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Kofi Annan

In office
1 January 1997 – 31 December 2006
Deputy Louise Fréchette (1997-2006)
Mark Malloch Brown (2006)
Preceded by Boutros Boutros-Ghali
Succeeded by Ban Ki-moon

Born 8 April 1938 (1938-04-08) (age 71)
Kumasi, Gold Coast
Nationality Ghanaian
Spouse(s) Titi Alakija (divorced)
Nane Maria Annan
Alma mater Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology
Macalester College
Graduate Institute of International Studies
Religion Christian (Protestant)[1]

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.


Early years and family

Kofi Annan was born in the Kofandros section of Kumasi, Ghana – in what was then the British colony of the Gold Coast. He is a twin, a respected status in Ghanaian culture. His twin sister Efua Atta, who died in 1991, shares the middle name 'Atta', which in Fante and Akan means 'twin'.

Annan's family was part of the country's elite; both of his grandfathers and his uncle were tribal chiefs.[2]

Annan is married to Nane Maria Annan, née Lagergren, a Swedish lawyer and artist who is the half-niece of Raoul Wallenberg. He has two children, Kojo and Ama, from his previous marriage to Titi Alakija, a Nigerian, whom he divorced in the late 1970s. Titi Alakija died in June 2007 in London after being sick for four months. Annan also has one stepchild, Nina Cronstedt de Groot, Nane's daughter from a previous marriage.

Annan and his wife with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie at the World Economic Forum.


In the Ghanaian tradition, there are no family names that children inherit from their parents. Children are named according to the day of the week on which they were born, and according to how many of their siblings came before them. Kofi in Akan is the name that corresponds with Friday. [3] Annan is the name that corresponds with the fourth-born child. The middle name, Atta, indicates that he is a twin.

In his earlier years at the UN, Annan's last name had widely been mispronounced as rhyming with "anon"; Annan has let it be known that he rhymes his name with "cannon".[4]


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".[5] In 1957, the year Annan graduated from Mfantsipim, Ghana gained independence from Britain.

In 1958, Annan began studying for a degree in 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 (Institut universitaire des hautes études internationales IUHEI) in Geneva, Switzerland, from 1961–62, later attending the MIT Sloan School of Management (1971–72) Sloan Fellows program and receiving a Master of Science (M.S.) degree.

Annan is fluent in English, French, Kru, other dialects of Akan, and other African languages.[citation needed]

Early career

In 1962, Annan started working as a Budget Officer for the World Health Organization, an agency of the United Nations. From 1974 to 1976, he worked as the Director of Tourism in Ghana. Annan then returned to work for the United Nations as an Assistant Secretary-General in three consecutive positions: Human Resources, Management and Security Coordinator, from 1987 to 1990; Program Planning, Budget and Finance, and Controller, from 1990 to 1992; and Peacekeeping Operations, from March 1993 to February 1994.

The Rwandan Genocide took place while Annan was in charge of UN Peacekeeping Operations. In his book Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda, Canadian ex-General Roméo Dallaire, who was force commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda, claims that Annan was overly passive in his response to the incipient genocide. General Dallaire explicitly asserts that Annan held back U.N. troops from intervening to settle the conflict, and from providing more logistical and material support. In particular, Dallaire claims that Annan failed to provide any responses to his repeated faxes asking him for access to a weapons depository, something that could have helped defend the endangered Tutsis. Ten years after the genocide, in which an estimated 800,000 people were killed, Annan admitted "I could and should have done more to sound the alarm and rally support."[6]

Annan served as Under-Secretary-General until October 1995, when he was made a Special Representative of the Secretary-General to the former Yugoslavia, serving for five months in that capacity before returning to his duties as Under-Secretary-General in April 1996.

Secretary-General of the United Nations


On 13 December 1996, Annan was recommended by the United Nations Security Council to replace the previous Secretary-General, Dr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali of Egypt, whose second term faced the veto of the United States.[7][8] He was confirmed four days later by the vote of the General Assembly,[9] and he started his first term as Secretary-General on 1 January 1997.


Annan with then President of Russia Vladimir Putin at United Nations Headquarters on 16 November 2001.

Mark Malloch Brown succeeded Louise Frechette as Annan's Deputy Secretary-General in April 2004.

