Busumuru Kofi Annan will remain one of the most decorated diplomats the world has ever seen and one of the best Secretaries-General of the United Nations. As he goes home, we take a look at some of his major achievements.
He was only the second African to rise to the position of Secretary-General of the United Nations, and the first from sub-Saharan Africa. Before him, there was only Boutros Boutros Boutros Ghali of Egypt.
With its numerous development and security challenges, the odds are a bit against Africans when it comes to the top position of the UN. There have been nine Secretary-Generals. One has come from South America, a few from Asia but most from Europe.
But what’s more special about Kofi Annan, he is counted among the best Secretaries General of the UN and spent almost all his life working for the world organization. He was an employee who rose through the ranks to become Secretary General and was the first to be appointed from inside by the UN itself. The UN Security Council recommended and appointed him as Secretary General and the General Assembly later approved him.
Typically, most of the other Secretaries-General of the UN were politicians and diplomats from outside the UN with varying degrees of experience and excellence in politics and international diplomacy. Some held brief roles with the UN before becoming Secretary General but none as longstanding as Kofi Annan.
It will probably be a very long time before another Ghanaian rises to the position of Secretary General of the United Nations.
Nobel Peace Prize
In 2001, the Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize jointly to Kofi Annan and the United Nations. He was Secretary-General at the time so the award was virtually all to him. The award was given to him for reviving the UN, managing its resources more efficiently and working hard to advance human rights, peace and security around the world, and tackling new problems like HIV/AIDS and international terrorism.
Again, it may be a very long time before another Ghanaian receives the Nobel Peace Prize, one of the greatest prizes in the world.
Corporate Social Responsibility
In July 2000, Kofi Annan initiated the Global Compact Campaign that got corporations to be more socially responsible and to manage the human rights, social and environmental consequences of their business activities. Eventually in 2011, the UN Human Rights Council endorsed the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The increased global awareness led to many businesses becoming more conscious about being socially responsible and adopting sound business policies. Many countries also drew guidelines for the social and human rights responsibilities of businesses.
Fight Against HIV/AIDS
Kofi Annan is credited with being a very instrumental figure in the fight against HIV/AIDS. During his tenure, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution identifying HIV/AIDS as a major security threat to the world.
In 2001, world leaders also met for the first time specifically on a health problem (HIV/AIDS) at the UN General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS.
Kenyan Political Crisis
About 1,000 people lost their lives in the 2007 – 2008 Kenyan political and humanitarian crisis which started after President Mwai Kibaki was declared winner of Kenya’s December 2007 elections. There were violent protests against electoral rigging, and ethnic violence by Kenyans loyal to Raila Odinga, with violent protesters being shot in the open by police on live TV.
In what was one of Kenya’s darkest moments, more than 50 women and children were locked up and burned inside a church.
Kofi Annan led a delegation to Kenya to resolve the crisis and bring an end to the violence. After 40 days of negotiations with the two sides, Kofi Annan and the team succeeded at brokering a power sharing agreement that brought an end to the violence.
Peacekeeping Training Centre
The former Secretary-General was also key to the establishment of the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) in Accra started by Ghana’s Ministry of Defence. The institute is one of just three institutions in the West African sub-region recognized as training centres of excellence by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) as well as the African Union and the UN.
Since its establishment in 2004, the centre has provided research in conflict studies, peacekeeping and peace operations and a lot of training to thousands of civilians and security personnel from all around the world, while expanding its training portfolio to keep up with new trends.
Apart from having the respect of the AU and the UN, the institute has also received a lot of support from the United States, Japan, India, the European Union and several European countries.
Kofi Annan is probably the former Secretary-General with the most active decorated post-UN spell. After his tenure as Secretary-General he remained quite an excellent diplomat and an instrumental advocate for Africa’s development. He took up a few roles in the United Nations, serving as special envoy to Syria and attempting to negotiate a ceasefire and leading a commission to investigate the Rohingya crisis in Rakhine State, Myanmar.
Kofi Annan also chaired the Global Commission on Elections, Democracy and Security. He was a member of the board of directors of the United Nations Foundation, Chair of the Africa Progress Panel, founder of both the Global Humanitarian Forum and the Global Commission on Drug Policy which he used in raising awareness and calling for the needed shift in drug policy around the world.