International diplomat Kofi Annan of Ghana is the seventh secretary-general of the United Nations (UN), the multinational organization created to, among other things, maintain world peace. He is the first black African to head that organization and was awarded the Nobel Prize. He was also the founder and chairman of the Kofi Annan Foundation, as well as chairman of The Elders, an international organization founded by Nelson Mandela. Check below to see Kofi Annan Complete Biography You Need To Read.
Kofi Atta Annan
Do you know Kofi Annan? Who was He?
Kofi Atta Annan 8 April 1938 was a Ghanaian diplomat who served as the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations, from January 1997 to December 2006. Annan and the UN were the co-recipients of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize. He was the founder and chairman of the Kofi Annan Foundation, as well as chairman of The Elders, an international organization founded by Nelson Mandela.
Kofi Annan was born into an aristocratic family in Ghana, He attended a number of schools and colleges, studying international relations in the United States and Switzerland, and became an international civil servant.
Early Life of Kofi Annan
Kofi Annan was born in the Kofandros section of Kumasi in the Gold Coast. His twin sister Efua Atta, who died in 1991. Annan and his sister were born into one of the country’s Ashanti and Fante aristocratic families; both of their grandfathers and their uncle were tribal chiefs.
From 1954 to 1957, Annan attended the elite Mfantsipim school, a Methodist boarding school in Cape Coast founded in the 1870s. Upon Annan’s graduation from the school in 1957, Ghana gained independence from Britain and began using the name “Ghana”.
In 1958, Annan began studying economics at the Kumasi College of Science and Technology, now the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology of Ghana. He received a Ford Foundation grant, enabling him to complete his undergraduate studies in economics at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, United States, in 1961. Annan then completed a diplôme d’études approfondies DEA degree in International Relations at The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland, from 1961–62. After some years of work experience, he studied at the MIT Sloan School of Management 1971–72 in the Sloan Fellows program and earned a master’s degree in management.
Annan was fluent in English, French, Akan, and some Kru languages as well as other African languages.
Kofi Annan started working as a budget officer for the World Health Organization in 1962, an agency of the United Nations (UN).
Annan has been an international civil servant ever since, with the exception of a short break from 1974 to 1976, when he worked as the director of tourism in Ghana. he became the head of personnel for the office of the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Geneva in 1980.
He returned to the UN headquarters in New York City in 1983 as director of the budget in the financial services office. Later in the 1980s, he filled the post of assistant secretary-general in the Office of Human Resources Management and served as security coordinator for the United Nations. In 1990, he became assistant secretary-general for another department at the United Nations, the Office of Program Planning, Budget, and Finance. In fulfilling his duties to the United Nations, Annan has spent most of his adult life in the United States, specifically at the UN headquarters in New York City.
Kofi Annan had by this time filled a number of roles at the United Nations, ranging from peacekeeping to managerial, and the 1990s were no different. In 1990 he negotiated the release of hostages in Iraq following the invasion of Kuwait. Five years later, he oversaw the transition of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) to the multinational Implementation Force (IFOR), a UN peacekeeping organization. In this transfer of responsibility, operations in the former Yugoslavia were turned over to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
In recognition of his abilities, Kofi Annan was appointed secretary-general, the top post of the UN, by the UN General Assembly in December 1996. He began serving his four-year term of office on January 1, 1997.
Challenges Kofi faced
In 2003, retired Canadian General Roméo Dallaire, who was force commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda, claimed that Annan was overly passive in his response to the imminent genocide. Dallaire asserted that Annan held back UN troops from intervening to settle the conflict, and from providing more logistical and material support. Dallaire claimed that Annan failed to provide responses to his repeated faxes asking for access to a weapons depository; such weapons could have helped Dallaire defend the endangered Tutsis. In 2004, ten years after the genocide in which an estimated 800,000 people were killed, Annan said, “I could and should have done more to sound the alarm and rally support.
Appointment as United Nations secretary-general
The United Nations Security Council recommended Annan to replace the previous secretary-general, Dr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali of Egypt, in later 1996. The General Assembly voted in his favor, and he began his first term as secretary-general on January 1, 1997.
Among Annan’s most well-known accomplishments were his issuance of a five-point Call to Action in April 2001 to address the HIV/AIDS pandemic and his proposal to create a Global AIDS and Health Fund. He and the United Nations were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in December of 2001 “for their work for a better organized and more peaceful world.”
Kofi Annan is also known for his opposition to the 2003 invasion of Iraq and to Iran’s nuclear program. He told the BBC in September 2004 that the Iraq war did not conform to the U.N. charter and was illegal.
Kofi’s Retirement from United Nations
Annan retired on December 31, 2006. Several months prior, he gave a farewell speech to world leaders at U.N. headquarters in New York, outlining major problems with an unjust world economy world disorder, and widespread contempt for human rights and the rule of law”, which he believed “have not resolved, but sharpened” during his time as Secretary-General. He also pointed to violence in Africa, and the Arab–Israeli conflict as two major issues warranting attention.
Following his retirement, Annan returned to Ghana. He became involved with a number of organizations with a global focus. He was chosen to lead the formation of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, became a member of the Global Elders and was appointed president of the Global Humanitarian Forum in Geneva. In 2009, Annan joined a Columbia University program at the university’s School of International and Public Affairs.
In 2007, Kofi Annan established the Kofi Annan Foundation, an independent, not-for-profit organization that works to promote better global governance and strengthen the capacities of people and countries to achieve a fairer, more peaceful world. The organisation was founded on the principles that fair and peaceful societies rest on three pillars: Peace and Security, Sustainable Development, and Human Rights and the Rule of Law, and they have made it their mission to mobilise the leadership and the political resolve needed to tackle threats to these three pillars ranging from violent conflict to flawed elections and climate change, with the aim of achieving a fairer, more peaceful world.
In 1965, Kofi Annan married Titi Alakija, a Nigerian woman from an aristocratic family. Several years later they had a daughter, Ama, and later a son, Kojo. The couple separated in the late 1970s, and divorced in 1983. In 1984, Annan married Nane Annan, a Swedish lawyer at the UN and a maternal half-niece of diplomat Raoul Wallenberg. She has a daughter, Nina, from a previous marriage.
Death and Funeral of Kofi Annan
Kofi Annan died on the morning of 18 August 2018 in Bern, Switzerland, at the age of 80 after a short illness. The body of Kofi Annan was returned to his native Ghana from Geneva in a brief and solemn ceremony at the Kotoka International Airport in Accra, on 10 September 2018. His coffin, draped in the blue UN flag, was accompanied by his widow Nane Annan, his children Ama, Kojo, Nina and senior diplomats from the international organisation.
On 13 September 2018, a state funeral was held for Kofi Annan in Ghana at the Accra International Conference Centre. The ceremony was attended by several leaders from across Africa as well as Ghanaian traditional rulers and dignitaries from the international community, including the U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Kofi Annan was an ardent champion of peace.