Kofi Annan

Kofi Annan
Born: Apr 8, 1938 in Comassie, Gold Coast
Nationality: Ghanaian
Famous For: Secretary-General of the United Nations (1997-2006)
Awards: Harvard University Honors Prize, Nobel Peace Prize

Kofi Atta Annan is a Ghanaian diplomat who served as the 7th Secretary General of the UN for 10 years, from January 1, 1997, to December 31, 2006. Annan, along with the UN, has been recipient of 2001 Noble Peace Prize. Born on April 8, 1938, in Kumasi, Kofi Annan hailed from an aristocratic family of Ghana. His family members were tribal chiefs and were amongst influential people in Ghana.

Annan’s Personal Life

Annan did his schooling from Ghana and attended an elite Methodist boarding school. He later attended four different colleges in Switzerland and United States, studying international relations and earning a Master of Science degree as well.

Annan attended the University of Science and Technology in Ghana. Then he studied economics from Macalester College in the US and the he earned a degree in international relations from Geneva, Switzerland. After few years of work experience, Annan completed his Master of Science from MIT Sloan School of Management. He knew multiple languages, including Akan (his native language), English, French, Kru and other African languages.

Kofi Annan is married to Nane Annan, who hails from Sweden and is a lawyer and painter. She shares great interest in the works of United Nations, especially the humanitarian aspects. She has shown particular interest in issues concerning AIDS and education for women. The couple has three children.

Career and Leadership

Kofi Annan has been called “the rock star of international relations.” He started his career working as a budget officer for the World Health Organization in 1962 in Geneva. Since 1971, Annan has been a lifelong bureaucratic insider at the UN who held numerous influential administrative posts.

He served with the UN Economic Commission for Africa, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, UN Emergency Force in Egypt and in the UN’s Headquarters in New York. Annan’s popularity during the early years of his tenure translated into a power surge for the centralizing control. With his efforts only, the World Bank and the Monetary Fund have come under controls of the United Nations.

Leadership as Secretary General

Between the years 1974 and 1976, he took a break from being an international civil servant and worked as the Director of Tourism in Ghana. He re-joined the United Nations and rose through the ranks to become Secretary General. His first five-year term as the UN Secretary General began on January 1, 1997.

He was the first Secretary General to be elected from within the UN. He streamlined bureaucracy, created clearer lines of responsibility, and managed the finances. He retired in 2006 with Ban Ki Moon becoming the new Secretary General of the United Nations.

Kofi Annan was a strategic leader and a visionary, revolutionary thinker. His vision provided direction and inspiration necessary to create, sustain or provide direction to an organization. He also supported peacekeeping operations in Darfur, Sudan, where he sent UN resources to resolve the problem. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001 in recognition of his lifelong achievements.

Other Leadership Positions

Kofi Annan is also committed to education. He is an alumnus of the International School of Geneva and has served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the United Nations International School in New York from 1987 to 1995. He also worked on various contemporary issues such as Women Rights with several Arab and Muslim countries.