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Kofi Annan

Kofi Atta Annan was the seventh United Nations Secretary-general. He served for two terms as a secretary general of which he was the first to be elected from the ranks of the UN staff. His first term began on 1st January 1997 and the second term began in January 1st 2002. Kofi Annan, as mostly known, gave a priority in revitalizing UN through different comprehensive reforms program. He strengthened the organization’s tradition of maintaining global peace programs as well as advocating for human rights.

He is the most remembered figure in the global peace missions in the world as he has participated as chief mediator in some countries on trying to restore peace especially in Africa. Early life Kofi Atta Annan was born to Victoria and Henry Reginald on April 8th in 1938. He was born in Kumasi central in the republic of Ghana in West Africa. His name indicates the place in his family as well as his birthday. According to his community culture, Kofi means a baby boy born on Friday while Annan means a forth born in the family.

Annan’s both sides family were tribal chiefs and that qualified him to be among the country’s elite. His father, Mr. Reginald, was a well educated person and he worked for a long time for Lever Brothers cocoa company as an export manager. This made Annan to become more accustomed to both the modern and the traditional way of living. Annan received his early education in a leading boarding school in the country. He attended Mfantsipim School, it was a Methodist boarding school located in Cape Coast. Annan graduated in 1957 from the same elite school.

The same year Ghana got independence from European colonist making it the first country in Africa to gain independence. Ghana became a republic within British common wealth in 1960. Annan joined Kumasi college of Science and Technology in 1958 where he studied a bachelor degree in economics. The college’s name was later changed and is currently known as Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology of Ghana. In 1961, Annan received a Ford Foundation grant that enabled him to transfer to join Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota in the United States to complete his bachelor degree.

He then did a degree in International Relation at the Graduate institute of International Studies (Institut Universitaire des hautes etudes internationales) in Geneva, Switzerland. He later joined MIT Sloan School of Management and received a Masters of Science degree in Management. He has so far a good command over French, English, Akan, Kru and most of other African dialects. Marriage Kofi Atta Annan is married to Nane Annan from Sweden. His wife is a lawyer and painter. She has great interest in understanding the roles of the UN. The most two concerns to her is on the HIV/AIDS and the women education.

Nane has written a book for children to enlighten them about the UN. They have three children. Annan’s early career Annan worked as a budget officer for the World Health Organizations in 1962, WHO is a UN agency. He also worked as director of tourism between 1976 and 1976 in Ghana. After working in Ghana for two years, he then returned to work for the UN between 1987 and 1990 as a deputy Secretary-General. He served in Human Resources, in Management and as a Security Controller. From 1990 to 1992, he worked in Program Planning, Finance controller.

Annan also worked in Peace keeping mission in the same organization between 1993 and 1994. Annan’s chain of events continues to 1994 Rwandan Genocide when he was leading peacekeeping operations. According to the book Shake hands with the devil, Dallaire Romeo, who was the force commander in the UN assistance mission for Rwanda blamed Kofi Annan for being an overly passive in regard to his response to the Rwandan genocide. It was claimed by Romeo that he did not respond to the faxes that were being sent to him to ask for his permission to have an access to weapons which could have been used to protect Tutsis.

Romeo also concedes that Kofi Annan was a man who was completely committed to following the strict founding principles of the UN. (United Nations, 1996) Kofi Annan served a deputy Secretary-General till October 1995; he was made a Special representative to the former Yugoslavia, he served for five months and was then returned to his duties as a deputy secretary general in April 1996. Before he became the UN secretary General, Annan had several other assignments. He greatly facilitated the repatriation of western countries citizens from Iraq after invading Kuwait.

He then led the talks with Baghdad on the sales of fuel to fund the purchase of humanitarian relief. He used his office powers to gain Iraq’s compliance with the resolutions of the Security Council. He also participated in transition to civilian rule in Nigeria. Annan also helped in resolving the conflict between Libya and the Security Council as well as forging an international response to the violence in East Timor. Since then, he has continued with the negotiations of Israel to solve their differences with Palestinians through complying with the Security Council resolutions. (Traub, 2006) Becoming UN Secretary-General

On December 13 1996, Kofi Annan was asked by the UN Security Council (UNSC) to replace the former Secretary General Mr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali of Egypt. His first tenure as a secretary general commenced on 1st January 1997. During this time, he worked tirelessly in resolving several disputes between the countries including ending of brutal attacks between Israel and Hezbollah and the dispute between Nigeria and Cameroon over the Bakassi Peninsula through placing the international court judgments. He strengthened the partnerships between the civil societies, private sectors and the governments who comply with the UN policies.

He has called for global compact and has continually encouraged businesses to respect the standards of the UN in regard to the environment, employment law and human rights. (Lefevere, 1998) In 2000, he issued a statement on the missions and the works of the UN in the 21st century outlining on what actions that need to be taken to end poverty and inequality between people. He also emphasized on how to tackle the issues that relate education, reduce the HIV/AIDS infections, environmental conservation and human protection against violence. This formed a base of Millennium Declarations by all leaders who attended the summit in that September.

He called the HIV/AIDS an epidemic and called for actions through establishing global AIDS and Health Funds. This attracted $1. 5 billion contributions and pledges. Since the 9/11 2001 terrorist attack to the United States, the secretary general has emphasized on the global action the Security Council and the general assembly to fight and combat terrorism. He has however received honorary degrees from various universities in Africa, Europe, America and Asia and other awards and prizes to honor him for his contributions to the aims and goals of the UN.

Annan’s tenure was renewed on January 2002. During an interview to a private radio channel, Annan said that the UN had urged the UK and the US not to invade Iraq without the support of the UN. In this regard, according to the UN, the Iraq invasion by the US and the UK was completely illegal. In Darfur crisis, Kofi Annan sent the UN peace keeping forces and replaced the African Union peace keeping mission. During this time he advocated for the building of two intergovernmental bodies that included the peace building mission and human rights council.

He tabled a report on March 25th in 2005 on the progress that the UN had achieved. He stressed the need to expand the Security Council. Post UN term Even after the retirement from the UN in 2006, Kofi Annan has been closely in touch with major global organizations that seek to establish long lasting peace and democracy in the war torn countries. He was elected to lead the formation of Alliance for Green revolution in Africa (AGRA) and he was then appointed the president of the Global Humanitarian Forum in Geneva.

He currently serves on the BoD in the United Nations Foundation. This is a public charity that was created in 1998 to support the UN causes. The charity received a $ 1 billion from entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Tuner. Kofi is current chancellor of the University of Ghana. (General News, 2008) Reference: General News, (2008)”Kofi Annan appointed Chancellor of University of Ghana” General News of Wednesday, 30 July 2008 retrieved from http://www. ghanaweb. com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel. php? ID=147650. on 13th April 2009

Lefevere, P. (1998). “Annan: `Peace is never a perfect achievement’ – United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan”. National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved from http://findarticles. com/p/articles/mi_m1141/is_7_35/ai_53460476 on 13th April 2009 Traub, J. (2006). The Best Intentions. New York: Farrar United Nations (1996). GA/9208 – General Assembly appoints Kofi Annan of Ghana as seventh Secretary-General. Press release. Retrieved from http://www. un. org/News/Press/docs/1996/19961217. ga9208. html. Retrieved on 13th April 2009.

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