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The world, especially Ghana, has been thrown into a state of mourning as tributes pour in for Ghana’s celebrated diplomat – former United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who died in the early hours of Saturday in the Swiss capital, Bern, at the age of 80.
In Geneva, the Kofi Annan Foundation announced with “immense sadness” his peaceful death in a hospital after a short undisclosed illness, saying he was surrounded in his last days by his wife Nane Marie Lagergren and children Ama, Kojo and Nina.
He is reported to have fallen ill on his way back from South Africa after attending the Mandela centenary celebrations.
He was hospitalised in Geneva and later airlifted to the capital, Bern, where he died last Saturday.
Kofi Atta Annan was born in Kumasi on April 8, 1938.
After receiving his early education at Ghana’s elite Mfantsipim School, Annan attended the College of Science and Technology in the capital of Kumasi in 1958.
At the age of 20, he won a Ford Foundation scholarship for undergraduate studies at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he studied economics.
Even then, he was showing signs of becoming a diplomat, or someone skilled in international relations. Annan received his bachelor’s degree in economics in 1961.
Shortly after completing his studies at Macalester College, Annan headed for Geneva, Switzerland, where he attended graduate classes in economics at the Institut Universitaire des Hautes Etudes Internationales in Geneva, Switzerland.
Following his graduate studies in Geneva, Annan joined the staff of the World Health Organisation (WHO), a branch of the United Nations.
He served as an administrative officer and as budget officer in Geneva. Later, UN posts took him to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and New York City, New York. Annan always assumed that he would return to his native land after college, although he was disturbed by the unrest and numerous changes of government that occurred during the 1970s.
Annan became the Alfred P. Sloan fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. At the end of his fellowship in 1972, he was awarded a master of science degree in management.
Rather than return to Ghana upon graduation, he accepted a position at the UN headquarters in New York City.
He then 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.
Annan was appointed as the Secretary-General on December 13, 1996 by the Security Council, and later confirmed by the General Assembly, making him the first officeholder to be elected from the UN staff itself.
He was re-elected for a second term in 2001, and was succeeded as Secretary-General by Ban Ki-moon on January 1, 2007.
Nobel Peace Prize
Annan and the UN were the co-recipients of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize.
Annan reformed the UN bureaucracy
As the Secretary-General, Annan reformed the UN bureaucracy.
Annan worked to combat HIV, especially in Africa
He worked to combat HIV, especially in Africa, and launched the UN Global Compact.
Annan criticised for not expanding UN Security Council
He has been criticised for not expanding the Security Council.
He faced calls to resign
He faced calls for resignation after an investigation into the Oil-for-Food Programme.
Annan criticised for not intervening in Rwanda genocide
As head of U.N. peacekeeping operations, Annan was criticised for the world body’s failure to halt the genocide in Rwanda in the 1990s.
His efforts to reunite the divided island of Cyprus
As U.N. boss, he was linked to peace efforts to reunite the divided island of Cyprus, submitting a reunification blueprint which was rejected in a referendum by Greek Cypriots in 2004.
Annan opposed U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003
He staunchly opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and later served as the first U.N. envoy at the start of Syria’s war, but quit after world powers failed to fulfil their commitments, saying: “I lost my troops on the way to Damascus.”
TRIBUTES FROM WORLD LEADERS POUR IN FOR ANNAN
British Prime Minister, Theresa May tweeted, “Sad to hear of the death of Kofi Annan.
“A great leader and reformer of the UN, he made a huge contribution to making the world he has left, a better place that the one he was born into. My thoughts and condolences are with his family.”
Kofi Annan is a man of integrity – Raila Odinga
Raila Odinga, Kenyan opposition leader and former prime minister, said on Citizen TV: “We didn’t expect Kofi to pass that abruptly. Kofi Annan is a man of integrity, a great African, a great leader of the world.”
Former U.S. president George W. Bush praise Annan
Former U.S. president George W. Bush called him “a gentle man and a tireless leader of the United Nations”.