In April 2001, he issued a five-point "Call to Action" to address the HIV/AIDS pandemic. As Secretary-General, Annan saw this pandemic as a "personal priority" and proposed the establishment of a Global AIDS and Health Fund in an attempt to stimulate the increased 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, Annan was asked about the legal authority for the invasion, and responded, "from our point of view, from the charter point of view it was illegal."[10][11]

Annan supported sending a UN peacekeeping mission to Darfur, Sudan, and 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 15 States representatives of the Council at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF) Conference Center at the Rockefeller family estate at Pocantico, which was sponsored by both the RBF and the UN.[12] He and his wife also attended the Playhouse at the family estate on the occasion of Brooke Astor's 100th birthday celebration.[13] He is a strong supporter and guest of the family's Asia Society in New York.[14]

Lubbers sexual-harassment investigation

In June 2004, Annan was given a copy of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) report on the complaint of sexual harassment, abuse of authority, and retaliation against Ruud Lubbers, UN High Commissioner for Refugees. The report also discussed allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct against Werner Blatter, Director of UNHCR Personnel, by a long-serving staff member. The investigation report found Ruud Lubbers guilty of sexual harassment and no mention was made publicly of the other charge against a senior official or the two subsequent complaints she filed later that year. In the course of the official investigation, Lubbers wrote a letter that some speculate was a threat to the female worker who had brought the charges of misconduct.[15] However, on 15 July 2004, Lubbers was declared innocent by Kofi Annan.[16] His decision only lasted until November when OIOS issued its annual report to the UN General Assembly noting it has found Lubbers guilty. Widely reported in the media, these events served to weaken Annan's position.

On 17 November 2004, Annan accepted a report clearing UN Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services Dileep Nair of political corruption and sexual harassment charges — charges which some viewed as retaliation against Nair for supporting the complainant in the Lubbers affair[citation needed]. However, clearance was not viewed favorably by some UN staff in New York, leading to extensive debate on 19 November. In February 2005, Lubbers resigned as head of the UN refugee agency.[17]

Oil-for-Food scandal

In December 2004, reports surfaced that the Secretary-General's son Kojo received payments from the Swiss company Cotecna Inspection SA, which won a lucrative contract under the UN Oil-for-Food Program. Kofi Annan called for an investigation into this matter.

The Independent Inquiry Committee into The United Nations Oil-for-Food Program was appointed by Annan[18] and led by former US Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker;[19], the director of the United Nations Association of the United States of America. In his first interview with the Inquiry Committee, Annan denied having had a meeting with Cotecna. Later in the inquiry he recalled that he had met with Cotecna's chief executive Elie-Georges Massey twice. In a final report issued on 27 October, the committee found insufficient evidence to indict Kofi Annan on any illegal actions, but did find fault with Mr. Benan Sevan, a Cypriot national who had worked for the UN for about 40 years. Appointed to his Oil-For-Food role by Kofi Annan, Mr. Sevan repeatedly asked Iraqis for allocations of oil to the African Middle East Petroleum Company. Sevan's behavior was "ethically improper", Volcker said to reporters. Sevan for his part, has repeatedly denied the charges and argues that he is being made a "scapegoat". The Volcker report was also highly critical of the UN management structure and the Security Council oversight and strongly recommended a new position of Chief Operating Officer to handle the fiscal and administrative responsibilities which currently fall to the Secretary General's office. The report listed the companies, both Western and Middle Eastern, who illegally benefited from the program.

Conflict between the United States and the United Nations

Kofi Annan supported[20] his deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown, who openly criticized segments of the United States media 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."[21] The interim U.S. ambassador John R. Bolton 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."[22] At the end of Kofi Annan's tenure as Secretary General, Bolton was asked to sum up Annan's years at the UN. He responded simply: "I'll pass."[23]

UN Resolution 61/225: World Diabetes Day

Kofi Annan was the overseeing Secretary-General of the United Nations General Assembly during the successful passing (by consensus) of UN Resolution 61/225 - World Diabetes Day. The Resolution was, and still remains, the second-ever UN General Assembly Resolution on any health-related issue (the other being HIV/AIDS). However, 61/225 remains the only Health-related UN Resolution to ever pass by consensus.

The Resolution was sponsored by the Republic of South Africa and Bangladesh, and was passed on 20 December 2006.

