Kofi A. Annan of Ghana, the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations, is the first to be elected from the ranks of UN staff. His first five-year term began on 1 January 1997 and, following his subsequent re-appointment by the UN Member States, he will begin a second five-year term on 1 January 2002.

As Secretary-General, Mr. Annan has given priority to revitalizing the UN through a comprehensive programme of reform; strengthening the Organization’s traditional work in the areas of development and the maintenance of international peace and security; advocating human rights, the rule of law and the universal values of equality, tolerance and human dignity; restoring public confidence in the Organization by reaching out to new partners and, in his words, by “bringing the United Nations closer to the people”. The Secretary-General has also taken a leading role in mobilizing the international community in the battle against HIV/AIDS, and more recently against the global terrorist threat.

Born in Kumasi, Ghana, on 8 April 1938, Mr. Annan studied at the University of Science and Technology in Kumasi and completed his undergraduate work in economics at Macalester College in the United States in 1961. From 1961 to 1962, he undertook graduate studies in economics at the Institut universitaire des hautes études internationales in Geneva. As a 1971- 1972 Sloan Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Mr. Annan received a Master of Science degree in management.

Mr. Annan joined the UN in 1962, working for the World Health Organization in Geneva, where he later also served with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. At UN Headquarters in New York, Mr. Annan held senior positions in a diverse range of areas, including human resources management (1987-1990), budget and finance (1990-1992), and peacekeeping (March 1992-December 1996). He was Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping at a time when nearly 70,000 military and civilian personnel were deployed in UN operations around the world.

Before becoming Secretary-General, Mr. Annan received a number of special assignments. In 1990, he facilitated the repatriation of international staff and citizens of Western countries from Iraq after it invaded Kuwait. He subsequently led initial negotiations with Baghdad on the sale of oil to fund humanitarian relief. From November 1995 to March 1996, Mr. Annan served as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative to the former Yugoslavia. As Secretary-General, Mr. Annan has used his good offices in several delicate political situations, including an attempt in 1998 to gain Iraq’s compliance with Security Council resolutions, as well as a mission that year to promote the transition to civilian rule in Nigeria. In 1999, he helped to resolve the stalemate between Libya and the Security Council, and to forge an international response to violence in East Timor. In 2000, he certified Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon. Since the renewed outbreak of violence in the Middle East in September 2000, he has worked to encourage Israelis and Palestinians to resolve their differences through negotiations based on Security Council resolutions and the principle of “land for peace”.

The Secretary-General has strengthened partnerships with civil society, the private sector and others outside of government whose strengths complement those of the UN. He has called for a “Global Compact” to encourage businesses to respect standards relating to the environment, employment laws and human rights. In April, 2000, he issued a report on the UN’s role in the 21st century, outlining actions needed to end poverty and inequality, improve education, cut HIV/AIDS, safeguard the environment and protect peoples from violence. The report formed the basis of the Millennium Declarations adopted by national leaders attending the UN Millennium Summit that September.

Calling the HIV/AIDS epidemic his “personal priority”, the Secretary- General issued a “Call to Action” in April, 2001, proposing the establishment of a Global AIDS and Health Fund, which has since received some $ 1.5 billion in pledges and contributions.

Since the terrorist attacks hit the United States on 11 September 2001, the Secretary-General has played a leading role in galvanizing global action through the General Assembly and the Security Council to combat terrorism. The Secretary-General has received honorary degrees from universities in Africa, Asia, Europe and North America, as well as a number of other prizes and awards for his contributions to the aims and purposes of the United Nations.

The Secretary-General is fluent in English, French and several African languages. He is married to Nane Annan, of Sweden, a lawyer and painter who has a great interest in understanding the work of the United Nations in the field. Two issues of particular concern to her are HIV/AIDS and education for women. She has also written a book for children about the United Nations. The Annans have three children.

Africa’s Foremost Diplomat

In 2001, its centennial year, the Nobel Committee decided that the Peace Prize was to be divided between the United Nations (UN) and the world organization’s Secretary-General, Kofi Annan. The choice showed the Committee’s traditional support for organized cooperation between states.

Kofi Annan was born in Ghana in 1938. His father was a chief and governor of the Ashanti province. He attended a Methodist school and a technical college in his home country before continuing his academic studies in Switzerland and the United States.

Annan pursued a varied career in the UN system until 1993, when he was appointed Deputy Secretary-General for peacekeeping operations, a position he held until 1997, when he took over as the United Nations’ seventh Secretary-General.

Kofi Annan was awarded the Peace Prize for having revitalized the UN and for having given priority to human rights. The Nobel Committee also recognized his commitment to the struggle to contain the spreading of the HIV virus in Africa and his declared opposition to international terrorism.

Today’s Post of Koffi Annan Foundation.

It is with immense sadness that the Annan family and the Kofi Annan Foundation announce that Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations and Nobel Peace Laureate, passed away peacefully on Saturday 18th August after a short illness. His wife Nane and their children Ama, Kojo and Nina were by his side during his last days.

Kofi Annan was a global statesman and a deeply committed internationalist who fought throughout his life for a fairer and more peaceful world. During his distinguished career and leadership of the United Nations he was an ardent champion of peace, sustainable development, human rights and the rule of law.

After stepping down from the United Nations, he continued to work tirelessly in the cause of peace through his chairmanship of the Kofi Annan Foundation and as chair of The Elders, the group founded by Nelson Mandela. He was an inspiration to young and old alike.

Kofi Annan was a son of Ghana and felt a special responsibility towards Africa. He was particularly committed to African development and deeply engaged in many initiatives, including his chairmanship of the Africa Progress Panel and his early leadership of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).

Wherever there was suffering or need, he reached out and touched many people with his deep compassion and empathy. He selflessly placed others first, radiating genuine kindness, warmth and brilliance in all he did. He will be greatly missed by so many around the world, as well as his staff at the Foundation and his many former colleagues in the United Nations system. He will remain in our hearts forever.

The family kindly requests privacy at this time of mourning. Arrangements to celebrate his remarkable life will be announced later.

Kofi Annan died on 18 August 2018.

 

Adapted from The Nobel Peace Prize 2001, News Australia and Kofi Annan Foundation.

 

 

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