ENG: Kofi Atta Annan (born 8 April 1938) is a Ghanaian diplomat who served as the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations, from 1 January 1997 to 31 December 2006. Annan and the United Nations were the co-recipients of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize for his founding of the Global AIDS and Health Fund to support developing countries in their struggle to care for their people.
Since February 2012, Annan has been the UN-Arab League envoy to Syria, to help find a resolution to ongoing conflict there.
Early years and education
Kofi Annan was born in Kumasi, Ghana. His twin sister Efua Atta, who died in 1991, shares the middle name Atta, which in Fante and Akan means 'twin'. Annan and his sister were born into one of the country's aristocratic families; both 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.
Pronunciation: 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, Ghana gained independence from Britain.
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 at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, United States, in 1961. Annan then did a DEA degree in International Relations at the Graduate Institute of International 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 of Science (M.S.) degree.
Annan is fluent in English, French, Akan, some Kru languages and other African languages.
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 the late 1980s, Annan returned to work for the UN, where he was appointed as an Assistant Secretary-General 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).
The Rwandan Genocide took place in 1994 while Annan directed UN Peacekeeping Operations. In 2003 Canadian ex-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. 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."
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 - Appointment
On 13 December 1996, the United Nations Security Council recommended Annan to replace the previous Secretary-General, Dr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali of Egypt, whose second term faced the veto of the United States. Confirmed four days later by the vote of the General Assembly, he started his first term as Secretary-General on 1 January 1997.
Secretary-General of the United Nations - Activities
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 a Global AIDS and Health Fund to stimulate the increased international spending needed to help developing countries confront the HIV/AIDS crisis.
On 10 December 2001, Annan and the United Nations were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, "for their work for a better organized and more peaceful world".
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.
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.
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: "[T]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. [...] [That] 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 U.S. 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 confirmed 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.
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."
Upon his return to Ghana, Annan was immediately suggested as a candidate to become the country's next President.
He has 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), became a member of the Global Elders, was appointed president of the Global Humanitarian Forum in Geneva, and was selected for the MacArthur Foundation Award for International Justice.
In the beginning of 2008, as head of the Panel of Eminent African Personalities, Annan participated in the negotiations to end the civil unrest in Kenya. He threatened to leave the negotiations as mediator if a quick decision was not made. On 26 February 2008 he suspended talks to end Kenya's violent post-election crisis. On 28 February, Annan managed to have President Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga sign a coalition government agreement and was widely lauded by many Kenyans for this landmark achievement. That was the best deal achieved then under the mediation efforts.
Annan is a member of the Club of Madrid. 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 is a member of the Africa Progress Panel (APP), an independent authority on Africa launched in April 2007 to focus world leaders' attention on delivering their commitments to the continent. The Panel launched a major report in London on Monday 16 June 2008 entitled Africa's Development: Promises and Prospects.
Kofi Annan was appointed the Chancellor of the University of Ghana in 2008.
Annan has signed up to be one of the Counsellors at One Young World a non-profit organisation which hopes to bring together 1500 young global leaders of tomorrow from every country in the world.
In May 2009 Columbia University announced that Annan will join a new program being launched by Dean John Coatsworth at the School of International and Public Affairs as one of the first group of Global Fellows. The Global Fellows program will bring 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 Center for Pluralism, Canada’s new international research and education center dedicated to the study and practice of pluralism worldwide. The Global Center for Pluralism is an initiative of His Highness the Aga Khan in partnership with the Government of Canada. The Center is located at 330 Sussex Drive in Ottawa, Canada. Dedicated to the creation of successful societies, the Center 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.
A member of the Foundation Chirac's honour committee when former French president Jacques Chirac launched it in 2008, Kofi Annan participates as jury member for the Prize for Conflict Prevention awarded every year by this foundation. He also created the Kofi Annan Foundation dedicated to sustainable development and peace.
Work in Syria
On 23 February 2012, Annan was appointed as the UN-Arab League envoy to Syria, in an attempt to curb the growing violence there. He has developed a six-point plan for peace.
- 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.