Farewell addresses

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.[24]

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."[25][26]

Recommendations for UN reform

After years of research, Annan presented a progress report, In Larger Freedom, to the UN General Assembly, on 21 March 2005. Annan recommended Security Council expansion and a host of other UN reforms.[27]

On 31 January 2006, Kofi Annan outlined his vision for a comprehensive and extensive reform of the UN in a policy speech to the United Nations Association UK. The speech, delivered at Central Hall, Westminster, also marked the 60th Anniversary of the first meetings of the UN General Assembly and UN Security Council.[28]

On 7 March 2006, he presented to the General Assembly his proposals for a fundamental overhaul of the United Nations Secretariat. The reform report is entitled: "Investing in the United Nations, For a Stronger Organization Worldwide".[29]

On 30 March 2006, he presented to the General Assembly his analysis and recommendations for updating the entire work programme of the United Nations Secretariat over the last 60 years. The report is entitled: "Mandating and Delivering: Analysis and Recommendations to Facilitate the Review of Mandates".[30]

Post-UN career

Upon his return to Ghana, Annan was immediately suggested as a candidate to become the country's next President.[31]

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.[32] On 26 February 2008 he suspended talks to end Kenya's violent post-election crisis.[33] 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 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.[34]

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.[35]

Kofi Annan was appointed the Chancellor of the University of Ghana in 2008.[36]

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.[37]

Mr. Annan is expected to be among the special guests, including Pete Postlethwaite and Gillian Anderson and Thom Yorke of Radiohead (singing live) at the global live premier of The Age of Stupid.


See also


  1. ^ Lefevere, Patricia (1998-12-11). "Annan: `Peace is never a perfect achievement' - United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 2008-02-26. 
  2. ^ Kofi Annan - The Man To Save The World? Saga Magazine, November 2002
  3. ^ Akan dictionary entry for Kofi at
  4. ^ Crossette, Barbara (1997-01-10). "New U.N. Chief Promises Reforms but Says He Won't Cut Jobs". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-02-25. 
  5. ^ Kofi Annan - Center of the Storm. Life Map. A Chief's Son PBS
  6. ^
  7. ^ United Nations (1996-12-13). "BIO/3051 - Kofi Annan of Ghana recommended by Security Council for appointment as Secretary-General of United Nations". Press release. Retrieved 2006-12-12. 
  8. ^ Traub, James (2006). The Best Intentions. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. pp. 66–67. ISBN 978-0-374-18220-5. 
  9. ^ United Nations (1996-12-17). "GA/9208 - General Assembly appoints Kofi Annan of Ghana as seventh Secretary-General". Press release. Retrieved 2006-12-12. 
  10. ^ "Iraq war illegal, says Annan". BBC News (BBC). 2004-09-16. Retrieved 2006-12-12. "When pressed on whether he viewed the invasion of Iraq as illegal, he said: "Yes, if you wish. I have indicated it was not in conformity with the UN charter from our point of view, from the charter point of view, it was illegal."" 
  11. ^ "Excerpts: Annan interview". BBC News (BBC). 2004-09-16. Retrieved 2006-12-12. 
  12. ^ "Pocantico Conferences 2005". Rockefeller Brothers Fund website. Retrieved 2006-12-12. 
  13. ^ Kuczynski, Alex (2002-04-01). "Grandest Of Dames Turns 100 in Style". New York Times: p. B3. Retrieved 2008-03-27. 
  14. ^ Boxer, Tim (April 2006). "Society’s 50th Milestone Honors Rockefellers". 15 Minutes Magazine. Retrieved 2006-12-12. 
  15. ^ "UN report slams Lubbers for 'regular sexual harassment'". Expatica. 2005-02-18. Retrieved 2006-12-12. 
  16. ^ Annan Clears Refugee Chief Of Harassment Accusations
  17. ^ UN refugee chief quits over sex claims(February 21, 2005)
  18. ^ "About the Committee". Independent Inquiry Committee into The United Nations Oil-for-Food Programme website. Retrieved 2006-12-12. 
  19. ^ "Members". Independent Inquiry Committee into The United Nations Oil-for-Food Programme website. Retrieved 2006-12-12. 
  20. ^ Annan Backs Deputy in Dispute With U.S.
  21. ^ Brown, Mark Malloch (2006-06-06). "UN needs US, US needs UN to face challenges -- HIV/AIDS, SUDAN -- that defy national solutions, says Deputy Secretary-General in New York address". United Nations website. United Nations. Retrieved 2006-12-12. 
  22. ^ "Speech by U. N. Leader Draws Angry Response From US". Fox News. 2006-06-07.,2933,198535,00.html. Retrieved 2006-12-12. 
  23. ^ "Iraq Study Group's Suggestion That U.S. Engage Iran And Syria In Talks About Iraq Leads To More Debate Than Resolve, In Washington And Iraq" - CNN NEWSROOM Transcripts (Aired December 11, 2006 - 09:00ET)
  24. ^ Leopold, Evelyn (2006-09-16). "UN's Annan depicts polarized world in farewell speech". Reuters. Retrieved 2006-12-12. 
  25. ^ "Annan chides US in final speech". BBC News (BBC). 2006-12-11. Retrieved 2006-12-11. 
  26. ^ Annan, Kofi (2006-12-11). "Independence, Missouri, 11 December 2006 - Secretary-General's address at the Truman Presidential Museum and Library followed by Questions and Answers". United Nations website. United Nations. Retrieved 2006-12-11. 
  27. ^ "In Larger Freedom". United Nations website. Retrieved 2006-12-12. 
  28. ^ "Annan addresses UNA-UK in London". United Nations website. Retrieved 2007-08-05. 
  29. ^ "Reforming the United Nations". United Nations website. Retrieved 2006-12-12. 
  30. ^ "Reforming the United Nations, Mandate Review". United Nations website. Retrieved 2006-12-12. 
  31. ^ Annan 'for president': Africa: News: News24
  32. ^ Annan: Kenya factions 'not capable' of agreement -
  33. ^ Annan suspends Kenya's post-election talks -
  34. ^ United Nations Foundation Board of Directors
  35. ^ APP, Press Release: Africa Progress Panel demands action on global food crisis “reversing decades of economic progress”, 16 June 2008,
  36. ^ "Kofi Annan appointed Chancellor of University of Ghana". General News of Wednesday, 30 July 2008 (Ghana Home Page). Retrieved 2008-08-01. 
  37. ^ Kofi Annan joins LKY school. The Straits Times Online. 3 September 2009[1]
  38. ^ "Honorary knighthood for Kofi Annan". Metro. 2007-10-24. Retrieved 2008-02-25. 

