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Pictures and Biography of KOFI ANNAN

On January 1, 1997, Kofi Annan became the seventh Secretary General of the United Nations. His election followed a bitterly-contested United States veto of a second term for his predecessor, Boutros Boutros-Ghali of Egypt. The Security Council recognized it was still Africa's "turn" in the UN's highest office, and eventually selected the U.S.- and French-backed Annan, a soft-spoken Ghanaian then heading the UN's Peacekeeping Department.

Annan proved an innovative and surprisingly independent Secretary General - far less in thrall to the US than many had anticipated. Though his choices are severely limited by the UN's financial crisis and by unrelenting pressure from the US and other major powers, Annan has won widespread support and learned to maximize his options. He moved quickly to reassert UN centrality in emergencies across the globe.

UN staffers have been largely delighted with their new chief, and morale within the organization soared. Annan, the first black African Secretary General and the first to rise to the top position from within the ranks of the UN staff, is appreciated not only for his political acumen, but for his respect for and willingness to work collaboratively with his colleagues.

Born in Ghana in 1938, Annan studied economics in Kumasi and earned a bachelor's degree at Macalester College in Minnesota in 1961. He did graduate work in Geneva and later earned a master's degree in management from MIT in 1972.

 

Kofi Annan with Collin Powell
Kofi Annan with George W. Bush
Annan joined the United Nations system in 1962, working in financial and management posts with the World Health Organization, the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, the UN Economic Commission for Africa, and at UN headquarters in New York. He headed the UN's Peacekeeping Department from 1993-1995, and again in 1996, during a period of unprecedented growth in the size and scope of United Nations peacekeeping operations. At its peak in 1995, the UN was fielding almost 70,000 military and civilian "Blue Helmets" from 77 countries.

During Annan's tenure as head of UN peacekeeping, many problems and tragedies arose, as international crises like Bosnia and Rwanda overwhelmed the UN's capacity and demonstrated the insufficiency of support from major member states. While Annan shared some responsibility, and characteristically apologized for his judgement errors, the main crises resulted not from Secretariat or secretary-general failures, but from the refusal of the major Security Council members to adequately respond and back the UN efforts.

 

 

Nobel Prize for Kofi Annan
When Annan came into office in 1997, he faced formidable challenges. The organization was near bankruptcy and it faced serious criticism and hostility in Washington. In his first weeks in office, Annan traveled to Washington to build support in the conservative Congress. He promised to shrink the UN's operating budget, asking in return that the U.S. pay its $1.6 billion in back dues.Annan continued his predecessor's cuts in UN staff and budget. At the same time he introduced many management reforms - a new post of Deputy Secretary General, a new office of financial oversight to keep watch for waste and corruption, and a more efficient cabinet-style management. Still, the United States refused to pay its debts, prolonging the financial crisis and keeping Annan's UN very short of resources.
In April 2001, the Secretary-General issued a five-point "Call to Action" to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic -- which he described as his "personal priority" -- and proposed the establishment of a Global AIDS and Health Fund to serve as a
mechanism for some of the increased spending needed to help developing countries confront the crisis.

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 who has a great interest in understanding the work of the United Nations in the field. Two issues of particular concern to her are HIV/AIDS and education for women. She has also written a book for children about the United Nations. Mr. and Mrs. Annan have three children.