Flags fly at half-mast as world mourns Kofi Annan

BY: Daily Graphic
Kofi Annan
Kofi Annan

About 48 hours after the death of global icon, Kofi Annan, following a short illness, world leaders continue to celebrate his contribution to humanity.

His death has attracted comments on both traditional and social media platforms.

All the comments have something to say about the contribution of the former United Nations Secretary General to global peace and human development.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, former Presidents Jerry John Rawlings, John Dramani Mahama and, the United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres; the British Prime Minister, Theresa May; the Russian President, Vladimir Putin; the French President, Emmanuel Macron, and the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, have all paid glowing tributes to Kofi Annan’s memory.

Other leaders who have also mourned Mr Annan’s death are the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu; the South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa; the Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari; the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, and former US Presidents Barrack Obama and Bill Clinton.

In recognition of Mr Annan’s stature and to mourn him, President Akufo-Addo has directed that Ghana’s National Flag should fly at half-mast across the country and in all the country’s diplomatic missions across the world from today for one week in Mr Annan’s honour.


In a tribute to extol the Ghanaian international diplomat, President Akufo-Addo said: "I have directed that, in his honour, Ghana’s National Flag will fly at half-mast across the country and in all Ghana’s diplomatic missions across the world from Monday, August 20, 2018, for one week.”

A Nobel Laureate, Kofi Annan died at age 80 in Switzerland last Saturday, August 18, surrounded by his wife, Nane Maria, and their children Ama, Kojo and Nina.

He was reported to have fallen ill on his way back from South Africa after attending the centenary celebration of the birth of a former South African President, Nelson Mandela.

He was hospitalised in Geneva and later airlifted to the Swiss capital, Bern, where he died peacefully.

Tribute

President Akufo-Addo wrote: "The government and the people of Ghana, First Lady Rebecca and I are deeply saddened by the news of the death, in Bern, Switzerland, of one of our greatest compatriots, Mr Kofi Annan.

"I extend, on behalf of the entire Ghanaian nation, our sincere, heartfelt condolences to his beloved widow, Nane Maria, and to his devoted children, Ama, Kojo and Nina, on this great loss.

“I am, however, comforted by the information, after speaking to Nane Maria, that he died peacefully in his sleep."

He added: "Consummate international diplomat and highly respected former Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr Kofi Annan was the first from sub-Saharan Africa to occupy this exalted position.

"He brought considerable renown to our country by this position and through his conduct and comportment in the global arena. He was an ardent believer in the capacity of the Ghanaian to chart his or her own course onto the path of progress and prosperity. Undoubtedly, he excelled in the various undertakings of his life, leaving in his trail most pleasant memories.

"Rest in perfect peace, Kofi. You have earned it. God bless."

Former President Mahama

Former President Mahama, in his tribute, described the late UN Secretary General as a person who spent his life working for global peace, security and sustainable development.

“He lived and worked for global peace, security and sustainable development in very challenging times. A proud son of Ghana and Africa. RIP, Kofi Annan,” Mr Mahama posted on his Facebook page on Saturday.

In his tribute on Tweeter, former President Rawlings wrote: “My sincere condolences to the wife and family of Kofi Annan. Global diplomacy has lost a true gem. Kofi Annan was a fine diplomat who committed most of his professional life to world peace. He was one of the best; a born diplomat. He made Ghana and Africa proud and left a great legacy at the United Nations. Rest in Peace, Kofi Annan.”

President mourns with bereaved family

Meanwhile, President Akufo-Addo yesterday led a government delegation to commiserate with the family of the late Annan at the family residence at the Airport Residential Area.

Speaking on the solemn occasion, the President assured the family that “the government stands ready to lead Ghanaians to offer the late international icon a befitting burial”.

He said Mr Annan, who came across as an International civil servant par excellence and world peacemaker, raised the flag of Ghana aloft with dignity and honour and that the entire nation was saddened by his demise.

President Akufo-Addo was accompanied by the Chief of Staff, Mrs Frema Osei Opare, and one of her deputies, Mr Francis Asenso Boakye; the Minister of the Interior, Mr Ambrose Dery; the Deputy Minister of Defence, Major Derrick Oduro (retd), and some government officials.

The President encouraged the family not to extend the time for the burial service too far but fix a date for Mr Annan to be buried as early as possible.

Writing in the book of condolence opened at the family house, President Akufo-Addo stated in part: “A great Ghanaian who served his country, Africa and humanity with humility and dignity has left for his Maker. Ghana has suffered a great loss for his passing.”

Ambassador Kwabena Annan, a representative of the family, who received the President and his entourage, thanked the President and the government for the swift manner in which they had called at the family residence to mourn with them.

He said the family would collaborate with the government in the organisation of the funeral of the illustrious son of the land.

Death

In a post on Facebook to break the news of Mr Annan’s death, the Annan Family and the Kofi Annan Foundation wrote: "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, August 18 after a short illness. His wife, Nane, and their children, Ama, Kojo and Nina, were by his side during his last days.