External links

Biographies, interviews, and profiles



Political offices
Preceded by
Boutros Boutros-Ghali
United Nations Secretary-General
1997 – 2007
Succeeded by
Ban Ki-moon
South Korea


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

We may have different religions, different languages, different colored skin, but we all belong to one human race. We all share the same basic values.

Kofi Atta Annan (born 8 April 1938) is a Ghanaian diplomat and the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations.



  • You can do a lot with diplomacy, but with diplomacy backed up by force you can get a lot more done.
  • [Saddam Hussein] is very calm - very, very calm. Never raises his voice. Well-informed, contrary to the sense outside that he is ill-informed and isolated. And decisive.
    • Press conference (24 February 1998)
  • Unless the Security Council is restored to its pre-eminent position as the sole source of legitimacy on the use of force, we are on a dangerous path to anarchy.
    • Speech at the centennial of the International Peace Conference (19 May 1999)
  • We may have different religions, different languages, different colored skin, but we all belong to one human race. We all share the same basic values.
    • As quoted in Simply Living: The Spirit of the Indigenous People (1999) edited by Shirley A. Jones
  • [The U.S.-led invasion of Iraq] was not in conformity with the UN Charter.
    • When the interviewer responded by asking "It was illegal?" Kofi Annan replied "Yes, if you wish. I have indicated it was not in conformity with the UN charter from our point of view, from the charter point of view, it was illegal."
    • BBC Interview (16 September 2004)
  • Well, the issue of a standing UN army has been raised by many because, quite frankly, the way we operate today is like telling Ottawa that I know you need a fire station but we will build one when the fire breaks. We have no army. When the crisis breaks then we begin to put an army together. We go around to governments and begin asking for troops. The question with a standing UN army is that it raises issues of budget issues, legal issues, where do you place it, under what jurisdiction? And the big boys, big countries don't want it. The smaller countries are also nervous.
  • The intention was really to do something dignified, something that is honest and reflects the work that this Organization does. And it is with that spirit that the producers and the directors approached their work, and I hope you will all agree they have done that.

