Kofi Atta Annan (; born 8 April 1938) is 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 is the founder and chairman of the Kofi Annan Foundation, as well as chairman of The Elders, an international organization founded by Nelson Mandela.
Born in Kumasi, Annan went on to study economics at Macalester College, international relations from the Graduate Institute Geneva and management at MIT. Annan joined the UN in 1962, working for the World Health Organization‘s Geneva office. He 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. 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 office holder 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 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. 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 ongoing conflict there. Annan quit after becoming frustrated with the UN’s lack of progress with regard to conflict resolution. In September 2016, Annan was appointed to lead a UN commission to investigate the Rohingya crisis.
Early years and education
Kofi Annan was born in the Kofandros section of Kumasi in the Gold Coast (now Ghana) on 8 April 1938. His twin sister Efua Atta, who died in 1991, shared the middle name Atta, which in the Akan means ‘twin’. 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.
In the Akan names tradition, some children are named according to the day of the week on which they were born, and/or in relation to how many children precede them. Kofi in Akan is the name that corresponds with Friday. Annan has said his surname rhymes with “cannon” in English.
From 1954 to 1957, Annan attended the elite Mfantsipim school, a Methodist boarding school in Cape Coast founded in the 1870s. Annan has said that the school taught him “that suffering anywhere concerns people everywhere”. In 1957, the year Annan graduated from Mfantsipim, the Gold Coast gained independence from the UK 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 diplme d’tudes 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.
In 1962, Kofi Annan started working as a Budget Officer for the World Health Organization, an agency of the United Nations (UN). From 1974 to 1976, he worked as the Director of Tourism in Ghana. In 1980 he became the head of personnel for the office of the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Geneva. In 1983 he became the director of administrative management services of the UN Secretariat in New York. In the late 1980s, Annan was appointed as an Assistant Secretary-General of the UN in three consecutive positions: Human Resources, Management and Security Coordinator (1987-1990); Program Planning, Budget and Finance, and Controller (1990-1992); and Peacekeeping Operations (March 1993 – December 1996).
When Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali established the Department of Peacekeeping Operations in 1992, Annan was appointed to the new department as Deputy to then Under Secretary-General Marrick Goulding. Annan was subsequently appointed to succeed Goulding and assumed the office of USG DPKO in March 1993. He was therefore Head of peacekeeping during the battle of Somalia and the resulting collapse of the UNOSOM II peacekeeping mission, and during the Rwandan Genocide of 1994. On 29 August 1995, while Boutros-Ghali was unreachable on an airplane, Annan instructed United Nations officials to “relinquish for a limited period of time their authority to veto air strikes in Bosnia.” This move allowed NATO forces to conduct Operation Deliberate Force and made him a favorite of the United States. According to Richard Holbrooke, Annan’s “gutsy performance” convinced the United States that he would be a good replacement for Boutros-Ghali.
In 2003 Canadian ex-General Romo 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. In his book Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda (2003), General 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.”
In his book Interventions: A Life in War and Peace, Annan again argued that DPKO could have made better use of the media to raise awareness of the violence in Rwanda and put pressure on governments to provide the troops necessary for an intervention. Annan explained that the events in Somalia and the collapse of the UNOSOM II mission fostered a hesitation amongst UN Member states to approve robust peacekeeping operations. As a result, when the UNAMIR mission was approved just days after the battle, the resulting force lacked the troop levels, resources and mandate to operate effectively.
Annan served as Under-Secretary-General from March 1994 to October 1995. He was appointed a Special Representative of the Secretary-General to the former Yugoslavia, serving for five months before returning to his duties as Under-Secretary-General in April 1996.
Secretary-General of the United Nations
In 1996, Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali ran unopposed for a second term. Although he won 14 of the 15 votes on the Security Council, he was vetoed by the United States. After four deadlocked meetings of the Security Council, Boutros-Ghali suspended his candidacy, becoming the only Secretary-General ever to be denied a second term. Annan was the leading candidate to replace him, beating Amara Essy by one vote in the first round. However, France vetoed Annan four times before finally abstaining. The UN Security Council recommended Annan on 13 December 1996. Confirmed four days later by the vote of the General Assembly, he started his first term as Secretary-General on 1 January 1997.
