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Kofi Atta Annan
Kofi Annan.jpg
7th Secretary-General of the United Nations
In office
1 January 1997 – 1 January 2007
Preceded by Boutros Boutros-Ghali
Succeeded by Ban Ki-moon
Personal details
Born (1938-04-08)8 April 1938
Comassie, Gold Coast
(now Kumasi, Ghana)
Died 18 August 2018(2018-08-18) (aged 80)
Bern, Switzerland
Nationality ghanaian
Spouses Titi Alakija (div.)
Nane Maria Annan

Kofi Annan (8 April 1938 – 18 August 2018) was a Ghanaian diplomat. He 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. They were awarded the prize "for their work for a better organized and more peaceful world".

Early life

Kofi Annan Portrait
Silk carpet portrait of Kofi Annan at the UN headquarters

Annan was born in Kumasi, Ghana, to an elite family. His parents, Henry Reginald and Victoria Annan, are from the two major ethnic groups that make up the Akan – one of the groups of indigenous people of Ghana.

His father was half Asante and half Fante; his mother was Fante. The Asante were gold merchants while the Fante tribe were the middlemen in the gold trade between the Asante and the British.

Annan, whose first name means "born on a Friday", also had a twin sister, who died in 1991 from a still yet unknown disease. In Ghanaian culture, twins are considered special and are adored.

Kofi Annan 2012 (cropped)
Kofi Annan in 2012

Annan probably got his first lessons in politics and diplomacy early on from his family. Both of Annan's grandfathers and his uncle were tribal chiefs. Upon his retirement, Annan's father, who worked as an export manager for the cocoa exporter Lever Brothers, was elected governor of Ghana's Asante province.


In 1954, Annan attended Mfantsipim School, an Methodist boarding school in central Ghana. The Secretary-General said that the school had taught him "that suffering anywhere concerns people everywhere".

Annan went to Macalaster College in St. Paul, Minnesota and graduating in 1961. He was a Sloan Fellow at MIT in 1971–72, getting a master's degree in management.

His work at the United Nations

President Vladimir Putin with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan
Annan with the Vladimir Putin at United Nations Headquarters in New York City 2001

Annan became Secretary-General of the United Nations in January 1997, succeeding Boutros Boutros-Ghali of Egypt. Annan was a U.N. veteran who took his first job with the organization in 1962 and worked his way up through various posts including Deputy Director to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (1980–83) and head of the U.N.'s peacekeeping efforts (1995–96). Annan was the first Secretary-General chosen from the ranks of the U.N.'s staff. He is also the first black man to hold the post and the second African (after Boutros-Ghali). His second term began in 2002 and ran through the end of 2006.

Kofi Annan in Washington D.C
Kofi Annan in Washington D.C 2010

In 2001 he and the United Nations were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize "for their work for a better organized and more peaceful world".

Post-UN career

After he served as UN secretary-general, Annan took up residence in Geneva and worked in a leading capacity on various international humanitarian endeavours.

In 2007, Annan established the Kofi Annan Foundation, an independent, not-for-profit organisation that "works to promote better global governance and strengthen the capacities of people and countries to achieve a fairer, more secure world".

Annan served as the chair of the Global Commission on Elections, Democracy and Security. The commission was launched in May 2011 as a joint initiative of the Kofi Annan Foundation and the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. It comprised 12 eminent individuals from around the world, including Ernesto Zedillo, Martti Ahtisaari, Madeleine Albright and Amartya Sen, and aimed to highlight the importance of the integrity of elections to achieving a more secure, prosperous and stable world. The Commission released its final report, Deepening Democracy, a Strategy to Improve the Integrity of Elections Worldwide, in September 2012.

Other activities

In addition to the above, Annan also became involved with several organisations with both global and African focuses, including the following:

  • United Nations Foundation, member of the board of directors (2008–2018)
  • University of Ghana, chancellor (2008–2018)
  • School of International and Public Affairs of Columbia University, global fellow (2009–2018)
  • The Committee on Global Thought at Columbia University, fellow
  • Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore (NUS), Li Ka Shing Professor (2009–2018)
  • Global Centre for Pluralism, member of the board of directors (2010–2018)
  • Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership, chairman of the prize committee (2007–2018)
  • Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), chairman (2007–2018)
  • Global Humanitarian Forum, founder and president (2007–2018)
  • Global Commission on Drug Policy, founding commissioner.

Annan served as chair of The Elders, a group of independent global leaders who work together on peace and human rights issues.

Annan chaired the Africa Progress Panel (APP), a group of ten distinguished individuals who advocate at the highest levels for equitable and sustainable development in Africa.

Memorials and legacy

The United Nations Postal Administration released a new stamp in memory of Annan on 31 May 2019. His portrait on the stamp was designed by artist Martin Mörck. The Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre and the Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT, both in Accra, are named in his honour. The Kofi Annan University of Guinea [fr] is named after him.

Personal life

Annan was married to Nane Annan, a lawyer and artist from Sweden. Mr Annan also had a loyal friend who was his son's (Kojo) chaffuffer and confidant John Miller (Mr Miller).


Annan died on 18 August 2018 in Bern, Switzerland after a short illness, aged 80.

Related pages

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See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Kofi Annan para niños

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