The former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, has died in a hospital in Switzerland at the age of 80 after a short illness, his family and foundation announced on Saturday.
Annan, a Ghanaian, was the seventh secretary general of the United Nations succeeding Egypt’s Boutros Boutros-Ghali as UN leader and served for two terms between 1997 and 2006. He was awarded the Nobel peace prize for his humanitarian work jointly with the UN as an organisation in 2001.
Annan died in a hospital in Bern, Switzerland in the early hours of Saturday with his wife, Nane, and three children Ama, Kojo and Nina, by his side. Annan retired to Geneva and later lived in a Swiss village until his death.
Annan’s foundation issued a statement on his Facebook and Twitter accounts on Saturday that described him as a “global statesman and deeply committed internationalist who fought throughout his life for a fairer and more peaceful world”.
Born in Kumasi, Ghana, on 8 April 1938, Annan joined the UN system in 1962 as an administrative officer with the World Health Organization in Geneva. He later served with the Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa, the UN Emergency Force in Ismailia, the UN high commissioner for refugees in Geneva and in several senior posts at its headquarters in New York.
In a statement, the current UN secretary general, António Guterres, whom Annan appointed to lead its refugee agency, said: “In many ways, Kofi Annan was the United Nations. He rose through the ranks to lead the organisation into the new millennium with matchless dignity and determination.”
Many world leaders have expressed regrets over the death of Annan and praised him for his humanitarian works and contribution to world peace.