Wednesday, 12 September 2018


There could be no development without peace,
No peace without development and
Neither peace nor development without human rights...
                                                                      Kofi Annan

When Kofi Annan died in August 2018, the outpouring of emotion was overwhelming for a man who broke the record as the very first black African UN Secretary-General. In fact, he was the first UNSG to be 'sourced' from within the organisation! That was indeed a feat for a Ghanaian with modest antecedents! A Kenyan twitter user said this when Annan died: 'Every Kenyan remembers Annan during his peace moves in our country in 2007/2008. Were it not for him, our country would have been brought down to ashes. We celebrate and love you. You have a place not only in Kenyans' hearts, but in the world.'

Annan brokered peace in Kenya in the aftermath of the election where about 600 people were killed. He and his team got former President of Kenya, Mwai Kibaki (who was declared winner in the 2007 polls) to discuss with the Opposition Leader, Raila Odinga. They agreed on a power-sharing formula that ended the bloodshed! Many others have expressed similar positive sentiments about this unassuming Ghanaian global citizen. He was a master Mediator who kept the flag of peace flying around the world. Annan was jointly awarded a Nobel Peace Prize  with the UN in 2001 for his efforts.

Annan realised that in an era of globalisation, a strong partnership with the private sector was required to make progress in many public policy issues. This provided the impetus for advancing the idea of the 'Global Compact', which is aimed at encouraging global corporations to embrace principles relating to the promotion of labour standards, respect for human rights, protection of the environment and combating corruption. In 2000, he said: 'weaving universal values into the fabric of global markets and corporate practices will help advance broad social goals, while securing open markets.

However, his glittering humanitarian credentials are overshadowed by the Rwanda genocide and the UN response to the tragedy under his watch in 1994. About 800,000 people died in the Rwanda genocide! In his defense, Annan blamed a reluctance among battle-worn leaders at the time to send troops to Rwanda. Despite his Rwanda failings, Annan was widely recognised as the one who advanced the African agenda during his tenure at the UN.

Annan successfully led the UN for two consecutive terms of five years. His work with the Mo Ibrahim Foundation (MIF) and the Africa Progress Panel (APP) were exemplary. Annan launched the global campaign for fresh funding for HIV/AIDS in 2001. In fact, he initiated the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), agreed at the UN Millennium Summit in 2000, was yet another initiative to fight poverty, which was the first of the 8 goals. He said AIDS was ten times more deadly than armed conflict in Africa.

Annan described the establishment of the UN Peacekeeping Commission as 'filling the gaping hole' in the institutional framework for post-conflict reconstruction and development. The Commission remains particularly useful to African countries emerging from conflict. He successfully canvassed for 'humanitarian intervention' as a possible alternative to peacekeeping. He bought into the concept of 'sovereignty as responsibility'. The resultant policy was the legitimisation of the 'Responsibility to Protect (R2P)' This was further reinforced by Article 4 of the Constitutive Act of the AU.

During his tenure, Annan produced a landmark report on the 'Causes of Conflict and the Promotion of Durable Peace and Sustainable Development in Africa'. He oversaw the massive peace-keeping deployment in response to rising conflicts in Africa, with about 50% (7 of 15) of UN Peacekeeping operations and aboutv 80% of UN personnel (69,238 of 87,764) deployed to Africa at the end of his tenure in 2006.

The current UNSG, Antonio Guterres said: 'Kofi Annan was a guiding force for good...' On balance, Annan was an exceptional and extraordinary UNSG. He lived a life of service to Africa and indeed the world! 

Related Links

*'Our shared humanity': The legacy of Kofi Annan
*Personal tribute to Kofi Annan by the AU Commission Deputy Chairman, H.E. Kofi Attah Annan-Busumuru>pressrelease>personal-tribute-kofi-annan-au-commission...
*Kofi Annan: Tribute to a rare gentleman>magazine>december-2018-march-2019

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