Nobel lecture (2001)

Nobel lecture, Oslo, Norway, (10 December 2001)
  • Today, in Afghanistan, a girl will be born. Her mother will hold her and feed her, comfort her and care for her — just as any mother would anywhere in the world. In these most basic acts of human nature, humanity knows no divisions. But to be born a girl in today's Afghanistan is to begin life centuries away from the prosperity that one small part of humanity has achieved. It is to live under conditions that many of us in this hall would consider inhuman.
    I speak of a girl in Afghanistan, but I might equally well have mentioned a baby boy or girl in Sierra Leone. No one today is unaware of this divide between the world’s rich and poor. No one today can claim ignorance of the cost that this divide imposes on the poor and dispossessed who are no less deserving of human dignity, fundamental freedoms, security, food and education than any of us. The cost, however, is not borne by them alone. Ultimately, it is borne by all of us — North and South, rich and poor, men and women of all races and religions.
    Today's real borders are not between nations, but between powerful and powerless, free and fettered, privileged and humiliated. Today, no walls can separate humanitarian or human rights crises in one part of the world from national security crises in another.
  • Scientists tell us that the world of nature is so small and interdependent that a butterfly flapping its wings in the Amazon rainforest can generate a violent storm on the other side of the earth. This principle is known as the "Butterfly Effect." Today, we realize, perhaps more than ever, that the world of human activity also has its own "Butterfly Effect" — for better or for worse.
  • We have entered the third millennium through a gate of fire. If today, after the horror of 11 September, we see better, and we see further — we will realize that humanity is indivisible. New threats make no distinction between races, nations or regions. A new insecurity has entered every mind, regardless of wealth or status. A deeper awareness of the bonds that bind us all — in pain as in prosperity — has gripped young and old.
  • The 20th century was perhaps the deadliest in human history, devastated by innumerable conflicts, untold suffering, and unimaginable crimes. Time after time, a group or a nation inflicted extreme violence on another, often driven by irrational hatred and suspicion, or unbounded arrogance and thirst for power and resources. In response to these cataclysms, the leaders of the world came together at mid-century to unite the nations as never before.
    A forum was created — the United Nations — where all nations could join forces to affirm the dignity and worth of every person, and to secure peace and development for all peoples. Here States could unite to strengthen the rule of law, recognize and address the needs of the poor, restrain man’s brutality and greed, conserve the resources and beauty of nature, sustain the equal rights of men and women, and provide for the safety of future generations.
  • In the 21st Century I believe the mission of the United Nations will be defined by a new, more profound, awareness of the sanctity and dignity of every human life, regardless of race or religion. This will require us to look beyond the framework of States, and beneath the surface of nations or communities. We must focus, as never before, on improving the conditions of the individual men and women who give the state or nation its richness and character.
  • Over the past five years, I have often recalled that the United Nations' Charter begins with the words: "We the peoples." What is not always recognized is that "we the peoples" are made up of individuals whose claims to the most fundamental rights have too often been sacrificed in the supposed interests of the state or the nation.
  • A genocide begins with the killing of one man — not for what he has done, but because of who he is. A campaign of 'ethnic cleansing' begins with one neighbour turning on another. Poverty begins when even one child is denied his or her fundamental right to education. What begins with the failure to uphold the dignity of one life, all too often ends with a calamity for entire nations.
    In this new century, we must start from the understanding that peace belongs not only to states or peoples, but to each and every member of those communities. The sovereignty of States must no longer be used as a shield for gross violations of human rights. Peace must be made real and tangible in the daily existence of every individual in need. Peace must be sought, above all, because it is the condition for every member of the human family to live a life of dignity and security.
  • The rights of the individual are of no less importance to immigrants and minorities in Europe and the Americas than to women in Afghanistan or children in Africa. They are as fundamental to the poor as to the rich; they are as necessary to the security of the developed world as to that of the developing world.
    From this vision of the role of the United Nations in the next century flow three key priorities for the future: eradicating poverty, preventing conflict, and promoting democracy. Only in a world that is rid of poverty can all men and women make the most of their abilities. Only where individual rights are respected can differences be channelled politically and resolved peacefully. Only in a democratic environment, based on respect for diversity and dialogue, can individual self-expression and self-government be secured, and freedom of association be upheld.
