Former UN Secretary-General and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Kofi Annan has died at the age of 80, his foundation said on Saturday.
Annan, a Ghanaian national, died in hospital in Bern, Switzerland, in the early hours of Saturday, two of his close associates said.
In Geneva, the Kofi Annan Foundation announced his peaceful death with “immense sadness” after a short illness, saying he was surrounded in his last days by his second wife Nane and children Ama, Kojo and Nina.
His first marriage was to Titi Alakija, from 1965 to 1983. After the marriage collapsed, he married Nane Maria Lagergren in 1984.
He is survived by his wife, Nane and three children, Kojo, Ama and Nina.
“In many ways, Kofi Annan was the UN. He rose through the ranks to lead the organization into the new millennium with matchless dignity and determination,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, whom Annan had chosen to head the UN refugee agency, said in a statement.
As head of UN peacekeeping operations, Annan was criticized for the world body’s failure to halt the genocide in Rwanda in the 1990s.
“The UN can be improved, it is not perfect but if it didn’t exist you would have to create it,” he told the BBC’s Hard Talk during an interview for his 80th birthday last April, recorded at the Geneva Graduate Institute where he had studied.
Born 8 April 1938, Annan was a Ghanaian diplomat who served as the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations from January 1997 to December 2006. Annan and the UN were the co-recipients of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize. He was the founder and chairman of the Kofi Annan Foundation, as well as chairman of The Elders, an international organization founded by Nelson Mandela.
Born in Kumasi, Annan went on to study economics at Macalester College, international relations from the Graduate InstituteGenevaand management at MIT. Annan joined the UN in 1962, working for the World Health Organization‘s Geneva office. He went on to work in several capacities at the UN Headquarters including serving as the Under-Secretary-General for peacekeeping between March 1992 and December 1996.
He was appointed as the Secretary-General on 13 December 1996 by the Security Council, and later confirmed by the General Assembly, making him the first office holder to be elected from the UN staff itself. He was re-elected for a second term in 2001, and was succeeded as Secretary-General by Ban Ki-moon on 1 January 2007.
As the Secretary-General, Annan reformed the UN bureaucracy; worked to combat HIV, especially in Africa; and launched the UN Global Compact. He has been criticized for not expanding the Security Council and faced calls for resignation after an investigation into the Oil-for-Food Programme. After leaving the UN, he founded the Kofi Annan Foundation in 2007 to work on international development. In 2012, Annan was the UN–Arab League Joint SpecialRepresentative for Syria, to help find a resolution to the ongoing conflict there.
Annan quit after becoming frustrated with the UN’s lack of progress with regard to conflict resolution.
In September 2016, Annan was appointed to lead a UN commission to investigate the Rohingya crisis.