Kofi Annan, one of the world’s most celebrated diplomats and a charismatic symbol of the United Nations who rose through its ranks to become the first black African secretary general, has died. He was 80.
His foundation announced his death in a tweet on Saturday, saying that he died after a short unspecified illness.
Annan spent virtually his entire career as an administrator in the United Nations. He served two terms as secretary general from Jan. 1, 1997 to Dec. 31, 2006, capped nearly mid-way when he and the UN were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001.
The UN high commissioner for human rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein issued a statement saying Annan was “the epitome of human decency and grace.”
“In a world now filled with leaders who are anything but that, our loss, the world’s loss, becomes even more painful,” he said.
“International leader, wise mentor, valuable adviser, good friend, role model,” was how UN refugee chief Filippo Grandi described Annan. “We at UNHCR, and millions of others around the world, will miss him very much.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Twitter that Annan’s “warmth should never be mistaken for weakness. The UN and the world have lost one of their giants.”
“Kofi Annan lived well and worked for global peace, security and sustainable development in very challenging times. A proud son of Ghana and Africa,” said Ghana’s former president John Dramani Mahama.
“He was a good friend whom I saw only weeks ago,” said Britain’s former prime minister Tony Blair.
During his tenure, Annan presided over some of the worst failures and scandals at the world body, one of its most turbulent periods since its founding in 1945.
He became the UN-Arab League special envoy for Syria in February 2012, accepting what he called the “daunting challenge” of trying to negotiate peace. He resigned later that year, frustrated over the lack of progress in ending the violence.
The focus of some of Kofi Annan’s last statements was Zimbabwe, which the Nobel Peace Prize winner visited last month while urging a peaceful election.
While the vote was calm, Annan denounced the violence that erupted in the capital two days later as the military swept into the streets to disperse opposition protesters.
Source: Credit CBC News