peace.

“Mr. Urquhart persists in believing that the Soviet Union and the United States may yet find it in their interest to join in peacekeeping operations that can contain local conflicts,” the editorial mentioned. “As Mr. Urquhart asks in reflecting upon his life’s service, ‘Why should not the lion sometimes lie down with the lion, instead of terrifying all the lambs by their mutual hostility?’”

The U.N. peacekeeping forces received the 1988 Nobel Peace Prize.

Brian Edward Urquhart was born on Feb. 28, 1919, within the southwest of England, within the city of Bridport, considered one of two sons of Murray and Bertha (Rendall) Urquhart. His father give up the household when he was 7. His mom taught at Badminton School in Bristol and, along with his brother Andrew at college elsewhere, she enrolled Brian as the one boy amongst 200 ladies there. One of his classmates was Indira Nehru, who turned Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of India.

He graduated from Westminster School in London in 1937. After two years at Oxford University, he joined the British Army when World War II started in 1939. During coaching camp in 1942, his parachute partly failed within the final moments of a bounce; he recalled wanting up at its “tulip shape” as he plunged right into a plowed area. Severely injured, he was advised he would possibly by no means stroll once more. But inside a 12 months he had rejoined his unit and noticed motion in North Africa and Sicily.