‘Kofi Annan was a committed internationalist’

BY: Kate Baaba Hudson
 Later in his career, Kofi Annan (centre - standing), joined The Elders Group of Statesmen, including a former South African President, Nelson Mandela (seated), pictured here in 2010
Later in his career, Kofi Annan (centre - standing), joined The Elders Group of Statesmen, including a former South African President, Nelson Mandela (seated), pictured here in 2010

International media have carried stories on the former Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), Mr Kofi Annan, who died last Saturday aged 80, in which he has been described in various positive ways.

A story by the VOA said the announcement on Twitter described Annan as a global statesman and a deeply committed internationalist who fought throughout his life for a fairer and more peaceful world.

It said during his distinguished career and leadership of the UN, he was an ardent champion of peace, sustainable development, human rights and the rule of law.

The VOA report said the current UN head Antonio Guterres described Annan as a "guiding force for good and said,: "In many ways, Kofi Annan was the United Nations."

Born in Ghana, the report said Mr Annan served the UN as its leader from 1997 to 2006.

It said he was also the first Secretary-General to emerge from the ranks of the UN staff.

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The Daily Mail reports that Mr Annan, who was one of the world’s most celebrated diplomats and a charismatic symbol of the United Nations who rose through its ranks to become secretary-general, has died.

It referred to an announcement by Mr Annan’s foundation in a tweet, saying he died at the age of 80 after a short, unspecified illness.

The story said his homeland of Ghana was shaken by his death and President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo had directed that flags flew at half-mast, and said: “One of our greatest compatriots. Rest in perfect peace, Kofi. You have earned it.”

He added in a tweet that Mr Annan’s wife Nane said he had “died peacefully in his sleep”.

Reports further recalled that Mr Annan led the UN through the divisive years of the Iraq war and the trauma of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The first secretary-general from sub-Saharan Africa, Ghanaian-born Annan was credited for raising the UN's profile during his two-term tenure, from January 1997 to December 2006.


According to the AP, people across Africa were expressing shock and sorrow over the death of Kofi Annan.

“We are devastated,” the Nelson Mandela Foundation says in a statement. “Africa and the world have lost a special human being.”

Annan had been chair of The Elders, an elite group of former leaders founded by Mandela.

The report said African leaders, including Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, were offering condolences.

Nigeria’s Amina Mohammed, the UN deputy Secretary-General, says in a tweet that Annan “gave hope to the voiceless” and she calls him “my friend, my hero, my inspiration.”


In an opinion expressed by Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs and carried by the CNN, the Professor said “In every generation we depend on a few people of supreme decency and intelligence to hold the world together.

In Jewish tradition, there are at all times 36 tzadikim, righteous people, without whom the world would perish.”

“Kofi Annan was one of the righteous people, a man of extraordinary intelligence, decency, warmth and joy of life.

He helped to keep our world from blowing itself apart, or dividing mercilessly between the rich and the poor,” he stated.

Kofi's core idea was that our crowded, interconnected world required economic justice, peace and human rights.

“He would often say that there could be no development without security, no security without development, and neither security nor development without human rights,” said the professor.

Mr Anann was said to have seen the need for the world to join together to deliver the end of poverty, the cessation of war and the protection of human dignity and he believed that the UN was the unique global institution that could support these immense ambitions, and he made it his life's work to fashion a UN for our times.

“He inspired countless others, myself included, to devote ourselves to the work of the United Nations.”

The CNN report said Kofi opened up the doors of the UN to the people of the world and made sure that people all over the world would regard the UN as theirs, not merely for their governments.