Former United Nations Secretary-General and Ghanaian statesman Kofi Annan has died at a hospital in Switzerland on Saturday morning.
Annan’s family confirmed his death after Ghanaian media had widely reported his demise. The family said in a statement that he died after a short illness and his wife and three children were by his side during his last days.
“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…” the family announced.
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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… pic.twitter.com/42nGOxmcPZ
— Kofi Annan (@KofiAnnan) August 18, 2018
Born in Kumasi, Ghana, on April 8, 1938, Kofi Atta Annan was the only black Secretary-General of the United Nations and second African after Egyptian diplomat Boutros Boutros-Ghali who died in 2016 at the age of 93.
Annan succeeded Boutros Boutros-Ghali as the 7th Secretary-General and served from January 1997 to December 2006. He was a 2001 Nobel Peace Prize laureate and the founder and chairman of the Kofi Annan Foundation, as well as chairman of The Elders, an international organization founded by Nelson Mandela.
From 1954 to 1957, Kofi Annan attended the elite Mfantsipim school in Cape Coast and then studied economics at the Kumasi College of Science and Technology, now the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology from 1958. He later received a Ford Foundation grant which enabled him to complete his undergraduate studies in economics at the Macalester College in Minnesota in 1961.
After completing his post-graduate studies at the Graduate Institute for International Studies in Geneva in the early 1960s, Annan joined the World Health Organization in Geneva, at the lowest professional entry level of “P-1” and later transferred to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He later returned to school as a mid-career student at the Sloan School of Management at the renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he obtained a Master of Science degree in Management in 1972.
He subsequently served in the UN peacekeeping mission that supervised the truce between Israel and the Arab States in the Middle East, as a senior manager in the UN Joint Staff Pension Fund in New York, and as Chief of Personnel at the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva. In the mid-1980s he became Director of Personnel at UN Headquarters in New York and, in 1990, Annan was appointed Assistant Secretary-General and the United Nations Controller with responsibility for the budget and fiscal management of the world body.
Kofi Annan’s political career really took off when UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali made him Assistant Secretary-General in the peacekeeping department and later promoted him to Under-Secretary-General and head of UN peacekeeping.
In 1995, as Boutros-Ghali’s tenure wound down to a close and rumours swirled that Annan might be in the running for his job, the Egyptian diplomat appointed Annan as his Special Representative for the Former Yugoslavia, which had become known as “the graveyard of diplomats”. The assignment lasted four months.
During his tenure at the UN, Annan worked to combat HIV, especially in Africa; and launched the UN Global Compact. He also had a fair share of criticism for not expanding the Security Council.
Annan did not stop his diplomatic role after the end of his term with the UN, he unsuccessfully served as the UN–Arab League Joint Special Representative for Syria in 2012, a role he quit after frustrations due to lack of progress to help find a resolution to the ongoing conflict.
He later became the head of the UN commission to investigate the Rohingya crisis in September 2016.
Kofi Annan was married to Nane Maria Lagergren, a Swedish lawyer at the U.N. who has been his wife since 1984, a year after his divorce with Titi Alakija, a Nigerian woman from an aristocratic family, whom he married in 1965. He left behind his wife Nane and three children, Ama, Kojo and Nina.