Due to Boutros-Ghali’s overthrow, a second Annan term would give Africa the office of Secretary-General for three consecutive terms. In 2001, the Asia-Pacific Group agreed to support Annan for a second term in return for the African Group‘s support for an Asian Secretary-General in the 2006 selection. The Security Council recommended Annan for a second term on 27 June 2001, and the General Assembly approved his reappointment on 29 June 2001.
Recommendations for UN reform
Soon after taking office in 1997, Annan released two reports on management reform. On 17 March 1997, the report Management and Organisational Measures (A/51/829) introduced new management mechanisms through the establishment of a cabinet-style body to assist him and be grouping the UN’s activities in accordance with four core missions. A comprehensive reform agenda was issued on 14 July 1997 entitled Renewing the United Nations: A Programme for Reform (A/51/950). Key proposals included the introduction of strategic management to strengthen unity of purpose, the establishment of the position of Deputy Secretary-General, a 10-percent reduction in posts, a reduction in administrative costs, the consolidation of the UN at the country level, and reaching out to civil society and the private sector as partners. Annan also proposed to hold a Millennium Summit in 2000. After years of research, Annan presented a progress report, In Larger Freedom, to the UN General Assembly, on 21 March 2005. Annan recommended Security Council expansion and a host of other UN reforms.
On 31 January 2006, Kofi Annan outlined his vision for a comprehensive and extensive reform of the UN in a policy speech to the United Nations Association UK. The speech, delivered at Central Hall, Westminster, also marked the 60th Anniversary of the first meetings of the General Assembly and Security Council.
On 7 March 2006, he presented to the General Assembly his proposals for a fundamental overhaul of the United Nations Secretariat. The reform report is entitled Investing in the United Nations, For a Stronger Organization Worldwide.
On 30 March 2006, he presented to the General Assembly his analysis and recommendations for updating the entire work programme of the United Nations Secretariat. The reform report is entitled: Mandating and Delivering: Analysis and Recommendations to Facilitate the Review of Mandates.
Regarding the UN Human Rights Council, Annan has said “declining credibility” had “cast a shadow on the reputation of the United Nations system. Unless we re-make our human rights machinery, we may be unable to renew public confidence in the United Nations itself.” However, he does believe that, despite its flaws, the council can do good.
In March 2000, Annan appointed the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations to assess the shortcomings of the then existing system and to make specific and realistic recommendations for change. The panel was composed of individuals experienced in conflict prevention, peacekeeping and peacebuilding. The report it produced, which became known as the Brahimi Report, after Chair of the Panel Lakhdar Brahimi, called for:
- renewed political commitment on the part of Member States;
- significant institutional change;
- increased financial support.
The Panel further noted that in order to be effective, UN peacekeeping operations must be properly resourced and equipped, and operate under clear, credible and achievable mandates. In a letter transmitting the report to the General Assembly and Security Council, Annan stated that the Panel’s recommendations were “essential to make the United Nations truly credible as a force for peace.” Later that same year, the Security Council adopted several provisions relating to peacekeeping following the report, in Resolution 1327.
Millennium Development Goals
In 2000, ahead of the Millennium Summit, Annan issued a report entitled “We the peoples: the role of the United Nations in the 21st century“. The report argued that the significant geopolitical evolutions and increased globalization experienced over the previous 50 years required the United Nations to reassess and transform the way it operates. The report called for member states to “put people at the centre of everything we do. No calling is more noble, and no responsibility greater, than that of enabling men, women and children, in cities and villages around the world, to make their lives better.”
In the final chapter of the report, Annan drew on the findings of earlier work by the UN, The World Bank, the IMF and OECD, and identified priority areas on which the UN should focus in order to “free our fellow men and women from the abject and dehumanizing poverty in which more than 1 billion of them are currently confined” These served as the basis for the subsequent Millennium Development Goals, which were developed with additional input from the Millennium Forum, a group comprised 1,000 non-governmental and civil society organizations from more than 100 countries .
At the end of the Millennium Summit, delegates adopted the Millennium Declaration, in which they committed to a new global partnership to reduce extreme poverty and set out a series of time-bound targets which subsequently become known as the Millennium Development Goals.
