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Biographies - Kofi Annan
Kofi Annan
Image Source: Kofi Annan @ Wikipedia
Kofi Annan
Born: April 8, 1938
Ghanaian born diplomat who served as the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations from January 1, 1997 to December 31, 2006, serving two five-year terms.


Kofi Atta Annan (born April 8, 1938) is a Ghanaian diplomat and the seventh and current Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Annan was born to Henry Reginald and Victoria Annan in the Kofandros section of Kumasi, Ghana. As with most Akan names, his name indicates the day of the week he was born and place in his family: Kofi indicates a boy born on a Friday, and Annan denotes that he was the fourth child of his family. Annan was a twin, an occurrence that is regarded as special in Ghanaian culture; his twin sister Efua Atta died in 1991. Atta means twin in Fante.

Annans family was part of the countrys elite; both of his grandfathers and his uncle were tribal chiefs. His father was half Asante and half Fante; his mother was Fante. Annans father worked for a long period as an export manager for the Lever Brothers cocoa company.

Annan is married to Nane Maria Annan, a Swedish lawyer and artist who is the half-niece of Raoul Wallenberg. Of their three children, Kojo Annan and Ama Annan are from Kofi Annans previous marriage with Titi Alakija. They divorced in the late 1970s. Their third child, Nina Cronstedt de Groot, is from a previous marriage of Nane Annan. Kojo Annan was in the headlines in 2005 because of his involvement in the Oil for Food program scandal.

From 1954 to 1957, Annan attended the elite Mfantsipim school, a Methodist boarding school in Cape Coast founded in the 1870s. Annan has said that the school taught him "that suffering anywhere concerns people everywhere". In 1957, the year Annan graduated from Mfantsipim, Ghana became the first British colony in Sub-Saharan Africa to gain independence.

In 1958, Annan began studying for a degree in economics at the Kumasi College of Science and Technology, now the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology of Ghana. He received a Ford Foundation grant, enabling him to complete his undergraduate studies at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, United States in 1961. Annan then studied at the Graduate Institute of International Studies (Institut universitaire des hautes �tudes internationales IUHEI) in Geneva, Switzerland, from 1961�62, later attending the MIT Sloan School of Management (1971�72) as a Sloan Fellow and receiving a Master of Science degree in management with a minor in poetry.

Annan is fluent in English, French, Fante and other dialects of Akan, and other African languages.

Annan started working for the World Health Organization, an agency of the United Nations, in 1962. From 1974 to 1976, Annan worked as the Director of Tourism in Ghana.

Following that, he returned to work for the United Nations as an Assistant Secretary-General in three consecutive positions: Human Resources Management and Security Coordinator from 1987 to 1990, Program Planning, Budget and Finance, and Controller from 1990 to 1992, and Peacekeeping Operations from March 1993 to February 1994.

In his book Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda, ex-General Rom�o Dallaire claims that Annan has been overly passive in his response to the 1994 Tutsi genocide in Rwanda. Gen. Dallaire explicitly stated that the then Undersecretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations held back UN troops from intervening to settle the conflict and from providing more logistic and material support. Annan would have, as an instance, omitted to give any kind of answer to his repeated faxes asking him to gain access to a weapons depository, something that could have helped to the defense of the Tutsis.

Annan was then an Undersecretary-General until October 1995, when he was made a Special Representative of the Secretary-General to the former Yugoslavia, serving for five months in this capacity and returning to his duties as Undersecretary-General in April 1996.

Annan addresses the press in Rome during a trip to Italy in February 2004.On December 13, 1996, Annan was selected by the UN Security Council to be Secretary-General and was confirmed four days later by the General Assembly. Annan took the oath of office without delay, starting his first term as Secretary-General on January 1, 1997. Annan replaced outgoing Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali of Egypt, becoming the first person from a black African nation to become Secretary-General.

Annans Secretary-Generalship was renewed on January 1, 2002, an unusual deviation from informal policy. The office usually rotates around the continents, with two terms each; since Annans predecessor Ghali was also an African, normally Annan would have only served one term. However, in this case Annan was able to secure reappointment.

In April 2001, the Secretary-General issued a five-point "Call to Action" to address the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Annan sees this pandemic as his "personal priority" as Secretary-General and in life in general. He proposed the establishment of a Global AIDS and Health Fund to stimulate increased spending needed to help developing countries confront the HIV/AIDS crisis.

On December 10, 2001, Annan and the United Nations jointly received the Nobel Peace Prize, "for their work for a better organized and more peaceful world".

Annan was Secretary-General during the 2003 invasion of Iraq and called for the United States and the United Kingdom not to invade without UN support. In 2004 Annan called the invasion and occupation illegal.

In June 2004, Annan was given a copy of the OIOS report on the complaint of sexual harassment, abuse of authority and retaliation against Ruud Lubbers, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and sexual harassment and misconduct as well against Werner Blatter, Director of UNHCR Personnel by a long-serving staff member. The investigation report found Ruud Lubbers guilty of sexual harassment and no mention was made publicly of the other charge against a senior official or the two subsequent complaints she filed later that year. In the course of the official investigation, Lubbers wrote a letter that some speculate was a threat to the female worker who had brought the charges of misconduct. [1] However, on July 15, 2004, Lubbers was declared innocent by Kofi Annan. His decision only lasted until November when OIOS issued its annual report to the UN General Assembly noting it has found Lubbers guilty. Widely reported in the media, these events served to weaken Annan further.

Finally, in February 2005, the UK Independent ran a cover story on the scandal excerpting portions of the OIOS investigation. Unrepentant and claiming his innocence to reporters even after as he exited from his meeting with Annan and Malloch Brown in New York, Ruud Lubbers was forced to resign his post on 21 February, ten months short of the end of his tenure.

On November 17, 2004, Annan accepted a report clearing UN Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services Dileep Nair of graft and sexual harassment charges, some viewed as retaliation against Nair for supporting the complainant in the Lubbers affair. Still, clearance was not viewed favorably by some UN staff in NY, leading to extensive debate on November 19.

In December 2004, United States Republican Senator Norm Coleman called for Annans resignation after reports surfaced that his son Kojo received payments from the Swiss company Cotecna Inspection SA, which won a lucrative contract under the UN Oil for Food program. Annan called for an investigation into this matter.

The Independent Inquiry Committee into The United Nations Oil-for-Food Programme was appointed by Annan and led by former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, in spite of the latters strong ideological ties to the UN as director of the United Nations Association of the United States of America. In his first interview with the Inquiry Committee, Annan denied having had a meeting with Cotecna. Later in the inquiry he recalled that he had met with Cotecnas chief executive Elie-Georges Massey twice. In a final report issued on October 27, the committee exonerated Kofi Annan of any illegal actions, but found fault with the UN management structure and the Security Council oversight. It strongly recommended a new position of Chief Operating Officer to handle the fiscal and administrative responsibilities which currently fall to the Secretary Generals office. The report listed the companies, both Western and Middle Eastern, who illegally benefited from the Program. Some believe the committee and its outcome to have been politically motivated.

On March 21, 2005, Annan presented a progress report, In Larger Freedom, to the UN General Assembly. Annan recommended Security Council expansion and a host of other UN reforms.

Outside the United States, Annan has few opponents; he has the unanimous support of the UN Security Council. Mark Malloch Brown has served as Chef de Cabinet to the Secretary-General since January 2005. Louise Fr�chette is his Deputy Secretary-General.

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