Kofi Annan, the first black African to serve as United Nations Secretary General, died August 18 at hospital in Bern, Switzerland, following a brief undisclosed illness, the Kofi Annan Foundation reported.
Mr. Annan, who was 80, was surrounded by his wife, Nane, and their children, Ama, Kojo and Nina, at the time of his death. He lived in Geneva, Switzerland.
Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary General, hailed Annan as “a guiding force for good” and a “proud son of Africa who became a global champion for peace and humanity.”
Annan served as UN Secretary General for two five-year terms beginning in January 1997, after rising through the organization’s ranks.
He was born in Kamasi, Ghana, on April 8, 1938. He joined the UN system in 1962 as an administrative and budget officer with the World Health Organization in Geneva. He was promoted to senior-level posts in budget, finance and peacekeeping.
Mr. Annan held UN posts in Ethiopia, Egypt, the former Yugoslavia and at UN headquarters in New York.
In 1997, he was appointed UN Secretary General. His first major initiative was a plan for UN reform, which was presented by the member states in July 1997.
In that post, his office advocated for human rights, the rule of law, development and Africa. He also galvanized global action to fight HIV/AIDS and terrorism.
For his work, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001.
In his 2006 farewell statement to the UN General Assembly, Annan said his job was difficult and challenging yet thrilling and rewarding at times.
Annan later worked as UN Special Envoy for Syria in the wake of the conflict that began in March 2011. He also chaired an Advisory Commission in Myanmar in 2016 to improve the welfare of all people in Rakhine state, home of the Rohingya community.
In Ghana, he established an international peacekeeping training center in 2004. The center is named in his honor.