"Kofi Annan was a global statesman and deeply committed internationalist who fought throughout his life for a fairer and more peaceful world. During his distinguished career and leadership of the United Nations, he was an ardent champion of peace, sustainable development, human rights and the rule of law.

"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. He will be greatly missed by so many around the world, as well as his staff at the foundation and his many former colleagues in the United Nations system. He will remain in our hearts forever."

The Annan Family requested for "privacy at this time of mourning”, while “arrangements to celebrate his remarkable life will be announced later".

Biography

Mr Annan was the seventh Secretary General of the United Nations and the Founder and Chair of the Kofi Annan Foundation.

In 2001, he and the United Nations were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace.

He was praised for being “pre-eminent in bringing new life to the organisation”. (Norwegian Nobel Committee, October 2001)
With the Kofi Annan Foundation, he mobilised political will to overcome threats to peace, development and human rights.

Mr Annan believed that the expertise and evidence needed to solve pressing problems such as poverty, violent conflict and poor governance in most cases already existed, saying that progress was held back too often due to lack of leadership and political will to use them to identify and deliver solutions.

He set up the Kofi Annan Foundation in 2007 to mobilise leaders of all sectors to provide leadership where it was needed.

The foundation works on the premise that there can be no long-term peace without development and no sustainable development without peace and that no society can long remain prosperous without the rule of law and respect for human rights.

The foundation works to identify new threats to peace and security and supports Mr Annan’s preventive diplomacy and mediation activities.

Kofi Annan chaired the Global Commission on Elections, Democracy and Security (March 2011 to September 2012) and in January 2013 launched the West Africa Commission on Drugs as a response to the surge in drug trafficking and consumption in West Africa and their impact on security, governance and public health.

The foundation also works with selected partner organisations to amplify Mr Annan’s voice and catalyse effective action on the promotion of food and nutrition security, sustainable development and support for good governance, the rule of law and respect for human rights.

In early 2008, he led the African Union’s Panel of Eminent African Personalities which mediated a peaceful resolution to post-election violence in Kenya.

Today, the foundation devotes considerable time to supporting democracy and elections with integrity.

From February to August 2012, he was the UN-Arab League Joint Special Envoy for Syria, mandated to seek a resolution to the conflict there.

Mr Annan was the Founding Chairman of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), which works for food security and prosperous Africa by promoting rapid, sustainable agricultural growth based on smallholder farmers.

AGRA’s programmes invest in soil regeneration and health, improved seeds, access to markets and building capacity and investment throughout the agricultural value chain.

He chaired the African Progress Panel, which advocates at the highest level for equitable and sustainable development in Africa. The panel includes distinguished individuals from the public and the private sectors and publishes an annual Africa progress report.

He was an active member of The Elders, an independent group of global leaders who work together for peace and human rights, and in 2013 was appointed its Chair.

Mr Annan was the Chancellor of the University of Ghana and held a number of positions at universities around the world.

He was a board member, patron or honorary member of a number of organisations, including the United Nations Foundation.

His widely acclaimed memoir: Interventions: A Life in War and Peace, was published in 2012.

UN Secretary General

Mr Annan was UN Secretary General from January 1997 to December 2006.

One of his main priorities during the period was a comprehensive programme of reforms that sought to revitalise the UN and make the international system more effective.

He was a constant advocate for human rights, the rule of law, the Millennium Development Goals and Africa and sought to bring the organisation closer to the global public by forging ties with civil society, the private sector and other partners.

At his initiative, UN peacekeeping was strengthened in ways that enabled the UN to cope with a rapid rise in the number of operations and personnel. It was also at his urging that, in 2005, member states established two new inter-governmental bodies: the Peace-building Commission and the Human Rights Council.

Mr 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.

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

Initiatives

Mr Annan undertook wide-ranging diplomatic initiatives. In 1998, he helped to ease the transition to civilian rule in Nigeria. In the same year, he visited Iraq to resolve an impasse between Iraq and the UN Security Council over compliance with resolutions on weapons inspections and other matters. That effort helped to avoid an outbreak of hostilities which was imminent at that time.

In 1999, he was deeply involved in the diplomatic process that led to Timor-Leste’s independence from Indonesia.

He was responsible for certifying Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000, and in 2006 his efforts contributed to securing a cessation of hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah.

Also in 2006, he mediated a settlement of the dispute between Cameroon and Nigeria over the Bakassi Peninsula.

Mr Annan’s efforts to strengthen the management, coherence and accountability of the UN involved major investments in training and technology, the introduction of a new whistleblower policy and financial disclosure requirements and steps to improve co-ordination at country level.

Early career

He joined the UN system 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 Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Geneva and in various senior posts in New York, dealing with human resource, budget, finance and staff security.

Immediately before becoming UN Secretary General, he was Under-Secretary General for Peacekeeping and facilitated the repatriation from Iraq of more than 900 international staff and other non-Iraqi nationals and also served as Special Representative of the Secretary General to the former Yugoslavia and Special Envoy to NATO.
Mr Annan was born in Kumasi, Ghana, on April 8, 1938.

He was married to Nane and between them they had three children.