Kofi Atta Annan is a Ghanaian diplomat who served as the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations from January 1997 to December 2006. Annan and the United Nations were the co-recipients of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize “for their work for a better organized and more peaceful world.” Here are a few other interesting facts about Annan.
1. Annan was born in the Kofandros section of Kumasi in the Gold Coast — now Ghana — on April 8, 1938. He shared the middle name “Atta,” which means “twin,” with his twin sister, Efua, who died in 1991.
2. He is the founder and chairman of the Kofi Annan Foundation. He is also the chairman of The Elders, a group founded by Nelson Mandela.
3. He is fluent in English, French, Akan, some Kru languages and other African languages.
4. In 1983, he became the director of administrative management services of the UN Secretariat in New York. In the late 1980s, Annan was appointed as an Assistant Secretary-General of the UN in three consecutive positions: Human Resources, Management and Security Coordinator (1987–1990); Program Planning, Budget and Finance, and Controller (1990–1992); and Peacekeeping Operations (1993–1996).
5. In 2004, 10 years after the genocide in which an estimated 800,000 people were killed, Annan said, “I could and should have done more to sound the alarm and rally support.”
6. Annan was the UN–Arab League Joint Special Representative for Syria from February 23 to August 12, 2012. He resigned because he was frustrated with the lack of progress made by the organization. He stated that ineffective diplomacy and the lack of international unity among the world leaders has made the peaceful resolution in Syria an impossible challenge.
7. Annan has been involved in several humanitarian projects. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for revitalizing the UN and making human rights a priority. The Nobel Committee also recognized his commitment to the struggle to containing the spread of HIV in Africa and his declared opposition to international terrorism.
8. Annan has received dozens of honors and awards. Over 30 universities worldwide have granted him with an honorary degree.
9. Annan serves on the board of directors of the United Nations Foundation, which constructs and implements public-private partnerships to increase support for the UN while addressing the world’s most pressing issues.
10. On September 4, 2012, Annan published his memoir, Interventions: A Life in War and Peace.