United Nations Information Technology Service (UNITeS)
Within the “We the Peoples” document, Annan suggested the establishment of a United Nations Information Technology Service (UNITeS), a consortium of high-tech volunteer corps, including NetCorps Canada and Net Corps America, which United Nations Volunteers would coordinate. In the Report of the high-level panel of experts on information and communication technology (22 May 2000) suggesting a UN ICT Task Force, the panel welcomed the establishment of UNITeS, and made suggestions on its configuration and implementation strategy, including that ICT4D volunteering opportunities make mobilizing “national human resources” (local ICT experts) within developing countries a priority, for both men and women. The initiative was launched at the United Nations Volunteers and was active from February 2001 to February 2005. Initiative staff and volunteers participated in the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Geneva in December 2003.
The United Nations Global Compact
In an address to The World Economic Forum on 31 January 1999, Secretary-General Annan argued that the “goals of the United Nations and those of business can, indeed, be mutually supportive” and proposed that the private sector and the United Nations initiate “a global compact of shared values and principles, which will give a human face to the global market”.
On 26 July 2000, the United Nations Global Compact was officially launched at UN headquarters in New York. It is a principle-based framework for businesses which aims to “Catalyse actions in support of broader UN goals, such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)”. The Compact established ten core principles in the areas of human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption, and under the Compact, companies commit to the ten principles and are brought together with UN agencies, labour groups and civil society to effectively implement them.
Establishment of The Global Fund
Towards the end of the 1990s, increased awareness of the destructive potential of epidemics such as HIV/AIDS pushed public health issues to the top of the global development agenda. In April 2001, Annan issued a five-point “Call to Action” to address the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Stating it was a “personal priority”, Annan proposed the establishment of a Global AIDS and Health Fund, “dedicated to the battle against HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases” to stimulate the increased international spending needed to help developing countries confront the HIV/AIDS crisis. In June of that year, the General Assembly of the United Nations committed to the creation of such a fund during a special session on AIDS, and the permanent secretariat of the Global Fund was subsequently established in June 2002.
Responsibility to Protect
Following the failure of Annan and the International Community to intervene in the genocide in Rwanda and in Srebrenica, Annan asked whether the international community had an obligation in such situations to intervene to protect civilian populations. In a speech to the General Assembly in September 1999 “to address the prospects for human security and intervention in the next century,” Annan argued that individual sovereignty- the protections afforded by the Declaration of Human Rights and the Charter of the UN, were being strengthened, while the notion of state sovereignty was being redefined by globalization and international cooperation. As a result, the UN and its Member States had to re-consider their willingness to act to prevent conflict and civilian suffering.
In September 2001 the Canadian government established an ad-hoc committee to address this balance between State sovereignty and humanitarian intervention. The International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty published its final report in 2001, which focused not on the right of states to intervene but on a responsibility to protect populations at risk. The report moved beyond the question of military intervention, arguing that a range of diplomatic and humanitarian actions could also be utilized to protect civilian populations.
In 2005, Annan included the doctrine of “Responsibility to Protect” in his report Larger Freedom. when that report was endorsed by the UN General Assembly, it amounted to the first formal endorsement by UN Member States of the doctrine of Responsibility to Protect.
In the years after 1998 when UNSCOM was kicked out by the government of Saddam Hussein and during the Iraq disarmament crisis, in which the United States blamed UNSCOM and former IAEA director Hans Blix for failing to properly disarm Iraq, Scott Ritter the former UNSCOM chief weapons inspector, blamed Annan for being slow and ineffective in enforcing Security Council resolutions on Iraq and was overtly submissive to the demands of the Clinton administration for regime removal and inspection of sites, often Presidential palaces, that were not mandated in any resolution and were of questionable intelligence value, which severely hampered UNSCOM’s ability to cooperate with the Iraqi government and contributed to their expulsion from the country. Ritter also claimed that Annan regularly interfered with the work of the inspectors and diluted the chain of command by trying to micromanage all of the activities of UNSCOM, which caused intelligence processing (and the resulting inspections) to be backed up and caused confusion with the Iraqis as to who was in charge and as a result, they generally refused to take orders from Ritter or Rolf Ekus without explicit approval from Annan, which could have taken days, if not weeks. He later believed that Annan was oblivious to the fact the Iraqis took advantage of this in order to delay inspections. He claimed that on one occasion, Annan refused to implement a no-notice inspection of the SSO headquarters and instead tried to negotiate access, but the negotiation ended up taking nearly six weeks, giving the Iraqis more than enough time to clean out the site.
