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Kofi Annan, former UN secretary-general, dies at age 80

Kofi Annan, former UN secretary-general, dies at age 80

By John Heilprin and Francis Kokutse | Related Press

GENEVA (AP) — Kofi Annan, one of many world’s most celebrated diplomats and a charismatic image of the United Nations who rose via its ranks to grow to be the primary black African secretary-general, has died. He was 80.

His basis introduced his dying in Switzerland’s capital, Bern, on Saturday in a tweet, saying he died after a brief unspecified sickness. It didn’t give particulars and remembered the Nobel Peace Prize winner as “radiating genuine kindness, warmth and brilliance in all he did.”

It’s with immense unhappiness that the Annan household and the Kofi Annan Basis announce that Kofi Annan, former Secretary Common of the United Nations and Nobel Peace Laureate, handed away peacefully on Saturday 18th August after a brief sickness…

— Kofi Annan Basis (@KofiAnnanFdn) August 18, 2018

The president of Ghana, the place Annan was born, stated in a tweet that “I am … comforted by the information, after speaking to (Annan’s wife) Nane Maria, that he died peacefully in his sleep.”

Annan spent nearly his complete profession as an administrator within the United Nations. His aristocratic fashion, cool-tempered magnificence and political savvy helped information his ascent to turn out to be its seventh secretary-general, and the primary employed from inside. He served two phrases from Jan. 1, 1997, to Dec. 31, 2006, capped almost mid-way when he and the U.N. have been collectively awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001.

Throughout his tenure, Annan presided over a number of the worst failures and scandals at the world physique, one among its most turbulent durations since its founding in 1945. Challenges from the outset pressured him to spend a lot of his time struggling to revive its tarnished status.

His enduring ethical status remained largely undented, nevertheless, each by way of charisma and by advantage of getting negotiated with a lot of the powers on the planet.

When he departed from the United Nations, he left behind a worldwide group much more aggressively engaged in peacekeeping and preventing poverty, setting the framework for the U.N.’s 21st-century response to mass atrocities and its emphasis on human rights and improvement.

“Kofi Annan was a guiding force for good,” present U.N. Secretary-Common Antonio Guterres stated. “It is with profound sadness that I learned of his passing. In many ways, Kofi Annan was the United Nations. He rose through the ranks to lead the organization into the new millennium with matchless dignity and determination.”

Kofi Annan was a guiding pressure for good. I be a part of the world in mourning his loss. In these turbulent and making an attempt occasions, his legacy as a worldwide champion for peace will stay a real inspiration for us all.

— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) August 18, 2018

Even out of workplace, Annan by no means utterly left the U.N. orbit. He returned in particular roles, together with because the U.N.-Arab League’s particular envoy to Syria in 2012. He remained a strong advocate for international causes via his eponymous basis.

Annan took on the highest U.N. submit six years after the collapse of the Soviet Union and presided throughout a decade when the world united towards terrorism after the Sept. 11 assaults — then divided deeply over the U.S.-led conflict towards Iraq. The U.S. relationship examined him as a world diplomatic chief.

“I think that my darkest moment was the Iraq war, and the fact that we could not stop it,” Annan stated in a February 2013 interview with TIME journal to mark the publication of his memoir, “Interventions: A Life in War and Peace.”

“I worked very hard — I was working the phone, talking to leaders around the world. The U.S. did not have the support in the Security Council,” Annan recalled within the videotaped interview posted on The Kofi Annan Basis’s web site.

“So they decided to go without the council. But I think the council was right in not sanctioning the war,” he stated. “Could you imagine if the U.N. had endorsed the war in Iraq, what our reputation would be like? Although at that point, President (George W.) Bush said the U.N. was headed toward irrelevance, because we had not supported the war. But now we know better.”

Regardless of his well-honed diplomatic expertise, Annan was by no means afraid to talk candidly. That didn’t all the time win him followers, notably within the case of Bush’s administration, with whom Annan’s camp spent a lot time bickering. A lot of his second time period was spent at odds with the USA, the U.N.’s largest contributor, as he tried to lean on the nation to pay virtually $2 billion in arrears.

Kofi Atta Annan was born April eight, 1938, into an elite household in Kumasi, Ghana, the son of a provincial governor and grandson of two tribal chiefs.

He shared his center identify Atta — “twin” in Ghana’s Akan language — with a twin sister, Efua. He turned fluent in English, French and a number of other African languages, attending an elite boarding faculty and the College of Science and Know-how in Kumasi. He completed his undergraduate work in economics at Macalester School in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1961. From there he went to Geneva, the place he started his graduate research in worldwide affairs and launched his U.N. profession.

Annan married Titi Alakija, a Nigerian lady, in 1965, they usually had a daughter, Ama, and a son, Kojo. He returned to the U.S. in 1971 and earned a grasp’s diploma at the Massachusetts Institute of Know-how’s Sloan Faculty of Administration. The couple separated in the course of the 1970s and, whereas working in Geneva, Annan met his second spouse, Swedish lawyer Nane Lagergren. They married in 1984.

Annan labored for the U.N. Financial Fee for Africa in Ethiopia, its Emergency Drive in Egypt, and the workplace of the Excessive Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva, earlier than taking a collection of senior posts at U.N. headquarters in New York coping with human assets, price range, finance, and employees safety.

He additionally had particular assignments. After Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, he facilitated the repatriation from Iraq of greater than 900 worldwide employees and different non-Iraqi nationals, and the discharge of western hostages in Iraq. He led the preliminary negotiations with Iraq for the sale of oil in change for humanitarian aid.

