Home FOREIGN AFRICA BREAKING: Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan dies at 80

BREAKING: Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan dies at 80

Kofi Annam


FORMER United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan has died at age 80.

Mr Annan died in the early hours of Saturday in Switzerland after a short illness, according to a statement issued by his family.


The Nobel Peace Laureate was the seventh Secretary-General of the UN from January 1997 to December 2006, and became the first black African man to take on the top job as the world’s top diplomat.

He was founder and Chairman of the Kofi Annan Foundation, which issued a statement on social media, saying: “It is with immense sadness that the Annan family and the Kofi Annan Foundation announce that Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations and Nobel Peace Laureate, passed away peacefully on Saturday 18th August after a short illness…”

“His wife Nane and their children Ama, Kojo and Nina were by his side during his last days,” it said.


UN Secretary General Kofi Annan waves after delivering his final speech to the 61st session of the UN General Assembly in New York in 2006. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

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“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.”

The United Nations Migration Agency also confirmed his death in a tweet, saying: “Today we mourn the loss of a great man, a leader, and a visionary: former @UN Secretary General @KofiAnnan. A life well lived. A life worth celebrating.”

Today we mourn the loss of a great man, a leader, and a visionary: former @UN Secretary General @KofiAnnan.

A life well lived. A life worth celebrating. pic.twitter.com/z51WTB4Y65

— IOM – UN Migration (@UNmigration) August 18, 2018

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres voiced deep sorrow at the news his predecessor had passed away, calling him “a guiding force for good”.

“Kofi Annan was a guiding force for good,” Guterres said in a statement shortly after news broke of Annan’s 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 added.

He quickly became a familiar face on television, with his name making newspaper headlines, and he was a sought-after guest at gala events and New York dinner parties.

Former UN General Secretary Kofi Annan and his wife Nane in 2013. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

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The UN high commissioner for human rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said he was grief-stricken over Annan’s death.

“Kofi was humanity’s best example, the epitome, of human decency and grace. In a world now filled with leaders who are anything but that, our loss, the world’s loss becomes even more painful,” he said.

“He was a friend to thousands and a leader of millions.”

His home country of Ghana has now declared a week of mourning after his death.

Describing Annan as a “consummate” diplomat, Ghana’s Presdient Akufo-Addo said in a statement that Ghana was “deeply saddened” by news of his death.


Mr Annan was born in Kumasi, Ghana, on April 8, 1938. He studied at the University of Science and Technology in Ghana and completed his undergraduate work in economics at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1961.

From there he did his graduate studies at the Institute of International Affairs in Geneva, and in 1972 earned a Master of Science degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management.

He is fluent in English, French and a number of African languages. He went on to meet his wife, Nane, and they had three children Ama, Kojo and Nina.

Former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan and his wife, Nane, visit the paediatric Service of the Zinder Hospital in Zinder, Niger, in 2005. Picture: APSource:AP

He was the first Secretary-General to be appointed from within the organisation’s ranks. He first joined the UN in 1962 as an administrative and budget officer with the World Health Organisation in Geneva,

He later served with the Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa, the UN Emergency Force (UNEF II) in Ismailia, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Geneva.

Before he went on to be Secretary-General, he was Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping. Mr. Annan also served as Special Representative of the Secretary-General to the former Yugoslavia (1995-1996), and facilitated the repatriation from Iraq of more than 900 international staff and other non-Iraqi nationals (1990).





Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan & wife Nane outside the United Nations New York headquarters in 1998 following successful negotiations in Baghdad. Picture: AFPSource:AFP


Mr Annan pushed for reform to rebuild the United Nations and make it more effective.

He made sure that UN peacekeepers had more resources. In 2005, Member States established two new intergovernmental bodies: the Peacebuilding Commission and the Human Rights Council.

Mr Annan also had a pivotal role in setting up 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.


United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan being escorted by USA soldiers upon his arrival in Baghdad, Iraq 12 Nov 2005. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

His “Global Compact” initiative back in 1999, has become the world’s largest effort to promote corporate social responsibility.

