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Passing of former Secretary-General Kofi Annan

18 August 2018

Statement by the Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres

Kofi Annan was a guiding force for good. It is with profound sadness that I learned of his passing. In many ways, Kofi Annan was the United Nations. He rose through the ranks to lead the organization into the new millennium with matchless dignity and determination.

Like so many, I was proud to call Kofi Annan a good friend and mentor. I was deeply honoured by his trust in selecting me to serve as UN High Commissioner for Refugees under his leadership. He remained someone I could always turn to for counsel and wisdom — and I know I was not alone. He provided people everywhere with a space for dialogue, a place for problem-solving and a path to a better world. In these turbulent and trying times, he never stopped working to give life to the values of the United Nations Charter. His legacy will remain a true inspiration for all of us.

My heartfelt condolences to Nane Annan, their beloved family, and all who mourn the loss of this proud son of Africa who became a global champion for peace and all humanity.

Statement by the Director-General (UNOG), Michael Møller

Today is a sad day for the world.

Humanity lost its strong moral voice, and I lost my mentor, my role model and great friend.

Kofi Annan was an extraordinary political leader but his major legacy is his humanity. It infused everything he did, every decision he made, and helped him restore the trust and enthousiasm in our great organization. He was an exceptional human being, with an amazing balance, infallible political instinct and ever present compassion, always caring for others, particularly the less fortunate of us.

His legacy is endless: from making sure that HIV/AIDS patients could get affordable medicines, to mainstreaming human rights in everything we are doing, from developing the responsibility to protect to promoting the Millennium Developments Goals, to name only a few. He reshaped the United Nations, scaling up our ability to help where it was most needed. He was also a dedicated son of Africa, who cared and did a lot for his continent.

My heartfelt thoughts go to his wife Nane and children, to his colleagues at the Kofi Annan Foundation and to the whole United Nations family. We will all deeply miss him!

Rest in peace dear Kofi, and thank you for your extraordinary contribution to humanity.

Geneva, 18 August 2018

Statement by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein

“I am grief-stricken over the death of Kofi Annan. Kofi was humanity’s best example, the epitome, of human decency and grace. In a world now filled with leaders who are anything but that, our loss, the world’s loss becomes even more painful.

He was a friend to thousands and a leader of millions. To me — like to so many in the UN, he was my immediate boss when I was thirty-one years of age — and what a boss! He was always courageous, direct in speech, but never discourteous — never discourteous. Later, when I was an ambassador at the UN he inspired us, by being a dynamic and charismatic leader in his capacity as Secretary-General. And most of all, he was a friend and counsel — to me and to so many others. Whenever — as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, I felt isolated and alone politically (which, in the last four years, was often) I would go for long walks with him around Geneva — and listen.

When I told him once how everyone was grumbling about me, he looked at me — like a father would look at a son — and said sternly: “you’re doing the right thing, let them grumble.” Then he grinned!

There are some human beings who will seem irreplaceable to us, rare human beings. Kofi Annan is high among them.

Goodbye my dear friend ... goodbye Kofi.”

Statement by UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi

It is with great sadness that I have learned the news today of the passing of Kofi Annan, one of the world’s leading international statesmen and a much cherished former UN Secretary-General.

Annan was a friend to us all at UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. Since the 1980s, when he worked at UNHCR here in Geneva, until his last years, he remained an enduring voice on behalf of refugees and all who are oppressed.

In him, the millions worldwide forced to flee wars and persecution had a constant champion at the highest international levels.

My thoughts and prayers today are with Kofi and with his family. The world has lost a great man. And I have lost a good friend, a mentor, a role model and a valuable advisor. His legacy will set the highest moral standard for all people who work to make our world more peaceful and humane.

Statement by H.E. Mr. Miroslav Lajčák, President of the 72nd Session of the General Assembly

I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of former Secretary-General Kofi Annan, one of the world’s most respected diplomats, an extraordinary statesman, and a visionary champion for multilateralism. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate was a strong believer in dialogue and deeply committed defender of peace, development and human rights.

He dedicated his life to making the world a better, more peaceful, and just place for all people.And in many ways, he is a symbol for the shared values of the United Nations.

Like so many among us, I considered Kofi Annan a role model and a mentor. During my time with the Secretary-General´s Special Envoys for the Balkans, Eduard Kukan and Carl Bildt, I had the honour to work closely with him. Since then, I admire his wise and steadfast leadership, acumen and charisma.

I would like to express my sincere condolences to his family and friends, the people of Ghana and Africa, and all who mourn the loss of this remarkable man. Let us continue to be inspired by his lifelong example.

New York, 18 August 2018

The Elders mourn the loss of Kofi Annan

London, 18 August 2018

The Elders are shocked and deeply saddened at the passing of their dear friend and colleague Kofi Annan, who was the globally admired and respected Chair of The Elders.

A founding member of The Elders, Kofi Annan succeeded Archbishop Desmond Tutu as Chair in May 2013. He played a vital role in leading The Elders’ work, and was a voice of great authority and wisdom in public and private, most recently on visits to South Africa and Zimbabwe in July 2018.

As the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1997 to 2006, he was a constant advocate for human rights, development and the rule of law. The first Secretary-General to reach the post from within an organisation he served for over 40 years, Kofi Annan had a lifelong commitment to the cause of peace and was known for his staunch opposition to military aggression, notably the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The great respect for him and his essential work was illustrated when he, together with the United Nations as a whole, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001.

Gro Harlem Brundtland, Deputy Chair of The Elders, said:

“We are devastated at the loss of our dear friend and fellow Elder. Kofi was a strong and inspiring presence to us all, and The Elders would not be where it is today without his leadership. Throughout his life, Kofi worked unceasingly to improve the lives of millions of people around the world. While we mourn his passing today, we resolve as Elders to continue to uphold his values and legacy into the future”.

In retirement, Kofi Annan continued where he had left off at the United Nations, founding and leading the work of the Kofi Annan Foundation, based in Geneva, and maintaining a hectic international schedule. His quiet advice on how best to defuse impending crises was in constant demand from all corners of the globe, in particular from Africa.

All of the Elders and their Advisory Council and staff team members send their heartfelt condolences to Kofi’s family: his wife Nane, his children and grandchildren. They have lost a devoted husband, father and grandfather.

The world has lost an inspiring figure – but one whose achievements will never be forgotten, and whose commitment to peace and justice will endure to inspire future generations.

About The Elders

The Elders are independent leaders using their collective experience and influence for peace, justice and human rights worldwide. The group was founded by Nelson Mandela in 2007.

The Elders are Martti Ahtisaari, Kofi Annan (Chair), Ban Ki-moon, Lakhdar Brahimi, Gro Harlem Brundtland (Deputy Chair), Hina Jilani, Ricardo Lagos, Graça Machel, Mary Robinson and Ernesto Zedillo.
Ela Bhatt, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Jimmy Carter and Desmond Tutu are Elders Emeritus.

Statement by the Family and the Kofi Annan Foundation

Kofi Annan's official biography

For use of the information media; not an official record