  • I humbly accept the Centennial Nobel Peace Prize. Forty years ago today, the Prize for 1961 was awarded for the first time to a Secretary-General of the United Nations — posthumously, because Dag Hammarskjöld had already given his life for peace in Central Africa. And on the same day, the Prize for 1960 was awarded for the first time to an African — Albert Luthuli, one of the earliest leaders of the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. For me, as a young African beginning his career in the United Nations a few months later, those two men set a standard that I have sought to follow throughout my working life.
  • In a world filled with weapons of war and all too often words of war, the Nobel Committee has become a vital agent for peace. Sadly, a prize for peace is a rarity in this world. Most nations have monuments or memorials to war, bronze salutations to heroic battles, archways of triumph. But peace has no parade, no pantheon of victory.
    What it does have is the Nobel Prize — a statement of hope and courage with unique resonance and authority.
    Only by understanding and addressing the needs of individuals for peace, for dignity, and for security can we at the United Nations hope to live up to the honour conferred today, and fulfil the vision of our founders. This is the broad mission of peace that United Nations staff members carry out every day in every part of the world.
  • The idea that there is one people in possession of the truth, one answer to the world’s ills, or one solution to humanity’s needs, has done untold harm throughout history — especially in the last century. Today, however, even amidst continuing ethnic conflict around the world, there is a growing understanding that human diversity is both the reality that makes dialogue necessary, and the very basis for that dialogue.
    We understand, as never before, that each of us is fully worthy of the respect and dignity essential to our common humanity. We recognize that we are the products of many cultures, traditions and memories; that mutual respect allows us to study and learn from other cultures; and that we gain strength by combining the foreign with the familiar.
  • In every great faith and tradition one can find the values of tolerance and mutual understanding. The Qur’an, for example, tells us that "We created you from a single pair of male and female and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other." Confucius urged his followers: "when the good way prevails in the state, speak boldly and act boldly. When the state has lost the way, act boldly and speak softly." In the Jewish tradition, the injunction to "love thy neighbour as thyself," is considered to be the very essence of the Torah.
    This thought is reflected in the Christian Gospel, which also teaches us to love our enemies and pray for those who wish to persecute us. Hindus are taught that "truth is one, the sages give it various names." And in the Buddhist tradition, individuals are urged to act with compassion in every facet of life.
    Each of us has the right to take pride in our particular faith or heritage. But the notion that what is ours is necessarily in conflict with what is theirs is both false and dangerous. It has resulted in endless enmity and conflict, leading men to commit the greatest of crimes in the name of a higher power.
    It need not be so.
    People of different religions and cultures live side by side in almost every part of the world, and most of us have overlapping identities which unite us with very different groups. We can love what we are, without hating what — and who — we are not. We can thrive in our own tradition, even as we learn from others, and come to respect their teachings.
  • The lesson of the past century has been that where the dignity of the individual has been trampled or threatened — where citizens have not enjoyed the basic right to choose their government, or the right to change it regularly — conflict has too often followed, with innocent civilians paying the price, in lives cut short and communities destroyed.
    The obstacles to democracy have little to do with culture or religion, and much more to do with the desire of those in power to maintain their position at any cost. This is neither a new phenomenon nor one confined to any particular part of the world.
    People of all cultures value their freedom of choice, and feel the need to have a say in decisions affecting their lives.
  • The United Nations, whose membership comprises almost all the States in the world, is founded on the principle of the equal worth of every human being. It is the nearest thing we have to a representative institution that can address the interests of all states, and all peoples. Through this universal, indispensable instrument of human progress, States can serve the interests of their citizens by recognizing common interests and pursuing them in unity.
  • This era of global challenges leaves no choice but cooperation at the global level. When States undermine the rule of law and violate the rights of their individual citizens, they become a menace not only to their own people, but also to their neighbours, and indeed the world. What we need today is better governance — legitimate, democratic governance that allows each individual to flourish, and each State to thrive.
  • Beneath the surface of states and nations, ideas and language, lies the fate of individual human beings in need. Answering their needs will be the mission of the United Nations in the century to come.

