Kofi Annan

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Kofi Annan bigraphy, stories - United Nations Secretary-General

Kofi Annan : biography

8 April 1938 – living

Kofi Atta Annan ( born 8 April 1938) is a Ghanaian diplomat who served as the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations, from 1 January 1997 to 31 December 2006. Annan and the United Nations were the co-recipients of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize for his founding of the Global AIDS and Health Fund to support developing countries in their struggle to care for their people.

From 23 February until 31 August 2012, Annan was the UN–Arab League Joint Special Representative for Syria, to help find a resolution to ongoing conflict there. Annan quit after becoming frustrated with the UN’s lack of progress with regard to conflict resolution, stating that "when the Syrian people desperately need action, there continues to be finger-pointing and name-calling in the Security Council."

Recommendations for UN reform

Soon after taking office in 1997, Annan released two reports on management reform. On 17 March 1997, the report ‘Management and Organisational Measures’ (A/51/829) introduced new management mechanisms through the establishment of a cabinet-style body to assist him and be grouping the UN’s activities in accordance with four core missions. A comprehensive reform agenda was issued on 14 July 1997 entitled ‘Renewing the United Nations: A Programme for Reform’ (A/51/950). Key proposals included the introduction of strategic management to strengthen unity of purpose, the establishment of the position of Deputy Secretary-General, a 10-percent reduction in posts, a reduction in administrative costs, the consolidation of the UN at the country level, and reaching out to civil society and the private sector as partners. Annan also proposed to hold a Millennium Summit in 2000. After years of research, Annan presented a progress report, In Larger Freedom, to the UN General Assembly, on 21 March 2005. Annan recommended Security Council expansion and a host of other UN reforms.

On 31 January 2006, Kofi Annan outlined his vision for a comprehensive and extensive reform of the UN in a policy speech to the United Nations Association UK. The speech, delivered at Central Hall, Westminster, also marked the 60th Anniversary of the first meetings of the UN General Assembly and UN Security Council.

On 7 March 2006, he presented to the General Assembly his proposals for a fundamental overhaul of the United Nations Secretariat. The reform report is entitled: "Investing in the United Nations, For a Stronger Organization Worldwide".

On 30 March 2006, he presented to the General Assembly his analysis and recommendations for updating the entire work programme of the United Nations Secretariat over the last 60 years. The report is entitled: "Mandating and Delivering: Analysis and Recommendations to Facilitate the Review of Mandates".

Regarding the UN Human Rights Council, Annan has said "declining credibility" had "cast a shadow on the reputation of the United Nations system. Unless we re-make our human rights machinery, we may be unable to renew public confidence in the United Nations itself." However, he does believe that, despite its flaws, the council can do good.

Early career

In 1962, Kofi Annan started working as a Budget Officer for the World Health Organization, an agency of the United Nations (UN). From 1974 to 1976, he worked as the Director of Tourism in Ghana. In the late 1980s, Annan returned to work for the UN, where he was appointed as an Assistant Secretary-General in three consecutive positions: Human Resources, Management and Security Coordinator (1987–1990); Program Planning, Budget and Finance, and Controller (1990–1992); and Peacekeeping Operations (March 1993 – December 1996).

The Rwandan Genocide took place in 1994 while Annan directed UN Peacekeeping Operations. In 2003 Canadian ex-General Roméo Dallaire, who was force commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda, claimed that Annan was overly passive in his response to the imminent genocide. In his book Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda (2003), General Dallaire asserted that Annan held back UN troops from intervening to settle the conflict, and from providing more logistical and material support. Dallaire claimed that Annan failed to provide responses to his repeated faxes asking for access to a weapons depository; such weapons could have helped Dallaire defend the endangered Tutsis. In 2004, ten years after the genocide in which an estimated 800,000 people were killed, Annan said, "I could and should have done more to sound the alarm and rally support."