Today, April 8, marks the birthday of Kofi Annan, arguably the greatest among all United Nations Secretary Generals, and also the world’s foremost diplomat of all time.
After distinguishing himself as a global servant par excellence, the old man died. That is almost four years ago. But while he is expected to be resting in perfect peace, the legendary figure has literally been woken up from his eternal sleep.
Since February 24 of this year the deadly sounds of hell fire being rained upon Ukraine, a sovereign state, have been disturbing his peace. The constant shelling, bombing raids, and artillery fire from Russia’s awesome arms build-up along its borders targeted at both physical infrastructure and human beings in Ukraine have kept him awake.
The former Ghanaian-born UN Secretary General made several efforts towards the preservation of global peace and security during his tenure. His priority was to raise issues that directly concerned the people instead of governments. He thus, won a Nobel Peace prize in 2001 together with the organization he headed. In conferring the prize the award committee said, “Kofi Annan had been pre-eminent in bringing new life to the organization.”
The legacy of Kofi Annan who passed away in Switzerland in August 18, 2018, included developing several monumental initiatives that sought to make it easier for the UN Security Council to speak up with a common voice on issues concerning interventions.
“Unless the Security Council could unite around the aim of confronting massive human rights violations and crimes against humanity on the scale of Kosovo it would betray the very ideals that inspired the founding of the United Nations.” He once said.
What is happening in Ukraine currently is a reminder of what the African Global Icon, Kofi Annan, yearned for, “a United Nations that intervenes rather than stands by in the face of humanitarian crisis”.
The current episode in the history of mankind where the human rights of people from a weaker nation are under a serious threat because of “a special military action” by a world’s superpower has become a an unimaginable humanitarian catastrophe and a burden on humankind.
Kofi Annan, during his tenure identified one particular bottle neck in the UN system due to the existing world order and tried to deal with it. In particular, he had found as untenable, situations where nations hide behind sovereignty to go on a slaughtering spree by orchestrating conflicts.
The two times UN Secretary General appeared to have a foreknowledge of what was in store for mankind by issuing caution statements on the need for interventions to save innocent people. With what is going on in Ukraine, where a super power has become an aggressor, one can therefore say that he has been vindicated.
In his famous book, “Interventions, life in war and peace”, Kofi Annan gave a vivid account of several failures on the part of the UN in the face of conflicts which rocked Kosovo, Somalia and Rwanda.
The monumental failures came about because the world body could not intervene when things got out of hand. The lack of consensus among the Security Council Members was the main contributory factor. However, those failures taught the world body a lesson which Kofi Annan captured extensively in his great book.
According to him the numerous failures “triggered a global debate on: intervention and sovereignty, the rights of peoples and the responsibilities of states.”
The aggression in Ukraine can be compared to the River Nile’s easy flow towards the Mediterranean – no impediment in its way to stop the flow or direct it.
The unfolding scenario in Ukraine has become a burden on all human kind. But only a military intervention on the orders of the Security Council can be the only way out so long as Russia has dug its heels in. But the challenge is : Who is to bell the cat?
The US has offered her reasons while she cannot intervene militarily to end the conflict while the other NATO members have done same. So the rest of the world has become a sort of spectators and things continue to fall apart with more Ukrainian civilians including children and the elderly dying at will each day.
The Security Council is in a dilemma because it cannot order a military intervention Any such decision will be vetoed. What a world we live in where one country can hold the whole world to ransom……..!
Really, we need a new world order where decisions that could have a long term negative impact on the lives of all mankind cannot be taken on the terms of just one country. I cry for Ukraine
Brafo-Anakwah is a Kumasi based journalist - +233 24 4361404