During the build-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Annan called on the United States and the United Kingdom not to invade without the support of the United Nations. In a September 2004 interview on the BBC, when questioned about the legal authority for the invasion, Annan said he believed it was not in conformity with the UN charter and was illegal.
Other diplomatic activities
In 1998, Annan was deeply involved in supporting the transition from military to civilian rule in Nigeria. The following year, he supported the efforts of East Timor to secure independence from Indonesia. In 2000, he was responsible for certifying Israel ‘s withdrawal from Lebanon, and in 2006, he led talks in New York between the presidents of Cameroon and Nigeria which led to a settlement of the dispute between the two countries over the Bakassi peninsula.
Annan and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad disagreed sharply on Iran’s nuclear program, on an Iranian exhibition of cartoons mocking the Holocaust, and on the then upcoming International Conference to Review the Global Vision of the Holocaust, an Iranian Holocaust denial conference in 2006. During a visit to Iran instigated by continued Iranian uranium enrichment, Annan said “I think the tragedy of the Holocaust is an undeniable historical fact and we should really accept that fact and teach people what happened in World War II and ensure it is never repeated.”
Annan supported sending a UN peacekeeping mission to Darfur, Sudan. He worked with the government of Sudan to accept a transfer of power from the African Union peacekeeping mission to a UN one. Annan also worked with several Arab and Muslim countries on women’s rights and other topics.
Beginning in 1998, Annan convened an annual UN “Security Council Retreat” with the 15 States’ representatives of the Council. It was held at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF) Conference Center at the Rockefeller family estate at Pocantico, and was sponsored by both the RBF and the UN.
Lubbers sexual-harassment investigation
In June 2004, Annan was given a copy of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) report on the complaint brought by four female workers against Ruud Lubbers, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, for sexual harassment, abuse of authority, and retaliation. The report also reviewed a long-serving staff member’s allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct against Werner Blatter, Director of UNHCR Personnel. The investigation found Lubbers guilty of sexual harassment; no mention was made publicly of the other charge against a senior official, or two subsequent complaints filed later that year. In the course of the official investigation, Lubbers wrote a letter which some considered was a threat to the female worker who had brought the charges. On 15 July 2004, Annan cleared Lubbers of the accusations, saying they were not substantial enough legally. His decision held until November 2004. When the OIOS issued its annual report to the UN General Assembly, it stated that it had found Lubbers guilty of sexual harassment. These events were widely reported and weakened Annan’s influence.
On 17 November 2004, Annan accepted an OIOS report clearing Dileep Nair, UN Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services, of political corruption and sexual harassment charges. Some UN staff in New York disagreed with this conclusion, leading to extended debate on 19 November.
The internal UN-OIOS report on Lubbers was leaked, and sections accompanied by an article by Kate Holt were published in a British newspaper. In February 2005, he resigned as head of the UN refugee agency. Lubbers said he wanted to relieve political pressure on Annan.
In December 2004, reports surfaced that the Secretary-General’s son Kojo Annan received payments from the Swiss company Cotecna Inspection SA, which had won a lucrative contract under the UN Oil-for-Food Programme. Kofi Annan called for an investigation to look into the allegations.
Annan appointed the Independent Inquiry Committee, which was led by former US Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, then the director of the United Nations Association of the US. In his first interview with the Inquiry Committee, Annan denied having had a meeting with Cotecna. Later in the inquiry, he recalled that he had met with Cotecna’s chief executive Elie-Georges Massey twice. In a final report issued on 27 October, the committee found insufficient evidence to indict Kofi Annan on any illegal actions, but did find fault with Benon Sevan, a Turkish-Cypriot national who had worked for the UN for about 40 years. Appointed by Annan to the Oil-For-Food role, Sevan repeatedly asked Iraqis for allocations of oil to the African Middle East Petroleum Company. Sevan’s behavior was “ethically improper”, Volcker said to reporters. Sevan repeatedly denied the charges and argued that he was being made a “scapegoat”. The Volcker report was highly critical of the UN management structure and the Security Council oversight. It strongly recommended a new position be established of Chief Operating Officer (COO), to handle the fiscal and administrative responsibilities than under the Secretary-General’s office. The report listed the companies, both Western and Middle Eastern, that benefited illegally from the program.
