Kofi Annan

Annan, Kofi Atta

Kofi Atta Annan (kō´fē ä´tä ăn´ən) 1938–, Ghanaian diplomat, secretary-general of the United Nations (1997–2006), b. Kumasi. The scion of a family of Fante chieftains, he studied at Macalester College, St. Paul, Minn. (grad. 1961), and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.A., 1972). Annan began working for the United Nations in 1962 (with the World Health Organization) and, except for a stint as head of Ghana's tourist ministry (1974–76), he was with UN bodies until he became secretary-general. He acquired special expertise in the areas of refugees and peacekeeping and in 1990 negotiated the release of UN staff and Western hostages held by Iraq following the invasion of Kuwait. Named (1993) undersecretary-general for peacekeeping operations, he was a special representative to the former Yugoslavia (1995–96), overseeing the transfer of peacekeeping duties from UN forces to NATO. His tenure during this period was marred by the failure of the United Nations, its members, and its peacekeeping forces to prevent the atrocities that occurred in Rwanda and Bosnia.

In 1997, Annan succeeded Boutros Boutros-Ghali as secretary-general, becoming the first sub-Saharan African to hold the office; he was elected to a second five-year term in 2001. Accessible and affably candid, combining idealism with realism, he generally was an effective consensus-builder. Annan particularly emphasized the UN's traditional obligations in the area of human rights and the newer challenges of the HIV/AIDS pandemic and international terrorism. He had some success in streamlining UN bureaucracy and controlling its budget and, until his disagreements with the United States over its invasion of Iraq, had generally improved strained relations with the United States. Annan called for overhauling the United Nations, particularly the Security Council, to make it more representative of the UN's membership and to increase the organization's effectiveness, but he was not able to get member nations to agree to significant changes in the UN's structure. He, along with the United Nations, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001.

In 2002–3 Annan worked unsuccessfully to resolve the division of Cyprus, and in the same period his work as secretary-general was made more difficult by strong differences among the permanent members of the Security Council concerning how to handle Iraq's resistance to complying with UN weapons inspections and by the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq that began in 2003. He subsequently publicly emphasized the need for individual nations to support the United Nations and work through it instead of unilaterally and the need for revamping the Security Council.

In 2004 he publicly criticized the U.S. invasion of Iraq as having been illegal. Those comments were seen as contributing to subsequent calls for his resignation by conservative Republicans in the United States because of the United Nations' failure to prevent corruption in the Iraq oil-for-food program; UN staff and Annan's son were implicated as the investigation into the program progressed. Other nations, however, remained strong supporters of Annan. The report on the oil-for-food program criticized him for exercising inadequate oversight. Annan was succeeded as secretary-general by Ban Ki-Moon. In 2008 Annan negotiated a power-sharing agreement between opposing parties in Kenya after a disputed election there. He later (2012) was joint UN–Arab League envoy to Syria, in an unsuccessful attempt to find a peaceful solution to the civil conflict.

See his memoir (with N. Mousavizadeh, 2012).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Kofi Annan: Selected full-text books and articles

Democracy as an International Issue. (Global Insights)
Annan, Kofi A.
Global Governance, Vol. 8, No. 2, April-June 2002
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
'Remember This Girl'. (from the Secretary-General)
Annan, Kofi.
UN Chronicle, Vol. 39, No. 1, March 1, 2002
Strategies for World Peace: The View of the UN Secretary-General; the United Nations' Priorities for the Future Are to Promote Democracy, Prevent Conflict, and Lessen the Burden of Global Poverty
Annan, Kofi A.
The Futurist, Vol. 36, No. 3, May 2002
Kofi Annan: 'Today the Rule of Law Is at Risk around the World'
New African, No. 434, November 2004
Disarming Iraq: US or UN Rules?
Annan, Kofi.
Canadian Speeches, Vol. 16, No. 4, September-October 2002
U.S. Pre-Emption Threatens Collective Global Security
Annan, Kofi.
Canadian Speeches, Vol. 17, No. 3, September-October 2003
Kofi Annan's Call to Arms: Kennedy Graham Discusses the Problem of UN Reform and Long-Term Legitimacy in Light of the Recent War in Iraq
Graham, Kennedy.
New Zealand International Review, Vol. 28, No. 6, November-December 2003
Combating Islamophobia Depends on Unlearning Intolerance
Annan, Kofi.
UN Chronicle, Vol. 41, No. 4, December 2004
Development without Borders
Annan, Kofi.
Harvard International Review, Vol. 23, No. 2, Summer 2001
Kofi Annan: Back from the Brink?
Duah, Ivor Agyeman; Price, Stuart.
New African, No. 438, March 2005
One-on-One with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan
Chappell, Kevin.
Ebony, Vol. 53, No. 12, October 1998
United Nations Development Programme: Choices Magazine Interview with Mr. Kofi Annan Secretary-General of the United Nations
Diallo, Djibril.
International Journal of Humanities and Peace, Vol. 16, No. 1, Annual 2000
The Millennium Assembly
Rieff, David.
Global Governance, Vol. 7, No. 2, April-June 2001
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
The Greatest Threat: Iraq, Weapons of Mass Destruction, and the Crisis of Global Security
Richard Butler.
PublicAffairs, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 8 "Kofi Annan Goes to Baghdad"
The Role of the UN Secretary-General: The Power of Persuasion Based on Law
Johnstone, Ian.
Global Governance, Vol. 9, No. 4, October-December 2003
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Looking for a topic idea? Use Questia's Topic Generator


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.