Kofi Annan (1938-2018) was a Ghanaian diplomat who served as the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations, from January 1997 to December 2006.
Annan was Born in Kumasi, Ghana, on 8 April 1938. After studying at the University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Annan completed his undergraduate work in economics at Macalester College in the United States in 1961. From 1961 to 1962, he undertook graduate studies in economics at the Institut universitaire des hautes études internationales in Geneva. As a 1971-1972 Sloan Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Annan received a Master of Science degree in management.
Joining the the UN in 1962, Annan worked first in Geneva, then in New York. He held senior positions in a diverse range of areas, most notably peacekeeping, where he was Under-Secretary-General at a time when nearly 70,000 military and civilian personnel were deployed in UN operations around the world.
Annan undertook wide-ranging diplomatic initiatives. For example, Annan led initial negotiations with Baghdad on the sale of oil to fund humanitarian relief. In 1999, now Secretary General of the United Nations, he helped to resolve the stalemate between Libya and the Security Council, and to forge an international response to violence in East Timor. In 2000, he certified Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon (nobelprize.org). Also in 2006, he mediated a settlement of the dispute between Cameroon and Nigeria over the Bakassi peninsula through implementation of the judgement of the International Court of Justice.
At 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. Annan also facilitated the establishment by member states in 2005 of two new intergovernmental bodies: the Peacebuilding Commission and the Human Rights Council. Annan likewise 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. Annan also strengthened the United Nation’s transparency through the introduction of a new whistleblower policy and financial disclosure requirements (un.org)
Annan has received honorary degrees from universities in Africa, Asia, Europe and North America, as well as a number of other prizes and awards for his contributions to the aims and purposes of the United Nations. In 2001, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with the United Nations, ‘for their work for a better organized and more peaceful world.’