Kofi Annan, the former UN chief and the only black African to become the secretary general of the United Nations died, at the age of 80.
Kofi Atta Annan was a Ghanaian diplomat who served as the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations, from January 1997 to December 2006.
Annan was co-recipient 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 Institute Geneva and Management at MIT. Annan joined the UN in 1962, working for the World Health Organization's Geneva office.
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 officeholder to be elected from the UN staff itself. He was re-elected for a second term in 2001 and was succeeded by Ban Ki-moon on 1 January 2007.
Annan died in hospital in the Swiss city of Bern. His home country, Ghana, has declared a week of national mourning.
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".
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 to 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 Organization'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.
Current UN chief Antonio Guterres has been leading the tributes to his predecessor, describing Annan as "a guiding force for good". NATO leader Jens Stoltenberg tweeted that the world had lost one of its giants. "Annan showed that one can be a great humanitarian and a strong leader at the same time." Carl Bildt, co-chairman of the European Council on Foreign Relations and former Swedish Prime Minister, described Annan as "a man of courage, wisdom and friendship" and urged people to read his 2001 Nobel Peace Prize lecture.
Russian President Vladimir Putin praised Annan's efforts to build the United Nations' peacekeeping potential in a telegram to Guterres, cited by Russian state news agency TASS. "I was lucky to personally interact with Kofi Annan. I have been in genuine awe of his wisdom and courage, of his ability to make informed decisions even in the most difficult, critical situations," Putin said.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said he was extremely saddened by the loss of an "unwavering champion for peace, justice and rule of law" and a "dear old friend." Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the world had lost "not only a great African diplomat and humanitarian but also a conscience keeper of international peace and security."
Our assessment is that the most important legacy as secretary general was Annan’s rejection of the long-standing notion that the U.N. could not interfere in the internal affairs of a member country. We believe that his farewell address to world leaders at the UN headquarters in New York was pertinent, as he clearly articulated the challenges of the world – an unjust world economy, world disorder and widespread contempt for human rights and the rule of law.