Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General, dies at 80

Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General passed away on August 18 after a short illness. He was 88. He was the only African to helm the post of UN Chief. He served for two terms from 1997 to 2006. He was also awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001 for his humanitarian work.

Created On: Aug 20, 2018 10:30 ISTModified On: Sep 18, 2018 18:12 IST
Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General, dies at 80

Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General passed away on August 18, 2018 after a short illness. He was 80.

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".

Annan passed away at a hospital in Bern, Switzerland. He had been living near Geneva for several years. His home country, Ghana, has declared a week of national mourning. He is survived by his wife Nane and three children.

Kofi Annan and UN

Kofi Annan first joined the UN in 1962 as an administrative and budget officer with the World Health Organisation in Geneva.

He later served with the Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa, the UN Emergency Force (UNEF II) in Ismailia, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Geneva.

He also served as Special Representative of the Secretary-General to the former Yugoslavia (1995-1996) and facilitated the repatriation from Iraq of more than 900 international staff and other non-Iraqi nationals in 1990.

Before becoming the Secretary-General, he served as the head of the United Nations peacekeeping operations from 1993 to 1997.

In 1997, Annan became the first African to take up the role of Secretary General at the United Nations. He served two terms as the chief of United Nations, from 1997 to 2006.

He was the first Secretary-General to be appointed from within the organisation’s ranks.

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

 Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General, dies at 80

Key Details

Annan was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001 for helping to revitalise the United Nations, during a period that coincided with the Iraq War and the HIV/Aids pandemic.

In 2007, after his term ended in the UN, he set up his own foundation ‘Kofi Annan Foundation’ aimed at promoting global sustainable development, security and peace.

A year later, he successfully helped negotiate a power-sharing deal to end post-election violence in Kenya. In his tribute, Raila Odinga, Kenya’s opposition leader who had signed the agreement, called Annan the man who stepped in and saved the country from collapse.

In 2012, Annan was made the chair of The Elders, an international peace and human rights advocacy group founded by South Africa's Nelson Mandela.

In February 2012, Annan was appointed as the UN–Arab League Joint Special Representative for Syria, to help find a resolution to the ongoing conflict there. However, he quit his post after only six months in the role, after becoming frustrated with the UN's lack of progress with regard to conflict resolution.

In September 2016, Annan was appointed to lead a UN commission to investigate Myanmar's Rohingya crisis.

 Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General, dies at 80

Critics of Kofi Annan

As the head of the United Nations peacekeeping operations from 1993 to 1997, Annan faced heavy criticism for the UN's failure to halt the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 that lead to the killing of more than 800,000 Rwandans and the massacre of 8,000 Bosnian Muslims by Bosnian Serb forces at Srebrenica in 1995.

Later, after the US-led invasion of Iraq, Annan and his son were accused of being involved in the "oil for food corruption scandal" that led some to call for his resignation, though he was later exonerated.

 Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General, dies at 80

Kofi Annan’s Key Initiatives

Annan pushed for reforms to rebuild the United Nations and make it more effective. In March 2000, he appointed a Panel on United Nations Peace Operations to assess the shortcomings of the then existing system and to make specific and realistic recommendations for change. The panel was composed of individuals experienced in conflict prevention, peacekeeping and peacebuilding. The report it produced came to be known as the Brahimi Report, named after the panel’s chair Lakhdar Brahimi.

In 2000, Annan also issued a report entitled "We the peoples: the role of the United Nations in the 21st century". The report called for member states to put people at the centre of everything.

At the Millennium Summit in September 2000, national leaders adopted the Millennium Declaration, which was subsequently implemented by the United Nations Secretariat as the Millennium Development Goals in 2001.

Within the "We the Peoples" document, Annan also suggested the establishment of a United Nations Information Technology Service (UNITeS), a group of high-tech volunteer corps.

In April 2001, Annan issued a five-point "Call to Action" to address the HIV/AIDS pandemic. He proposed the establishment of a Global AIDS and Health Fund, dedicated to the battle against HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases.

In June 2001, the UN General Assembly committed to the creation of such a fund during a special session on AIDS and the permanent secretariat of the Global Fund was subsequently established in January 2002.


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