Nobel Peace Prize
In 2001, its centennial year, the Nobel Committee decided that the Peace Prize was to be divided between the UN and Annan. He was awarded the Peace Prize for having revitalized the UN and for having given priority to human rights. The Nobel Committee also recognized his commitment to the struggle to containing the spread of HIV in Africa and his declared opposition to international terrorism.
Relations between the United States and the United Nations
Kofi Annan supported his deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown, who openly criticized the United States in a speech on 6 June 2006: “he prevailing practice of seeking to use the UN almost by stealth as a diplomatic tool while failing to stand up for it against its domestic critics is simply not sustainable. You will lose the UN one way or another. the US is constructively engaged with the UN is not well known or understood, in part because much of the public discourse that reaches the US heartland has been largely abandoned to its loudest detractors such as Rush Limbaugh and Fox News.” Malloch later said his talk was a “sincere and constructive critique of U.S. policy toward the U.N. by a friend and admirer.”
The talk was unusual because it violated unofficial policy of not having top officials publicly criticize member nations. The interim US ambassador John R. Bolton, appointed by President George W. Bush, was reported to have told Annan on the phone: “I’ve known you since 1989 and I’m telling you this is the worst mistake by a senior UN official that I have seen in that entire time.” Observers from other nations supported Malloch’s view that conservative politicians in the US prevented many citizens from understanding the benefits of US involvement in the UN.
UN Resolution 61/225: World Diabetes Day
Kofi Annan witnessed the United Nations General Assembly’s passage of UN Resolution 61/225, to establish World Diabetes Day. The Resolution was the second UN General Assembly Resolution on a health-related issue (the other being HIV/AIDS). Resolution 61/225 is the only Health-related UN Resolution to pass by consensus. Sponsored by the Republic of South Africa and Bangladesh, the Resolution was passed on 20 December 2006.
UN Resolution 60/7: International Holocaust Remembrance day
Annan also witnessed the establishment of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, designated by the UN General Assembly on 1 November 2005 during the 42nd plenary session. The Resolution urges every member nation of the UN to honor the memory of Holocaust victims, and encourages the development of educational programs about Holocaust history to help prevent future acts of genocide. It rejects any denial of the Holocaust as an event and condemns all manifestations of religious intolerance, incitement, harassment or violence against persons or communities based on ethnic origin or religious belief. International Holocaust Remembrance day is celebrated on 27 January, the day Soviet troops liberated Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi camp.
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On 19 September 2006, Annan gave a farewell address to world leaders gathered at the UN headquarters in New York, in anticipation of his retirement on 31 December. In the speech he outlined three major problems of “an unjust world economy, world disorder, and widespread contempt for human rights and the rule of law”, which he believes “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.
On 11 December 2006, in his final speech as Secretary-General, delivered at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library in Independence, Missouri, Annan recalled Truman’s leadership in the founding of the United Nations. He called for the United States to return to President Truman’s multilateralist foreign policies, and to follow Truman’s credo that “the responsibility of the great states is to serve and not dominate the peoples of the world”. He also said that the United States must maintain its commitment to human rights, “including in the struggle against terrorism.”
Following his two terms as Secretary-General, Annan was immediately suggested as a candidate to become Ghana’s next President.
Kofi Annan Foundation
In 2007, 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 Foundation believes 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.
The Foundation provides the analytical, communication and co-ordination capacities needed to ensure that these objectives are achieved. Kofi Annan’s contribution to peace worldwide is delivered through mediation, political mentoring, advocacy and advice. Through his engagement, Kofi Annan aims to strengthen local and international conflict resolution capabilities. The Foundation provides the analytical and logistical support to facilitate this in co-operation with relevant local, regional and international actors. The Foundation is guided by the following values and principles:
- “The primacy of dialogue, tolerance and reconciliation as instruments for building and preserving peace within communities and between countries.
