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Kofi Annan

Ghanaian diplomat and Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Kofi Annan served as the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations, from January 1997 to December 2006. Annan and the UN were the co-recipients of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize. He was the founder and chairman of the Kofi Annan Foundation, as well as chairman of The Elders, an international organization founded by Nelson Mandela.

As the Secretary-General, Annan reformed the UN bureaucracy; worked to combat HIV, especially in Africa; and launched the UN Global Compact. After the end of his term as UN Secretary-General, he founded the Kofi Annan Foundation in 2007 to work on international development. In 2012, Annan was the UN–Arab League Joint Special Representative for Syria, to help find a resolution to the ongoing conflict there. Annan quit after becoming frustrated with the UN's lack of progress with regard to conflict resolution. In September 2016, Annan was appointed to lead a UN commission to investigate the Rohingya crisis.

Following the failure of Annan and the International Community to intervene in the genocide in Rwanda and in Srebrenica, Annan asked whether the international community had an obligation in such situations to intervene to protect civilian populations. In a speech to the General Assembly on 20 September 1999 ‘to address the prospects for human security and intervention in the next century,’ Annan argued that individual sovereignty—the protections afforded by the Declaration of Human Rights and the Charter of the UN—was being strengthened, while the notion of state sovereignty was being redefined by globalization and international co-operation. As a result, the UN and its member states had to consider a willingness to act to prevent conflict and civilian suffering, a dilemma between ‘two concepts of sovereignty’.

In September 2001 the Canadian government established an ad-hoc committee to address this balance between state sovereignty and humanitarian intervention. The International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty published its final report in 2001, which focused on not on the right of states to intervene but a responsibility to protect populations at risk. Mohamed Sahnoun was one of the members of this commission, and Annan came to the IofC centre in Caux several times at Sahnoun’s invitation. The report moved beyond the question of military intervention, arguing that a range of diplomatic and humanitarian actions could also be utilized to protect civilian populations.

In 2005, Annan included the doctrine of ‘Responsibility to Protect’ in his report Larger Freedom. When that report was endorsed by the UN General Assembly, it amounted to the first formal endorsement by UN Member States of the doctrine of Responsibility to Protect.

Source: Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kofi_Annan, accessed on 2021-04-28

Death year
2019
Profession
Nationality
Ghana
Primary country of residence
Switzerland