1961 is a common year starting on a Sunday.
April 12: First orbital flight of a man in space, Yuri Gagarin, aboard the Vostok 1.
April 16-20: Failed Bay of Pigs landing in Cuba by militarized Cuban exiles, supported by the United States.
21 - 26 April: putsch of the generals in Algiers.
June 2-3: Kennedy-Khrushchev summit in Vienna (Austria); beginning of "peaceful coexistence".
August 12-13: Construction of the Berlin Wall begins.
October 17: opening of the congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) devoting the break with China.
December 10: The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded posthumously to Swede Dag Hammarskjöld.
March 30: holding of the single convention on narcotic drugs in New York under the aegis of the UN which prohibits the production, trade, possession and use of coca, opium, cannabis and their derivatives ( except for medical purposes) for signatory countries.
May 28: The London daily newspaper The Observer publishes Peter Benenson's Appeal for Amnesty 1961. This initiative led to the founding of the Amnesty International movement.
June 23: Entry into force of the Antarctic Treaty.
September 1-September 6: Tito organizes a conference of non-aligned states in Belgrade, with the participation of 25 countries. Yugoslavia, India and Egypt are the leading nations of the group of non-aligned countries in its early years.
September 9: adjournment of the conference on nuclear disarmament (Geneva), without France.
September 18: Dag Hammarskjöld, Secretary General of the United Nations, dies in a plane crash in Rhodesia.
November 3: the Burmese U Thant, known as “Mister U”, is appointed Secretary General of the United Nations.
December 20: UN resolution on the status of celestial bodies; they can be freely explored by all States and are not subject to national appropriation.
January 3: Houphouët-Boigny government in Côte d'Ivoire. January 3-7: The Casablanca conference brings together the most "progressive" African governments. It adopts the Casablanca African Charter signed by representatives of Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Morocco, the RAU and the GPRA. It defines supranational objectives, including the creation of an African common market and a single African citizenship. It supports territories struggling for independence. The "Casablanca group" comes out in favor of the government of Patrice Lumumba in Congo-Kinshasa. January 17, Congolese crisis: assassination of Patrice Lumumba, Prime Minister of Congo-Kinshasa. One of his supporters, Antoine Gizenga, Deputy Prime Minister of the government continues the government in Stanleyville (Kisangani).
January 19: resignation of Modibo Keïta. After having set up a new cabinet, he was reinvested the next day unanimously by the voters of the National Assembly of Mali. In March, in Ségou, he calls for austerity and in October, he decides to launch Mali's first five-year plan.
January 20: Modibo Keïta requests the rapid evacuation of all French bases in Mali (2,200 men, who monitor the border with Algeria). This withdrawal was completed in September. February 4: start of the nationalist rebellion in Angola supported by the Soviet Union (1961-1974). Riot in Luanda where rebels attack prisons, followed by a massive peasant uprising (February-March). Members of the MPLA kill 2000 Portuguese settlers, triggering the War of Independence (1961-1974). The insurrection is subdued in blood from February 5.
February 11: referendum in British Cameroon; the