- Respect for the rule of law and human rights as the foundations of good governance and democratic accountability.
- The need to reduce hunger and poverty, and promote equality of opportunity to alleviate human suffering.
- The Foundation is prepared to take timely action on important and pressing issues based on careful research and analysis.
- The Foundation is non-partisan and serves as a neutral actor in conflict resolution activities.
- The Foundation works in close cooperation with other organizations, public or private, with proven competencies in order to advance its mission.
- The Foundation does not duplicate the effective efforts of others and only acts when there is a clear added value.
- The Foundation is an independent, not-for-profit organization under Swiss law.
- The Foundation is funded by a mix of public and private donors. Particular care is given to ensure that funding sources are beyond reproach and that contributions are politically untied.”
The Foundation works mainly through private diplomacy, where Kofi Annan provides informal counsel and participates in discreet diplomatic initiatives to avert or resolve crises by applying his unique experience and inspirational leadership. He is often asked to intercede in crises, sometimes as an impartial independent mediator, sometimes as a special envoy of the international community. In recent years he has provided such counsel to Burkina Faso, Kenya, Myanmar, Senegal, Syria/Iraq and Colombia.
Following the outbreak of violence during the 2007 Presidential elections in Kenya, the African Union established a Panel of Eminent African Personalities to assist in finding a peaceful solution to the crisis.
The panel, headed by Annan, managed to convince the two principal parties to the conflict, President Mwai Kibaki‘s Party of National Unity (PNU) and Raila Odinga‘s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), to participate in the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation Process (KNDR). Over the course of 41 days of negotiations, several agreements regarding taking actions to stop the violence and remedying its consequences were signed. On 28 February President Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga signed a coalition government agreement. Kofi Annan and was widely lauded by many Kenyans for this landmark achievement.
Joint Special Envoy for Syria
- commit to work with the Envoy in an inclusive Syrian-led political process to address the legitimate aspirations and concerns of the Syrian people, and, to this end, commit to appoint an empowered interlocutor when invited to do so by the Envoy;
- commit to stop the fighting and achieve urgently an effective United Nations supervised cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties to protect civilians and stabilise the country.
- To this end, the Syrian government should immediately cease troop movements towards, and end the use of heavy weapons in, population centres, and begin pullback of military concentrations in and around population centres.
- As these actions are being taken on the ground, the Syrian government should work with the Envoy to bring about a sustained cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties with an effective United Nations supervision mechanism.
- Similar commitments would be sought by the Envoy from the opposition and all relevant elements to stop the fighting and work with him to bring about a sustained cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties with an effective United Nations supervision mechanism;
- ensure timely provision of humanitarian assistance to all areas affected by the fighting, and to this end, as immediate steps, to accept and implement a daily two-hour humanitarian pause and to coordinate exact time and modalities of the daily pause through an efficient mechanism, including at local level;
- intensify the pace and scale of release of arbitrarily detained persons, including especially vulnerable categories of persons, and persons involved in peaceful political activities, provide without delay through appropriate channels a list of all places in which such persons are being detained, immediately begin organizing access to such locations and through appropriate channels respond promptly to all written requests for information, access or release regarding such persons;
- ensure freedom of movement throughout the country for journalists and a non-discriminatory visa policy for them;
- respect freedom of association and the right to demonstrate peacefully as legally guaranteed.
On 2 August, he resigned as UN and Arab League joint special envoy to Syria, citing the intransigence of both the Assad government and the rebels, as well as the stalemate on the Security Council as preventing any peaceful resolution of the situation. He also stated that the lack of international unity and ineffective diplomacy among the world leaders has made the peaceful resolution in Syria an impossible task.
Global Commission on Elections, Democracy and Security
Annan served as the Chair of the Global Commission on Elections, Democracy and Security. The Commission was launched in May 2011 as a joint initiative of the Kofi Annan Foundation and the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. It comprised 12 eminent individuals from around the world, including Ernesto Zedillo, Martti Ahtisaari, Madeleine Albright and Amartya Sen, and aimed to highlight the importance of the integrity of elections to achieving a more secure, prosperous and stable world. The Commission released its final report: Democracy, a Strategy to Improve the Integrity of Elections Worldwide, in September 2012.
