Kofi Annan was a Ghanaian diplomat and charismatic symbol of the United Nations. The Ghanaian top diplomat was the seventh Secretary-General and served for two terms between 1997 and 2006. He was awarded the Nobel peace prize for his humanitarian work jointly with the UN as an organization in 2001.
Kofi Annan will be remembered as the man who pushed for reform to rebuild the United Nations and make it more effective. He brought the United Nations to the 21st century, leading concerted efforts against poverty, diseases, as well as peacekeeping efforts. Annan embodied the ideals of global development community and was constantly seeking greater stability and prosperity for the world and the best of humanity.
The now vibrant field of business and human rights looms large among Kofi’s many legacies. Perhaps it came to him naturally. The dignity of every person was integral to the family values with which he was raised. And human rights were inextricably bound up in the struggle for independence, which Ghana achieved in 1957 when he was in his late teens.
Shortly after Kofi took office as the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations, he smiled and said “ I don’t get swallowed up by the cable traffic.” Eventually that function became formalized on the UN organizational chart as Assistant Secretary-General for Strategic Planning. As Secretary-General, Kofi lived the African proverb “you cannot bend the wind so bend the sail.” To bureaucrats who were skeptical of new ideas and innovative approaches, his response invariably was: “Why don’t we test it? You may be surprised. Let’s test it.”
Kofi Annan was the least ego-driven leader ever recorded in history. Kofi had the ability to inspire those of us who worked closely with him to achieve things they never thought they could. Sadly he passed away peacefully on Saturday 18th August 2018 in Bern, Switzerland. He was 80 years old. Annan passed away after a short illness. But his inspiration lives on—as do the many legacies he bequeathed to us all.
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