Kofi An­nan, the only black African to be­come UN sec­re­tary-gen­eral, dies.

Zambian Business Times - - POLITICS -

The 80-year-old "passed away peace­fully on Satur­day 18 Au­gust, after a short ill­ness", the foun­da­tion named after him said.

His home coun­try, Ghana, has de­clared a week of na­tional mourn­ing. An­nan served two terms as UN chief from 1997 to 2006, and was awarded a No­bel Peace Prize for his hu­man­i­tar­ian work.

He later served as the UN spe­cial en­voy for Syria, lead­ing ef­forts to find a so­lu­tion to the con­flict.

In a state­ment an­nounc­ing his death, the Kofi An­nan Foun­da­tion

de­scribed him as a "global states­man and deeply com­mit­ted in­ter­na­tion­al­ist who fought through­out his life for a fairer and more peace­ful world". "Wher­ever there was suf­fer­ing or need, he reached out and touched many peo­ple with his deep com­pas­sion and em­pa­thy."

The ca­reer diplo­mat died in hospi­tal in the Swiss city of Bern. He had been liv­ing near Geneva for sev­eral years. He was awarded the No­bel Peace Prize in 2001 for help­ing to re­vi­talise the in­ter­na­tional body, dur­ing a pe­riod that co­in­cided with the Iraq War and the HIV/Aids pan­demic.

Kofi An­nan de­scribed his great­est achieve­ment as the Mil­len­nium De­vel­op­ment Goals which - for the first time - set global tar­gets on is­sues such as poverty and child mor­tal­ity.

How­ever, An­nan was not im­mune from crit­i­cism. His crit­ics blamed him for the UN's fail­ure to halt the geno­cide in Rwanda in the 1990s when he was head of the or­gan­i­sa­tion's peace­keep­ing oper­a­tions.

Later, after the US-led in­va­sion of Iraq, he and his son were ac­cused of be­ing in­volved in the "oil for food cor­rup­tion scan­dal" that led some to call for his res­ig­na­tion, though he was later ex­on­er­ated.

In an in­ter­view with the BBC's Hard Talk to mark his 80th birth­day in April, An­nan ac­knowl­edged the UN's short­com­ings, say­ing it "can be im­proved, it is not per­fect but if it didn't ex­ist you would have to cre­ate it".

"I am a stub­born op­ti­mist, I was born an op­ti­mist and will re­main an op­ti­mist," he added.

Kofi An­nan will be re­mem­bered for the way he drew at­ten­tion, over and over again, to the plight of those caught up in war, en­vi­ron­men­tal dis­as­ter, or sim­ply grind­ing poverty.

The way he qui­etly but firmly re­minded world lead­ers, how­ever pow­er­ful, that they needed to put their duty to their cit­i­zens above their po­lit­i­cal ca­reers.

Cur­rent UN chief An­to­nio Guter­res has been lead­ing the trib­utes to his pre­de­ces­sor, de­scrib­ing An­nan as "a guid­ing force for good".

"In many ways, Kofi An­nan was the United Na­tions. He rose through the ranks to lead the or­gan­i­sa­tion into the new mil­len­nium with match­less dig­nity and de­ter­mi­na­tion," he said in a state­ment.

UN high com­mis­sioner for hu­man rights Zeid Raad Al Hus­sein said in a tweet he was grief-stricken over An­nan's death. Source: BBC

For­mer United Na­tions Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Koffi An­nan

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