Kofi Annan, the seventh UN Secretary General and Nobel Peace Laureate, passed away on Saturday morning following a brief illness. “His wife Nane and their children Ama, Kojo and Nina were by his side during the last days,Annan was the first African to serve as head of the United Nations, holding the prestigious position from 1997 to 2006. He was lauded for his global humanitarian work, eventually earning Annan and the UN a Nobel Peace Prize in 2001 for “their work for a better organized and more peaceful world.”
Annan was head of the UN during the onslaught of the Iraq War, proving to be one of the most challenging global events to occur under his time as Secretary General and one of the most divisive of the early 21st century. “I think the worst moment of course was the Iraq war, which as an organization we couldn’t stop—and I really did everything I can to try to see if we can stop it,” he said in 2006.
Annan was also the founder of the Kofi Annan foundation and chairman of The Elders, an international humanitarian organization of global leaders founded by Nelson Mandela.
Born in Kumasi, Ghana in 1938, Annan dedicated his life and career to diplomacy and human rights. He began his career at the UN in 1962 working with the World Health Organization in Geneva before rising to it’s top ranks 35 years later and becoming a figure known and celebrated for his efforts towards achieving world peace.
Ghana’s president Nana Akufo-Addo has ordered the country’s flag be flown “half-mast across the country and in all of Ghana’s diplomatic missions across the world” for a week in Annan’s honor.
Tributes from fellow world leaders and supporters have poured out in honor of Annan and his enduring legacy.