Remembering Kofi Annan

Kofi Annan, born in Ghana in 1938, died this summer on August 18, 2018.

Annan's family set him up for success at an early age. His father, Henry Annan, was governor of the Asante Province in Ghana and a former manager of the Lever Brothers Cocoa Company. Annan attended an elite all-boys secondary school in Cape Coast, Ghana1.

In 1962, Annan joined the United Nations, and was still active as of 2016. A quote of his that stands out, “Suffering anywhere concerns people everywhere”, is the epitome of his legacy3. Annan served as Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1997-2006, and worked otherwise for the United Nations for more than 40 years. Notable accomplishments include kickstarting the reorganization of the United Nations and creation of two committees of the United Nations4.

Annan’s public service accomplishments but are not limited to, the following: becoming the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria in the midst of the hostilities in the country, beginning in early 2011; chairing an Advisory Commission founded in 2016 by Myanmar, the goal of which was to help the Rohingya people and others in Rakhine state to recover and improve their lives; and using his Secretary-General position to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic and push counterterrorism measures5.

Annan founded the Peacebuilding Commission during the 60th session of the United Nations General Assembly. The Commission includes 31 members, as well as four official partner organizations including the European Union and the World Bank. The United Nations praised the Commission’s ability to link several organizations inside and outside of the United Nations6.

Annan’s work was also found in the Human Rights Council, established in March of 2006. Human Rights Council is comprised of 47 member states, with the mission to preserve and strengthen human rights internationally7. Resolutions and agendas relate to, but are not limited to the following topics: human rights as it relates to the environment; and promoting human rights through the Olympic competition and sports as a whole 8.

Annan was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in conjunction with the United Nations in 2001. Recently, Antonio Guterres, the current Secretary-General of the United Nations, remarked upon Annan’s life and legacy: “He provided people everywhere with … a path to a better world.”5