Simply earlier than turning into secretary-general, Annan served as U.N. peacekeeping chief and as particular envoy to the former Yugoslavia, the place he oversaw a transition in Bosnia from U.N. protecting forces to NATO-led troops.

The U.N. peacekeeping operation confronted two of its biggest failures throughout his tenure: the Rwanda genocide in 1994, and the bloodbath within the Bosnian city of Srebrenica in July 1995.

In each instances, the U.N. had deployed troops underneath Annan’s command, however they failed to save lots of the lives of the civilians they have been mandated to guard. Annan provided apologies, however ignored calls to resign by U.S. Republican lawmakers. After turned secretary-general, he referred to as for U.N. stories on these two debacles — they usually have been extremely essential of his administration.

As secretary-general, Annan cast his experiences right into a doctrine referred to as the “Responsibility to Protect,” that nations accepted — at least in precept — to go off genocide, crimes towards humanity, ethnic cleaning and conflict crimes.
Annan sought to strengthen the U.N.’s administration, coherence and accountability, efforts that required big investments in coaching and know-how, a brand new whistleblower coverage and monetary disclosure necessities.

In 1998, he helped ease a transition to civilian rule in Nigeria and visited Iraq to attempt to resolve its deadlock with the Safety Council over compliance with weapons inspections and different issues. The trouble helped keep away from an outbreak of hostilities that appeared imminent at the time.

In 1999, he was deeply concerned within the course of by which East Timor gained independence from Indonesia, and began the “Global Compact” initiative that has grown into the world’s largest effort to advertise company social duty.

Annan was chief architect of what turned referred to as the Millennium Improvement Objectives, and performed a central position in creating the International Fund to Struggle AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the U.N.’s first counter-terrorism technique.

Annan’s uncontested election to a second time period was unprecedented, reflecting the overwhelming help he loved from each wealthy and poor nations. Timothy Wirth, president of the United Nations Basis, which disburses Ted Turner’s $1 billion pledge to U.N. causes, hailed “a saint-like sense about him.”

In 2005, Annan succeeded in establishing the Peacebuilding Fee and the Human Rights Council. However that yr, the U.N. was dealing with virtually every day assaults over allegations about corruption within the U.N. oil-for-food program in Iraq, bribery by U.N. buying officers and widespread intercourse abuse by U.N. peacekeepers — a problem that may solely balloon in significance after he left workplace.

It emerged that Annan’s son, Kojo, had not disclosed funds he acquired from his employer, which had a $10 million-a-year contract to watch humanitarian help underneath the oil-for-food program. The corporate paid at least $300,000 to Kojo so he wouldn’t work for rivals after he left.

An unbiased report criticized the secretary-general for being too complacent, saying he ought to have executed extra to research issues even when he was not concerned with the awarding of the contract.

World leaders agreed to create an inner U.N. ethics workplace, however a serious overhaul of the U.N.’s outdated administration practices and working procedures was left to Annan’s successor, Ban Ki-moon.

Earlier than leaving workplace, Annan helped safe a truce between Israel and Hezbollah in 2006, and mediated a settlement of a dispute between Cameroon and Nigeria over the Bakassi peninsula.

At a farewell information convention, Annan listed as prime achievements the promotion of human rights, the preventing to shut the hole between excessive poverty and immense wealth, and the U.N. marketing campaign to battle infectious illnesses like AIDS.

He by no means took disappointments and setbacks personally. And he stored his view that diplomacy ought to happen in personal and never within the public discussion board.

In his memoir, Annan acknowledged the prices of taking over the world’s prime diplomatic job, joking that “SG,” for secretary-general, additionally signified “scapegoat” round U.N. headquarters.

Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Richard Holbrooke referred to as Annan “an international rock star of diplomacy.”
After leaving his high-profile U.N. perch, Annan didn’t let up. In 2007, his Geneva-based basis was created. That yr he helped dealer peace in Kenya, the place election violence had killed over 1,000 individuals.

He additionally joined The Elders, an elite group of former leaders based by Nelson Mandela, ultimately succeeding Desmond Tutu as its chairman after a failed interlude making an attempt to resolve Syria’s rising civil struggle.

Annan “represented our continent and the world with enormous graciousness, integrity and distinction,” Tutu stated Saturday in a press release, including that “we give great thanks to god” for him.

As particular envoy to Syria in 2012, Annan gained worldwide backing for a six-point plan for peace. The U.N. deployed a 300-member observer drive to watch a cease-fire, however peace by no means took maintain and Annan was unable to surmount the bitter stalemate amongst Safety Council powers. He resigned in frustration seven months into the job, because the civil conflict raged on.

Annan continued to crisscross the globe. In 2017, his basis’s largest tasks included promotion of truthful, peaceable elections; work with Myanmar’s authorities to enhance life in troubled Rakhine state; and battling violent extremism by enlisting younger individuals to assist.

He additionally remained a vocal commentator on troubles just like the refugee disaster; promoted good governance, anti-corruption measures and sustainable agriculture in Africa; and pushed efforts within the struggle towards unlawful drug trafficking.

Annan retained connections to many worldwide organizations. He was chancellor of the College of Ghana, a fellow at New York’s Columbia College, and professor at the Lee Kuan Yew Faculty of Public Coverage in Singapore.

His homeland of Ghana was shaken by his demise. “One of our greatest compatriots,” President Nana Akufo-Addo stated, calling for every week with flags at half-mast. “Rest in perfect peace, Kofi. You have earned it.”

Annan is survived by his spouse and three youngsters. Funeral preparations weren’t instantly introduced.


Kokutse reported from Accra, Ghana. Related Press author Frank Jordans in Berlin contributed.

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