World

Kofi Annan dies at 80: All you need to know about former UN chief

Annan was the first black African to take up the role of the world's top diplomat, serving two terms from 1997 to 2006. 

Geneva: Former UN Secretary-General and Nobel Peace Prize winner Kofi Annan passed away at age 80, a UN agency said on Saturday.

The UN Migration Agency tweeted: “Today we mourn the loss of a great man, a leader, and a visionary.”

Annan was the first black African to take up the role of the world’s top diplomat, serving two terms from 1997 to 2006.

On October 12, 2001, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded jointly to the United Nations and Kofi Annan, “for their work for a better organized and more peaceful world”. It was also stated that he had brought new life to the peacekeeping organisation, highlighted the United Nations’s fight for civil rights and ‘boldly taken on the new challenges of terrorism and AIDS’.

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

Here are the major highlights from his life:

  • Kofi Atta Annan ( 8 April 1938 – 18 August 2018) was a Ghanaian diplomat who served as the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations from January 1997 to December 2006.
  • In the year 2001, Annan became the won the Nobel Peace Prize as a co-recipient along with the United Nations. This felicitation was a result of Annan’s efforts to revitalise the UN and for prioritising human rights issues. The Nobel Committee also weighed in on his commitment to contain the spread of HIV in Africa and his declared opposition to international terrorism.
  • He was appointed as the Secretary-General on 13 December 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 by Ban Ki-moon on 1 January 2007. As the Secretary-General, Annan reformed the UN bureaucracy; worked to combat HIV, especially in Africa; and launched the UN Global Compact.
  • He has been criticized for not expanding the Security Council and faced calls for resignation after an investigation into the Oil-for-Food Programme (OIP). The OIP was established by the UN in 1995 to allow Iraq to sell oil on the world market in exchange for food, medicine, and other humanitarian needs for ordinary Iraqi citizens without allowing Iraq to boost its military.
  • After leaving the UN, he founded the Kofi Annan Foundation in 2007 to work on international development. In 2012, Annan was the UN–Arab League Joint Special Representative for Syria, to help find a resolution to the ongoing conflict there. In September 2016, he was appointed to lead a UN commission to investigate the Rohingya crisis.
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