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Young & Kent: International Relations since 1945 2e

Kofi Annan

Kofi Annan is the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations. The first Secretary-General to be elected from the ranks of United Nations staff, he began his first term on 1 January 1997. On 29 June 2001, acting on a recommendation by the Security Council, the General Assembly appointed him by acclamation to a second term of office, beginning on 1 January 2002 and ending on 31 December 2006.

Mr. Annan's priorities as Secretary-General have been to revitalize the United Nations through a comprehensive programme of reform; to strengthen the Organization's traditional work in the areas of development and the maintenance of international peace and security; to encourage and advocate human rights, the rule of law and the universal values of equality, tolerance and human dignity found in the United Nations Charter; and to restore public confidence in the Organization by reaching out to new partners and, in his words, by "bringing the United Nations closer to the people".

Mr. Annan was born in Kumasi, Ghana, on 8 April 1938. He studied at the University of Science and Technology in Kumasi and completed his undergraduate work in economics at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, U.S.A., in 1961. From 1961 to 1962, he undertook graduate studies in economics at the Institut universitaire des hautes études internationales in Geneva. As a 1971-1972 Sloan Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Mr. Annan received a Master of Science degree in management.

Mr. Annan joined the United Nations system in 1962 as an administrative and budget officer with the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva. Since then, he has served with the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in Addis Ababa; the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF II) in Ismailia; the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Geneva; and, at UN Headquarters in New York, as Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources Management and Security Coordinator for the UN System (1987-1990), and Assistant Secretary-General for Programme Planning, Budget and Finance, and Controller (1990-1992).

In 1990, following the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq, Mr. Annan was asked by the Secretary-General, as a special assignment, to facilitate the repatriation of more than 900 international staff and citizens of Western countries from Iraq. He subsequently led the first United Nations team negotiating with Iraq on the sale of oil to fund purchases of humanitarian aid.

Before being appointed Secretary-General, Mr. Annan served as Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations (March 1992-February 1993) and then as Under-Secretary-General (March 1993-December 1996). His tenure as Under-Secretary-General coincided with unprecedented growth in the size and scope of United Nations peacekeeping operations, with a total deployment, at its peak in 1995, of almost 70,000 military and civilian personnel from 77 countries. From November 1995 to March 1996, following the Dayton Peace Agreement that ended the war in Bosnia and Hercegovina, Mr. Annan served as Special Representative of the Secretary-General to the former Yugoslavia, overseeing the transition in Bosnia and Hercegovina from the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) to the multinational Implementation Force (IFOR) led by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

In April 2000, he issued a Millennium Report, entitled "We the Peoples: The Role of the United Nations in the 21st Century", calling on Member States to commit themselves to an action plan for ending poverty and inequality, improving education, reducing HIV/AIDS, safeguarding the environment and protecting peoples from deadly conflict and violence. The Report formed the basis of the Millennium Declaration adopted by Heads of State and Government at the Millennium Summit, held at UN Headquarters in September 2000.

On 10 December 2001, the Secretary-General and the United Nations received the Nobel Peace Prize. In conferring the Prize, the Nobel Committee said Mr. Annan “had been pre-eminent in bringing new life to the Organization”. In also conferring the Prize on the world body, the Committee said that it wished “to proclaim that the only negotiable road to global peace and cooperation goes by way of the United Nations”.

The Secretary-General is fluent in English, French and several African languages. He is married to Nane Annan, of Sweden, a lawyer and artist. Mr. and Mrs. Annan have three children.