Annan is diplomat and humanitarian – Barack Obama
Another former U.S. president Barack Obama described him as “a diplomat and humanitarian who embodied the mission of the United Nations like few others”.
U.S. envoy to the U.N. Nikki Haley hails him
“Kofi Annan devoted his life to making the world a more peaceful place through his compassion and dedication to service.
“He worked tirelessly to unite us and never stopped fighting for the dignity of every person,” U.S. envoy to the U.N. Nikki Haley said.
The Elders pay tribute
The Elders, a group of former leaders, including Gro Harlem Brundtland and Mary Robinson, paid tribute to their inspiring chairman, noting his visits to South Africa and Zimbabwe in July.
Annan is humanity’s best example – UNHCR boss
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein paid tribute to Annan as “humanity’s best example, the epitome, of human decency and grace”.
Zeid, who has criticised major powers and other countries during his four-year term that ends later this month, said that whenever he felt “isolated and alone politically”, he would go for long walks with Annan in Geneva.
“When I told him once how everyone was grumbling about me, he looked at me — like a father would look at a son — and said sternly: ‘You’re doing the right thing, let them grumble.’ Then he grinned!”
Kofi Annan was the United Nations – Guterres
Mr Antonio Guterres, United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, says the late Kofi Annan was an embodiment of the UN, and has expressed profound sadness at the news of his passing.
“In many ways, Kofi Annan was the United Nations. He rose through the ranks to lead the organisation into the new millennium with matchless dignity and determination,” he said.
The UN Secretary-General, in a statement, said the celebrated diplomat was “a guiding force for good and a person he was proud to call a good friend and mentor”, someone he could always turn to “for counsel and wisdom”.
He had been honoured by the late Kofi Annan’s trust in selecting him to serve as UN High Commissioner for Refugees under his leadership.
“He remained someone I could always turn to for counsel and wisdom — and I know I was not alone.
“He provided people everywhere with a space for dialogue, a place for problem-solving and a path to a better world,” he added.
“Mr Annan never stopped working to give life to the values of the United Nations Charter, and his legacy will remain an inspiration for all.
“My heartfelt condolences to Nane Annan, their beloved family, and all who mourn the loss of this proud son of Africa, who became a global champion for peace and all humanity,” Mr Guterres said.
Annan forged ties with civil society, private sector and other partners
He was an unrelenting advocate for human rights, the rule of law, the Millennium Development Goals, and Africa, and sought to bring the organisation closer to the global public by forging ties with civil society, the private sector, and other partners.
Annan strengthened UN peacekeeping
Through Mr Annan’s initiative, UN peacekeeping was strengthened in ways that enabled the United Nations to cope with a rapid rise in the number of operations and personnel.
It was also at his urging that, in 2005, member states established two new intergovernmental bodies: the Peace-building Commission and the Human Rights Council.
He also played a central role in the creation of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, the adoption of the UN’s first-ever counter-terrorism strategy, and the acceptance by Member States of the “responsibility to protect” people from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. His ‘Global Compact’ initiative, launched in 1999, has become the world’s largest effort to promote corporate social responsibility.
He is the founder and chairman of the Kofi Annan Foundation, as well as chairman of The Elders, an international organisation founded by Nelson Mandela.
His 10-year-old foundation promotes good governance and the transformation of African agriculture.
The Kofi Annan Foundation, which he was the Chairman of, paid tribute to his extraordinary commitment to touching the lives of others.
The foundation, an organisation he established in 2007 after serving out his term as UN Chief, described him as a global statesman, a deeply committed internationalist who fought throughout his life for a fairer and more peaceful world.
In a statement, it said, during his distinguished career and leadership of the UN, he was an ardent champion of peace, sustainable development, human rights and the rule of law, and continued his work for peace after retiring from the world body, 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,” the statement added.
The late Annan was a son of Ghana who felt a special responsibility towards Africa and its development and was 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,” the statement said.
Source: Elvis Darko || The Finder