In 1998, he helped to ease the transition to civilian rule in Nigeria. In that same year, he went to Iraq to try and solve a breakdown in talks with the Security Council in relation to weapons inspections to avoid further war and destruction.



In 1999, he was a key figure in helping Timor-Leste gain independence from Indonesia.

He was the diplomat behind certifying Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000, and in 2006, his efforts helped bring peace between Israel and Hezbollah.




Annan was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize along with the UN in 2001 “for their work for a better organised and more peaceful world”.

He has also received numerous honorary degrees and many other national and international prizes, medals and honours.


Director General of the The Norwegian Nobel Committee, Gunnar Berge, awards Kofi Annan with the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo. Picture: AFPSource:AFP


Queen Elizabeth II investing the former Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan with an honorary Grand Cross of the order of St. Michael and St. George knighthood at Buckingham Palace in 2007. Picture: APSource:AP


Mr Annan’s role as an advocate for human rights did not stop. He helped negotiate an end to violence in Kenya that killed 1,220 people after the African nation’s December 2007 election. He also went on to work within the Kofi Annan Foundation as Chairman. He was also chair of The Elders, the group founded by Nelson Mandela.


Former South Africa president Nelson Mandela is reunited with The Elders, who included former secretary-general of the UN Kofi Annan. Picture: APSource:AP

He was a Chairman of the Africa Progress Panel and led the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa.


Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and founder of Live 8 charitable foundation and former rock star Bob Geldof launch the Africa Progress Report in Addis Ababa, on May 11, 2012. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

In February 2012, he was tasked with bringing a resolution to the Syrian crisis after being appointed as joint UN and Arab League envoy.

He later resigned in August of that year.


Syrian President Bashar Assad, right, meets with Kofi Annan, the United Nations special envoy to Syria, in Damascus, Syria, on Saturday March 10, 2012. Picture: APSource:AP

At the time, former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement saying: “Kofi Annan deserves our profound admiration for the selfless way in which he has put his formidable skills and prestige to this most difficult and potentially thankless of assignments. He has worked within the mandate provided to him by the General Assembly and with the co-operation of various Member States.”


Russian President Vladimir Putin with former UN-Arab League special envoy and peace mediator Kofi Annan during their meeting in central Moscow. Picture: AFPSource:AFP


Former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon meets with former UN-Arab League Joint Special Envoy for Syria Kofi Annan. Picture: AFPSource:AFP


Mr Annan met many Hollywood stars who have pledged their support to global fights against war, poverty and other initiatives for change.

U2 frontman Bono was photographed with Mr Annan when he gave a banner representing a petition signed by 21 million people to Nigeria’s president in 2000. Bono was delivering a message from 21 million people who had signed the petition to end global debt.



Later, Mr Annan was seen with Bono and then-Live8 organiser Bob Geldof before a meeting at the G8 Summit in Gleneagles, Scotland in 2005.


Kofi Annan shows the way to U2 singer Bono, left, and Live8 organiser Bob Geldof. Picture: APSource:News Limited

Mr Annan’s wife was also right by his side during his time at the UN, where she helped present Angelina Jolie with her United Nations Correspondents Association Citizen of the World award in 2003.



Australia’s own Nicole Kidman also met Mr Annan and his wife at the premiere of her movie in 2005, The Interpeter, which featured her taking on the role of an interpreter for the UN.


Nicole Kidman with Kofi Annan and his wife Nane, at the premiere of her latest film The Interpreter at the Ziegfeld Theatre in New York City in 2005. Picture: GettySource:AFP

Mr Annan also filmed a scene with the Muppet character “Elmo” during a taping of Sesame Street in New York in 2001. At one point Annan offered Elmo a job at the UN and Elmo asked if he could win a Nobel prize, too.

Mr Annan’s taping came a few days before he was to accept the 100th Nobel Peace Prize on December 10.

Source:  AFP



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