In March 2011, Annan became a member of the Advisory Board for Investcorp Bank B. S. C.Europe, leading international private equity firm and sovereign wealth fund, until 2018 owned by the United Arab Emirates.
Annan become member of the Global Advisory Board of Macro Advisory Partners LLP, Risk and strategic consulting firm based in London and New York, for business, finance and government decision-makers, whith some operations related to Investcorp.
In addition to the above, Annan has also become involved with several organizations with both global and African focuses. In 2007, Annan was named chairman of the prize committee for the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership, was chosen to lead the new formation of Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), was appointed president of the Global Humanitarian Forum in Geneva, and was selected for the MacArthur Foundation Award for International Justice.
Annan serves as Chair of The Elders, a group of independent global leaders who work together on peace and human rights issues. In November 2008, Annan and fellow Elders Jimmy Carter and Graa Machel attempted to travel to Zimbabwe to make a first-hand assessment of the humanitarian situation in the country. Refused entry, the Elders instead carried out their assessment from Johannesburg, where they met Zimbabwe- and South Africa-based leaders from politics, business, international organisations and civil society. In May 2011, following months of political violence in Cte d’Ivoire, Annan travelled to the country with Elders Desmond Tutu and Mary Robinson to encourage national reconciliation. On 16 October 2014, Kofi Annan attended the One Young World Summit in Dublin. During a session with fellow Elder Mary Robinson, Kofi Annan encouraged 1,300 young leaders from 191 countries to lead on intergenerational issues such as climate change and the need for action to take place now, not tomorrow. During the Summit he told leaders from 191 countries that addressing the effects of climate change was a general issue, for both the young and old.
“We don’t have to wait to act. The action must be now. You will come across people who think we should start tomorrow. Even for those who believe action should begin tomorrow, remind them tomorrow begins now, tomorrow begins today, so lets all move forward.”
Annan currently serves on the board of directors of the United Nations Foundation, a public charity created in 1998 with entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner‘s historic $1 billion USD gift to support UN causes. The UN Foundation builds and implements public-private partnerships to address the world’s most pressing problems, and broadens support for the UN.
Annan chairs the Africa Progress Panel (APP), a group of ten distinguished individuals who advocate at the highest levels for equitable and sustainable development in Africa. As Chair, he facilitates coalition building to leverage and broker knowledge, in addition to convening decision-makers to influence policy and create lasting change in Africa. Every year, the Panel releases a report, the Africa Progress Report, that outlines an issue of immediate importance to the continent and suggests a set of associated policies. In 2014, the Africa Progress Report highlighted the potential of African fisheries, agriculture and forests to drive economic development. The 2015 report explores the role of climate change and the potential of renewable energy investments in determining Africa’s economic future.
Kofi Annan was appointed the Chancellor of the University of Ghana in 2008.
In May 2009, Annan became a global fellow of the School of International and Public Affairs of Columbia University. The Global Fellows program brings students together with global practitioners to share firsthand knowledge of experiences in the life of an international or public figure. He is also a fellow of The Committee on Global Thought appointed by the University.
On 2 September 2009, Annan was unveiled as the first Li Ka Shing Professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy of the National University of Singapore (NUS). The announcement was made during the school’s 5th anniversary celebrations.
On 7 October 2010, Annan was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Global Centre for Pluralism, Canada’s new international research and education centre dedicated to the study and practice of pluralism worldwide. The Global Centre for Pluralism is an initiative of His Highness the Aga Khan in partnership with the Government of Canada. The Centre is located in Ottawa. Dedicated to the creation of successful societies, the Centre is founded on the premise that tolerance, openness and understanding towards the cultures, social structures, values and faiths of other peoples are essential to the very survival of an interdependent world. Pluralism is no longer simply an asset or a prerequisite for progress and development.
On 4 September 2012, Annan published his memoir, Interventions: A Life in War and Peace, written with Nader Mousavizadeh, ISBN 978-159420420-3. The book is described as a personal biography of global statecraft.
In 1965, Kofi Annan married Titi Alakija, a Nigerian woman from a well-to-do 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 Maria Lagergren, a Swedish lawyer at the U.N and a maternal half-niece of Raoul Wallenberg. Mr. Annan also had a loyal and long-serving chauffeur John Miller (Mr. Miller) who still is a close friend and confidant to Kofi and his son Kojo.
