Kofi Atta Annan
Former United Nations Secretary General (1997-2007)
Date of Birth: 8/4/1938
Place of Birth: Kumasi
Married with three children
Education: BA Economics, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, (final year, Macalester College, Minnesota, United States), 1958-61; MA International Relations, Institut de Hautes Etudes Internationales et du Développement, Geneva, Switzerland, 1961-62; MSc Management, MIT Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts, USA, 1971-72.
Career: Administrative & Budget Officer and various positions, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland, 1962-74; Director of Tourism, Ministry of Tourism & Diasporean Relations, Ghana, 1974-76; Assistant Secretary General, Human Resources Management & Security Coordinator, 1987-90; Assistant Secretary General, Programme Planning Budget & Finance, 1990-92; Assistant Secretary General, Peacekeeping Operations, 1993-94; Under-Secretary General, Office of the Under-Secretary General, 1994-95; Special Representative of the Secretary General to the former Yugoslavia, Office of the Secretary General, 1995-96; Under-Secretary General, 1996; United Nations Secretary General, 1997-2007: United Nations; Chancellor of the University of Ghana, 2007 to date.
Former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan is taking African advocacy directly to Asia, as he takes up his appointment as Li Ka-shing Professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. After calling on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Annan delivered a speech at the National University of Singapore on 26 February. Annan commended Asian governments that base their legitimacy on delivering development – a gentle formulation that includes authoritarian and democratic governments alike. But by the end of the speech, Annan was pushing hard for African engagement that was transparent, fair and sustainable. He then travelled to Indonesia to meet President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and address the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Secretariat.
Annan worked at the World Health Organisation and as Ghana’s Director of Tourism before joining the UN. He became Assistant Secretary General in 1987, serving roles in human resources, budget and finance, and peacekeeping operations. As Secretary General (1997-2007), he prioritised development and security. The UN Peacebuilding Commission and the Human Rights Council were established on his watch. The Millenium Development Goals were adopted in 2000 and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria was set up in 2002.
Annan’s post-UN years have been active. He is Chairman of the Mo Ibrahim Prize Committee for African leadership and is also a member of Nelson Mandela’s Global Elders. The Elders are former global leaders ‘who offer their collective influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity’.