RIP Kofi Annan (1938-2018)
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RIP Kofi Annan (1938-2018)

By IndraStra Global News Team

RIP Kofi Annan (1938-2018)

Image Attribute: Kofi Annan at World Economic Forum on Africa, 2007 / Source: Wikimedia Commons

On August 18, 2018,  in the early hours, former United Nations (UN) Secretary-General (7th) Kofi Annan died in a hospital in Bern, Switzerland at the age of 80 of an unspecified illness.

"It is with immense sadness that the Annan family and the Kofi Annan Foundation announce that Kofi Annan…passed away peacefully…after a short illness," the foundation said in a statement. The ex-Secretary-General founded his foundation in the year 2007 as an independent, not-for-profit organization that works to promote better global governance and strengthen the capacities of people and countries to achieve a fairer, more peaceful world.

Born in Kumasi, Annan went on to study economics at Macalester College, international relations from the Graduate Institute Geneva and management at MIT. Annan joined the UN in 1962, as an administrative and budget officer with the World Health Organization's Geneva office. He went on to work in several capacities at the UN Headquarters including serving as the Under-Secretary-General for peacekeeping between March 1992 and December 1996. He later became first UN official to head the organization from January 1, 1997, to December 31, 2006.

World leaders paid tribute to Annan, who became the UN's first black African secretary-general through the following statements;

Ghanian President Nana Akufo-Addo said "Consummate international diplomat and highly respected former Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Kofi Annan was the first from sub-Saharan Africa to occupy this exalted position. He brought considerable renown to our country by this position and through his conduct and comportment in the global arena. He was an ardent believer in the capacity of the Ghanaian to chart his or her own course onto the path of progress and prosperity."

British Prime Minister Theresa May said, "A great leader and reformer of the UN, he made a huge contribution to making the world he has left a better place than the one he was born into."

French President Emmanuel Macron said that "we will never forget his calm and resolute look, nor his strength in battles," while British Prime Minister Theresa May said Annan "made a huge contribution to making the world he has left a better place than the one he was born into."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Annan "inspired me and many others with his ideas, his firm convictions and, not least, his charisma."

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he "sincerely admired his wisdom and courage as well as his ability to make balanced decisions even under the most dire and critical circumstances."

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, “Kofi Annan’s significant contribution to the MDGs (Millenium Development Goals) will always be remembered. My thoughts are with his family and admirers in this hour of grief. May his soul rest in peace.”

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar described the deceased former Secretary-General as "a true multilateralist".

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said Annan was "a great leader and diplomat extraordinaire" who had advanced the African agenda within the United Nations and had "flown the flag for peace" around the world.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama said Annan "embodied the mission of the United Nations like few others."

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the former UN chief "spent his life advocating for peace and human dignity during his long career at the United Nations."

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted “A towering global leader and an unwavering champion for peace, justice, and rule of law. Rest in peace, my dear old friend.”

However, Annan had acquired a fair share of criticism as a head of UN peacekeeping operations in the 1990s. He was harshly criticized for the UN's failure to stop the Rwandan genocide in 1994 and to prevent the massacre of more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica in 1995.

Despite the criticism, in the year 2001, he and the United Nations were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace. Kofi Annan was praised for being "pre-eminent in bringing new life to the organization." 

In his later life (post-retirement), he was appointed as UN–Arab League Joint Special Envoy for Syria, mandated to seek a resolution to the conflict there, from February to August 2012. He also became the founding Chairman of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), which works for a food secure and prosperous Africa by promoting rapid, sustainable agricultural growth based on smallholder farmers. Also, he chaired the African Progress Panel, which advocates at the highest level for equitable and sustainable development in Africa.

He is survived by his wife Nane and three children.

With reporting by BBC, RFE/RL, and Reuters