The Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD) was deeply saddened to hear of the death of H.E. Kofi Annan, on 18 August 2018, and would like to pay tribute to the man of peace and dialogue, the world leader, and the role model he was for so many in the peacemaking community.
An international Ghanaian diplomat, Mr Annan dedicated 40 years of his career to the United Nations (UN), becoming the first black African to be appointed UN Secretary-General in 1997, a position he held for two terms until 2006.
He headed the international body through the troubled period of the Iraq war and the HIV pandemic, and led it into the new millennium, reforming the UN bureaucracy and making the organisation more prominent on the international scene.
He was honoured for his contribution in 2001, when he received the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with the United Nations, in recognition of “their work for a better organised and more peaceful world”.
Mr Annan later founded and chaired the Kofi Annan Foundation that works to promote a better global governance and strengthen people’s and countries’ capacities to achieve a fairer, more peaceful world.
He was also a member and the Chair of the Elders, a group of public figures including statesmen, peace activists and human rights advocates, created by Nelson Mandela to promote peace and human rights.
Mr Annan was a skilled and effective mediator. He was involved in many peacemaking endeavours, leading the Panel of Eminent African Personalities to resolve the post-election crisis in Kenya in 2008, heading the UN-Arab League joint efforts to address the Syrian conflict in 2012, and more recently, investigating the Rohingya crisis in 2016 and framing a set of internationally applauded recommendations.
Many of us at HD were fortunate to work closely with Mr Annan, both in the UN and in his many roles as a peacemaker in the last decade.
He will be remembered as a stubborn optimist and tireless in his efforts to secure peace. In Kenya, where he mediated the agreement to end the post-election violence in 2007-8, he was fondly referred to as a “dictator” by the parties in the talks as he pushed and pushed them towards an agreement.
He referred to himself as a “prisoner of peace” through this process, as he would not leave until a viable agreement had been reached.
Always a friend of HD, he will be remembered by all as an outstanding peacemaker and a man of great humanity.
“Peace must be sought, above all, because it is the condition for every member of the human family to live a life of dignity and security.” Kofi Annan, December 2001.