Honours and awards
- 2000: Companion of the Order of the Star of Ghana
- 2000: Grand Cross Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland
- 2001: Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of the Star of Romania
- 2002: Knight Commander of the Most Courteous Order of Lesotho
- 2005: Grand Collar of the Order of Liberty (Portugal)
- 2006: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Netherlands Lion
- 2007: Grand Decoration of Honour in Gold with Sash for Services to the Republic of Austria
- 2007: Honorary Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George (GCMG) from Queen Elizabeth II (UK)
- 2008: Grand Cross 1st class of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany
- 2001: Nobel Foundation, The Nobel Peace Prize, jointly presented to Kofi Annan and the United Nations
- 2002: winner of the “Profiles in Courage Award“, given by the JFK Memorial Museum
- 2002: The American Whig-Cliosophic Society James Madison Award for Distinguished Public Service.
- 2003: Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
- 2003: Freedom Prize of the Max Schmidheiny Foundation at the University of St. Gallen
- 2004: Freedom medal
- 2006: International World Order of Culture, Science and Education, Award of the European Academy of Informatization, Belgium
- 2006: Inter Press Service, International Achievement Award for Annan’s lasting contributions to peace, security, and development
- 2006: Olof Palme Prize
- 2007: Wooden Crossbow, special award from the Swiss World Economic Forum
- 2007: People in Europe Award of Verlagsgruppe Passau
- 2007: MacArthur Foundation, MacArthur Award for International Justice
- 2007: North-South Prize of the Council of Europe
- 2008: Peace of Westphalia Prize
- 2008: Harvard University Honors Prize
- 2008: Gottlieb Duttweiler Award
- 2008: Peace of Westphalia Prize – Mnster (Westfalen)
- 2008: Open Society Award – CEU Business School Budapest
- 2011: Gothenburg Award
- 2012: Confucius Peace Prize
- Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, (Kumasi), Honorary Doctor of Science, 24 August 1998
- United Nations Mandated University for Peace, Honorary President, 1999
- Lund University, Honorary Doctor of Law, 1999
- National University of Ireland, Doctor of Law, 22 January 1999
- Technische Universitt Dresden, doctor honoris causa, 27 April 1999
- Howard University, honorary doctorate of humane letters, 8 May 1999
- Comenius University in Bratislava, doctor honoris causa, 15 June 1999
- University of Michigan, Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, 3 May 1999
- University of Notre Dame, Doctor of Letters, honoris causa, 21 May 2000
- Seton Hall University, John C. Whitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations, Honorary Doctorate, February 2001
- Brown University, Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, 28 May 2001
- Liberty Medal International Selection Commission, Liberty Medal, 4 July 2001
- Free University of Berlin, doctor honoris causa, 13 July 2001
- Tilburg University, Honorary Doctorate, 2002
- University of Alcal, Doctor Honoris Causa, 9 April 2002
- Northwestern University, Doctor of Laws, 21 June 2002
- University of Pittsburgh, honorary Doctor of Public and International Affairs degree 21 October 2003
- Ghent University (Belgium), doctor honoris causa 21 March 2003
- Carleton University, Legum Doctor, honoris causa, 9 March 2004
- University of Ottawa, Doctor of the University Degree, 9 March 2004
- University of Pennsylvania, Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, 16 May 2005
- Universidade Nova de Lisboa, doctor honoris causa, 12 October 2005
- The George Washington University, Doctor of Public Service, 5 May 2006
- University of Tokyo, Honorary Doctorate, 18 May 2006
- Georgetown University, Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, 30 October 2006
- University of St. Gallen, Switzerland, Max Schmidheiny Foundation Freedom Prize (originally awarded 2003, but postponed due to Annan’s illness), 18 November 2006
- Princeton University, Crystal Tiger Award, 28 November 2006
- Uppsala University, receiver of the Uppsala University Linnaeus Medal in gold, 23 May 2007, and doctor honoris causa 26 May 2007
- King’s College London, Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, 28 May 2008
- University of Neuchtel, Honorary Doctorate, 1 November 2008
- Glasgow Caledonian University, Doctor of Laws, 18 November 2011