Kofi Annan: Quester for a better world, conscience-keeper

Diplomat extraordinaire, a quintessential humanist with an ingrained empathy for the underdog, Kofi Annan, former UN secretary-general and Nobel laureate, has bequeathed a lasting legacy to the world in the form of Millennium Development Goals.

Annan, who served two terms as UN Secretary-General from January 1, 1997, to December 31, 2006, and was honoured with Nobel Peace Prize for his humanitarian work, died on August 18 at the age of 80. The first black African to lead the United Nations, the Ghana-born diplomat-statesman shaped the global agenda on a raft of crises, including the Iraq War, HIV/AIDS and climate change.

In a world bristling with partisan agendas and geopolitical power play, Annan resolutely championed the cause of peace and humane development. Amid a growing chorus of scepticism about the relevance of the United Nations in a conflicted world, the gifted diplomat took defining initiatives to reform and revive the global body. “More than ever before in human history, we share a common destiny. We can master it only if we face it together. And that, my friends, is why we have the United Nations,” he said famously.

Conscience Keeper

World leaders have paid glowing tributes to the veteran diplomat. UN chief Antonio Guterres lauded him as “a guiding force for good.” Russian President Vladimir Putin described him a “remarkable person” and former US President Barack Obama said Annan had always pursued “a better world”.  India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed Annan as “not only a great African diplomat and humanitarian but also a conscience keeper of international peace and security.”  “Kofi Annan’s significant contribution to the MDGs (Millenium Development Goals) will always be remembered. My thoughts are with his family and admirers in this hour of grief. May his soul rest in peace,” Mr Modi tweeted.

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