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KOFI ANNAN

Kofi Annan

Kofi Annan is one of the highest ranking Africans, having risen to the much coveted post of United Nations Secretary-General. The United Nations is a highly respected world body and to have a black African at its helm is certainly something all people of African descent should be extremely proud of. Kofi Annan however is not the first African to have become UN Secretary- General. Butros-Butros Ghali of Egypt was UN Secretary-General from 1992 to 1996.

Kofi Annan was born on 8th April 1938 in Kumasi, Ghana. After completing his elementary and high school education in Kumasi, he enrolled at the University of Science and Technology also in Kumasi. After a short stint at the University, he left for Macalester College in the United States where he obtained his Bachelors Degree in Economics in 1961. From 1961 to 1962 he undertook Graduate studies in Economics at the Institut Universitaire des hautes etudes internationales in Geneva, Switzerland. Later in 1972, he bagged a Master of Science Degree in Management from the prestigious Massachussetts Institute of Technology(MIT).

His career at the United Nations began in 1952 when he was employed by the World Health Organization(WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland. In Geneva, he also worked with the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees(UNHCR). At the UN Headquarters in New York, he held various senior positions before ascending to the post of Secretary-General. He was in charge of Human Resources Management from 1987-1990, Budget and Finance from 1990-1992, and peacekeeping operations from 1992-1996. Before becoming UN Secretary-General, he was also credited with several special assignments including the 1990 repartriation of international staff and citizens of Western countries from Iraq after it invaded Kuwait and the initial negotiations with Iraq on the sale of oil to fund humanitarian relief. In addition to this, from 1995-1996 he served as the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative to the former Yugoslavia.

As Secretary-General of the UN he has also made significant achievements, one of them being his 1998 efforts to ensure a smooth transition to civilian rule in Nigeria. In 1999 he not only helped resolve the stalemate between Libya and the UN Security Council but also led an international effort to tackle the violence in East Timor. Since the renewed outbreak of violence in the Middle East in 2000, he has used his diplomatic skills to encourage the Israelis and Palestinians to seek a diplomatic rather than a military solution to their conflict advocating specifically the "land for peace" approach.

In his April 2000 report on the UN's role in the 21st Century he outlined actions needed to end poverty and inequality, improve education, reduce HIV/AIDS, safeguard the environment and protect people from violence. Most of the report's recommendations are included in the "Millenium Declaration" which was adopted by national leaders attending the UN Millenium Summit in September 2000. Kofi Annan is the 7th UN Secretary-General, but the 1st to be elected directly from the ranks of the UN staff. His first 5-year term began on 1st January 1997 and he was re-elected for a second 5-year term that began on 1st January 2002.

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