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Kofi Annan

(b. 1938) Ghanaian diplomat


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(b. 8 Apr. 1938).

UN Secretary-General 1997–2006 Born in the Ghanaian town of Kumasi, he studied economics, and in 1962 entered the civil service of the UN. He interrupted his time there in 1971, when he obtained a master's in management at the Massachussetts Institute of Technology. He rose through the ranks of the UN, and in 1993 became Under-Secretary for Peace Management. He served as the UN special envoy in former Yugoslavia, where he gained much respect from the nations involved in the peacekeeping efforts there. He succeeded the controversial Boutros Gali, and launched internal reforms of the UN's vast bureaucratic apparatus, which were only partially successful. While this helped overcome a central criticism especially of the USA, Annan also urged greater support for less developed nations, particularly in Africa. He spoke out passionately about the AIDS crisis there. Annan gained popularity through his diplomatic skills, his personal integrity, and his independence, and was re-elected to a second term in 2001. Under Annan, UN peace-keeping missions expanded markedly, including successful missions in Timor Leste, Kosovo, and southern Lebanon. However, he also presided over setbacks, notably his inability to prevent the Iraq War as well as the genocide in Sudan. He was succeeded by Ban Ki-Moon.

Subjects: Social Sciences — Contemporary History (Post 1945).


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