Former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan dies

FE Online Desk | Published: August 18, 2018 15:44:30 | Updated: August 19, 2018 12:10:41


Former United Nations Secretary General and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Kofi Annan has died at the age of 80 after a short illness, the Kofi Annan Foundation said on Saturday.

The Ghanaian was the seventh secretary general of the UN who served for two terms between 1997 and 2006 and won the Nobel peace prize in 2001 for his humanitarian work.

Annan passed away peacefully at a hospital in Bern of Switzerland in the early hours of Saturday, the foundation named after him said, report BBC, Reuters and The Guardian.

The diplomat had been living in Switzerland for several years.

In a statement announcing his death, the Kofi Annan Foundation described him as a "global statesman and deeply committed internationalist who fought throughout his life for a fairer and more peaceful world".

"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," the statement said.

The statement added that Annan, who succeeded Boutros Boutros-Ghali as UN leader, was a “son of Ghana and felt a special responsibility towards Africa”.

Born in Kumasi, Ghana, on 8 April 1938, Annan was the first black African to take up the role of the world's top diplomat.

He joined the UN system in 1962 as an administrative officer with the World Health Organization in Geneva.

Annan later served with the Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa, the UN Emergency Force in Ismailia, the UN high commissioner for refugees in Geneva and in several senior posts at its headquarters in New York.

Before becoming secretary general, he was under-secretary general for peacekeeping and also served as special representative of the secretary general to the former Yugoslavia between 1995 and 1996.

Annan used his final speech as secretary general in December 2006 to deliver a parting shot at the administration of George W Bush, accusing the US of committing human rights abuses in the name of fighting terror.

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001 for helping to revitalise the international body.

The diplomat's tenure as UN secretary-general coincided with the Iraq War and the HIV/Aids pandemic.

Kofi Annan later served as the UN special envoy for Syria, leading efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict.

Annan also served as the head of an advisory panel formed by Myanmar government to find “lasting solutions” to the conflict in Rakhine state, where human rights groups have documented widespread abuses against the minority Rohingya Muslims.

Kofi Annan described his greatest achievement as the Millennium Development Goals which - for the first time - set global targets on issues such as poverty and child mortality.

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