Truman Library address (2006)

Address at the Truman Presidential Museum and Library, Independence, Missouri, USA (11 December 2006)[1]
  • In today’s world, the security of every one of us is linked to that of everyone else.
  • No nation can make itself secure by seeking supremacy over all others. We all share responsibility for each other’s security, and only by working to make each other secure can we hope to achieve lasting security for ourselves.
    — And, I would add that this responsibility is not simply a matter of States being ready to come to each other’s aid when attacked — important though that is. It also includes our shared responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity — a responsibility solemnly accepted by all nations at last year’s UN world summit. That means that respect for national sovereignty can no longer be used as a shield by Governments intent on massacring their own people, or as an excuse for the rest of us to do nothing when heinous crimes are committed.
  • When I look at the murder, rape and starvation to which the people of Darfur are being subjected, I fear that we have not got far beyond “lip service”. The lesson here is that high-sounding doctrines like the “responsibility to protect” will remain pure rhetoric unless and until those with the power to intervene effectively — by exerting political, economic or, in the last resort, military muscle — are prepared to take the lead.
  • I believe we have a responsibility not only to our contemporaries but also to future generations — a responsibility to preserve resources that belong to them as well as to us, and without which none of us can survive. That means we must do much more, and urgently, to prevent or slow down climate change. Everyday that we do nothing, or too little, imposes higher costs on our children and our children’s children. Of course, it reminds me of an African proverb — the earth is not ours but something we hold in trust for future generations. I hope my generation will be worthy of that trust.
  • We are not only all responsible for each other’s security. We are also, in some measure, responsible for each other’s welfare. Global solidarity is both necessary and possible. — It is necessary because without a measure of solidarity no society can be truly stable, and no one’s prosperity truly secure. That applies to national societies — as all the great industrial democracies learned in the twentieth century — but, it also applies to the increasingly integrated global market economy that we live in today. It is not realistic to think that some people can go on deriving great benefits from globalization while billions of their fellow human beings are left in abject poverty, or even thrown into it. We have to give our fellow citizens, not only within each nation but in the global community, at least a chance to share in our prosperity.
  • Both security and development ultimately depend on respect for human rights and the rule of law.
    — Although increasingly interdependent, our world continues to be divided — not only by economic differences, but also by religion and culture. That is not in itself a problem. Throughout history, human life has been enriched by diversity, and different communities have learnt from each other. But, if our different communities are to live together in peace we must stress also what unites us: our common humanity, and our shared belief that human dignity and rights should be protected by law.
  • Human rights and the rule of law are vital to global security and prosperity. As Truman said, “We must, once and for all, prove by our acts conclusively that Right Has Might”. That’s why this country has historically been in the vanguard of the global human rights movement. But that lead can only be maintained if America remains true to its principles, including in the struggle against terrorism. When it appears to abandon its own ideals and objectives, its friends abroad are naturally troubled and confused.
    — And States need to play by the rules towards each other, as well as towards their own citizens. That can sometimes be inconvenient, but ultimately what matters is not inconvenience. It is doing the right thing. No State can make its own actions legitimate in the eyes of others. When power, especially military force, is used, the world will consider it legitimate only when convinced that it is being used for the right purpose -– for broadly shared aims –- in accordance with broadly accepted norms.
    — No community anywhere suffers from too much rule of law; many do suffer from too little — and the international community is among them. This we must change.
  • The US has given the world an example of a democracy in which everyone, including the most powerful, is subject to legal restraint. Its current moment of world supremacy gives it a priceless opportunity to entrench the same principles at the global level.
  • Governments must be accountable for their actions in the international arena, as well as in the domestic one.
    — Today, the actions of one State can often have a decisive effect on the lives of people in other States. So does it not owe some account to those other States and their citizens, as well as to its own? I believe it does.
    — As things stand, accountability between States is highly skewed. Poor and weak countries are easily held to account, because they need foreign assistance. But large and powerful States, whose actions have the greatest impact on others, can be constrained only by their own people, working through their domestic institutions.
    — That gives the people and institutions of such powerful States a special responsibility to take account of global views and interests, as well as national ones. And today they need to take into account also the views of what, in UN jargon, we call “non-State actors”. I mean commercial corporations, charities and pressure groups, labor unions, philanthropic foundations, universities and think tanks -– all the myriad forms in which people come together voluntarily to think about, or try to change, the world.
    — None of these should be allowed to substitute itself for the State, or for the democratic process by which citizens choose their Governments and decide policy. But, they all have the capacity to influence political processes, on the international as well as the national level. States that try to ignore this are hiding their heads in the sand.
  • It is only through multilateral institutions that States can hold each other to account. And that makes it very important to organize those institutions in a fair and democratic way, giving the poor and the weak some influence over the actions of the rich and the strong.
  • I have continued to press for Security Council reform. But, reform involves two separate issues. One is that new members should be added, on a permanent or long-term basis, to give greater representation to parts of the world which have limited voice today. The other, perhaps even more important, is that all Council members, and especially the major powers who are permanent members, must accept the special responsibility that comes with their privilege. The Security Council is not just another stage on which to act out national interests. It is the management committee, if you will, of our fledgling collective security system.
  • My friends, our challenge today is not to save Western civilization — or Eastern, for that matter. All civilization is at stake, and we can save it only if all peoples join together in the task.
    You Americans did so much, in the last century, to build an effective multilateral system, with the United Nations at its heart. Do you need it less today, and does it need you less, than 60 years ago?
    Surely not. More than ever today, Americans, like the rest of humanity, need a functioning global system through which the world’s peoples can face global challenges together. And in order to function more effectively, the system still cries out for far-sighted American leadership, in the Truman tradition.
    I hope and pray that the American leaders of today, and tomorrow, will provide it.

