BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Monday August 20, 2018 – Tributes are pouring in from the Caribbean for former United Nations (UN) Secretary General Kofi Annan following his death over the weekend, with many describing him as a global statesman.
The renowned Ghanaian diplomat passed away peacefully on Saturday after a short illness, according to a statement published on his official Twitter account. He was 80 years old.
It is with immense sadness that the Annan family and the Kofi Annan Foundation announce that Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations and Nobel Peace Laureate, passed away peacefully on Saturday 18th August after a short illness… pic.twitter.com/42nGOxmcPZ
— Kofi Annan (@KofiAnnan) August 18, 2018
Barbados’ Prime Minister Mia Mottley said the world has lost a skilled international statesman, Ghana has lost a son of its soil, and Barbados has lost a friend.
She recalled that in January 2002, Annan visited Barbados in the capacity of Secretary General of the United Nations in order to open the UN House in Barbados. In commending Barbados for its achievements and its profile in the international arena, he said that Barbados “punches above its weight”. That phrase quickly became a description of Barbados’ state of development and its role in international politics.
“Kofi Annan’s legacy will forever live in the history of the world. Barbados will always remember this great statesman for his dignity, his vision and his support to our national development efforts,” Mottley said.
The Bahamas government described the late UN top official as “a global statesman who always strived for the best in finding common ground to resolve differences in the world”.
In his message, Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness said the world had lost a great humanitarian icon who served with distinction during his two-term tenure as Secretary General.
He said Annan “was the epitome of a dedicated and committed international civil servant”.
The Trinidad and Tobago leader, Dr. Keith Rowley, pointed to the issues that the late Annan had championed at the United Nations which were aligned with the priorities of its member states, including the twin-island republic, at the multilateral level.
“These priorities include peace and security, development, poverty reduction, combatting climate change, preventing the spread of infectious diseases, combatting terrorism and the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women,” he said.
Annan was the seventh man to take the helm of the global organization and the first Secretary-General to emerge from the ranks of its staff.
The current UN chief, Antonio Guterres hailed him as “a guiding force for good” and a “proud son of Africa who became a global champion for peace and all humanity.”
“Like so many, I was proud to call Kofi Annan a good friend and mentor. I was deeply honoured by his trust in selecting me to serve as UN High Commissioner for Refugees under his leadership. He remained someone I could always turn to for counsel and wisdom — and I know I was not alone,” Mr. Guterres said in a statement.
“He provided people everywhere with a space for dialogue, a place for problem-solving and a path to a better world. In these turbulent and trying times, he never stopped working to give life to the values of the United Nations Charter. His legacy will remain a true inspiration for all us.”
Annan served as UN Secretary-General for two consecutive five-year terms, beginning in January 1997.
He joined the UN system in 1962 as an administrative and budget officer with the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, rising to hold senior-level posts in areas such as budget and finance, and peacekeeping.
As Guterres noted: “In many ways, Kofi Annan was the United Nations. He rose through the ranks to lead the organization into the new millennium with matchless dignity and determination.”
Annan used his office to advocate for human rights, the rule of law, development and Africa, and he worked to bring the UN closer to people worldwide by forging ties with civil society, the private sector and other partners.
As Secretary-General, he also galvanized global action to fight HIV/AIDS and combat terrorism.
Annan and the United Nations jointly were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001.
In his farewell statement to the UN General Assembly in December 2006, Kofi Annan expressed emotion over leaving what he called “this mountain with its bracing winds and global views.”
Although the job had been difficult and challenging, he admitted that it was also “thrillingly rewarding” at times.
“And while I look forward to resting my shoulder from those stubborn rocks in the next phase of my life, I know I shall miss the mountain,” he said.