About Kofi Annan

  • We not only have confidence in him, we support him fully. He is in a very difficult job under very difficult circumstances, but we continue to have hope that he is doing his best. We only want his senior management to exhibit the transparency and accountability that he has proscribed for the organization.
  • We in Europe hold Kofi Annan in high esteem and recognise his unstinting efforts in the cause of peace and democracy.
  • We are not suggesting or pushing for the resignation of the secretary-general. We have worked well with him in the past and look forward to working with him for some time in the future.
  • Both Bush as well as Tony Blair are undermining an idea [the United Nations]. Is this because the secretary general of the United Nations [Ghanaian Kofi Annan] is now a black man? They never did that when secretary generals were white.


  1. Annan, Kofi (December 11, 2006). "The Secretary-General: Address at the Truman Presidential Museum & Library" (HTM). United Nations. Retrieved on 2006-12-11.

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Kofi Atta Annan

In office
January 1, 1997 – January 1, 2007
Preceded by Boutros Boutros-Ghali
Succeeded by Ban Ki-moon

Born April 8, 1938
Kumasi, Ghana
Nationality ghanaian
Spouse Titi Alakija (div.)
Nane Maria Annan

Kofi Annan (born April 8 1938 in Ghana) was the Secretary-General of the United Nations. His term began in January 1, 1997 and ended on January 1 2007. He was replaced by Ban Ki-moon.


Early life

Annan was born on April 8, 1938 in Kumasi, Ghana, to an elite family. His parents, Henry Reginald and Victoria Annan, are from the two major ethnic groups that make up the Akan -- one of the groups of indigenous people of Ghana.

His father was half Asante and half Fante; his mother was Fante. The Asante were gold merchants while the Fante tribe were the middlemen in the gold trade between the Asante and the British.

Annan, whose first name means "born on a Friday," also had a twin sister, who died in 1991 from a still yet unknown disease. In Ghanaian culture, twins are considered special and are adored.

Annan probably got his first lessons in politics and diplomacy early on from his family. Both of Annan's grandfathers and his uncle were tribal chiefs. Upon his retirement, Annan's father, who worked as an export manager for the cocoa exporter Lever Brothers, was elected governor of Ghana's Asante province.


In 1954, Annan attended Mfantsipim School, an Methodist boarding school in central Ghana. . The Secretary-General says that the school taught him "that suffering anywhere concerns people everywhere."[1]

Annan went to Macalaster College in St. Paul, Minnesota and graduating in 1961. He was a Sloan Fellow at MIT in 1971-72, getting a master's degree in management.

His work at the United Nations

Annan became Secretary-General of the United Nations in January of 1997, succeeding Boutros Boutros-Ghali of Egypt. Annan was a U.N. veteran who took his first job with the organization in 1962 and worked his way up through various posts including Deputy Director to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (1980-83) and head of the U.N.'s peacekeeping efforts (1995-96). Annan was the first Secretary-General chosen from the ranks of the U.N.'s staff. He is also the first black man to hold the post and the second African (after Boutros-Ghali). In 2001 he and the United Nations were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their ongoing work in global peace and cooperation. His second term began in 2002 and runs through the end of 2006.

Personal life

Annan is married to Nane Annan, a lawyer and artist from Sweden.


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