Kofi Annan quotes

Kofi Annan photo
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Kofi Annan

Birthdate: 8. April 1938
Date of death: 18. August 2018

Kofi Atta Annan was a Ghanaian diplomat who served as the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations from January 1997 to December 2006. Annan and the UN were the co-recipients of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize. He was the founder and chairman of the Kofi Annan Foundation, as well as chairman of The Elders, an international organization founded by Nelson Mandela.Annan studied economics at Macalester College, international relations at the Graduate Institute Geneva, and management at MIT. Annan joined the UN in 1962, working for the World Health Organization's Geneva office. He went on to work in several capacities at the UN Headquarters including serving as the Under-Secretary-General for peacekeeping between March 1992 and December 1996. He was appointed the Secretary-General on 13 December 1996 by the Security Council, and later confirmed by the General Assembly, making him the first office holder to be elected from the UN staff itself. He was re-elected for a second term in 2001, and was succeeded as Secretary-General by Ban Ki-moon on 1 January 2007.

As the Secretary-General, Annan reformed the UN bureaucracy; worked to combat HIV/AIDS, especially in Africa; and launched the UN Global Compact. He was criticized for not expanding the Security Council and faced calls for his resignation after an investigation into the Oil-for-Food Programme, but was largely exonerated of personal corruption. After the end of his term as UN Secretary-General, he founded the Kofi Annan Foundation in 2007 to work on international development. In 2012, Annan was the UN–Arab League Joint Special Representative for Syria, to help find a resolution to the ongoing conflict there. Annan quit after becoming frustrated with the UN's lack of progress with regards to conflict resolution. In September 2016, Annan was appointed to lead a UN commission to investigate the Rohingya crisis. Wikipedia

„I moved on from Minnesota to the United Nations“

—  Kofi Annan

Farewell Speech (2006)
Context: When you leave one home for another, there are always lessons to be learnt. And I had more to learn when I moved on from Minnesota to the United Nations - the indispensable common house of the entire human family, which has been my main home for the last 44 years.

„Truman's name will for ever be associated with the memory of far-sighted American leadership in a great global endeavour.“

—  Kofi Annan

And you will see that every one of my five lessons brings me to the conclusion that such leadership is no less sorely needed now than it was 60 years ago.
Farewell Speech (2006)

„I believe we have a responsibility not only to our contemporaries but also to future generations — a responsibility to preserve resources that belong to them as well as to us, and without which none of us can survive.“

—  Kofi Annan

Truman Library address (2006)
Context: I believe we have a responsibility not only to our contemporaries but also to future generations — a responsibility to preserve resources that belong to them as well as to us, and without which none of us can survive. That means we must do much more, and urgently, to prevent or slow down climate change. Everyday that we do nothing, or too little, imposes higher costs on our children and our children’s children. Of course, it reminds me of an African proverb — the earth is not ours but something we hold in trust for future generations. I hope my generation will be worthy of that trust.

„It is only through multilateral institutions that States can hold each other to account.“

—  Kofi Annan

Truman Library address (2006)
Context: It is only through multilateral institutions that States can hold each other to account. And that makes it very important to organize those institutions in a fair and democratic way, giving the poor and the weak some influence over the actions of the rich and the strong.

„The 20th century was perhaps the deadliest in human history, devastated by innumerable conflicts, untold suffering, and unimaginable crimes.“

—  Kofi Annan

Nobel lecture (2001)
Context: The 20th century was perhaps the deadliest in human history, devastated by innumerable conflicts, untold suffering, and unimaginable crimes. Time after time, a group or a nation inflicted extreme violence on another, often driven by irrational hatred and suspicion, or unbounded arrogance and thirst for power and resources. In response to these cataclysms, the leaders of the world came together at mid-century to unite the nations as never before.
A forum was created — the United Nations — where all nations could join forces to affirm the dignity and worth of every person, and to secure peace and development for all peoples. Here States could unite to strengthen the rule of law, recognize and address the needs of the poor, restrain man’s brutality and greed, conserve the resources and beauty of nature, sustain the equal rights of men and women, and provide for the safety of future generations.

„I think it is especially fitting that I do that here in the house that honours the legacy of Harry S Truman.“

—  Kofi Annan

If FDR [Franklin D Roosevelt] was the architect of the United Nations, President Truman was the master-builder, and the faithful champion of the Organisation in its first years, when it had to face quite different problems from the ones FDR had expected.
Farewell Speech (2006)

„Today, in Afghanistan, a girl will be born. Her mother will hold her and feed her, comfort her and care for her — just as any mother would anywhere in the world. In these most basic acts of human nature, humanity knows no divisions.“

—  Kofi Annan

Nobel lecture (2001)
Context: Today, in Afghanistan, a girl will be born. Her mother will hold her and feed her, comfort her and care for her — just as any mother would anywhere in the world. In these most basic acts of human nature, humanity knows no divisions. But to be born a girl in today's Afghanistan is to begin life centuries away from the prosperity that one small part of humanity has achieved. It is to live under conditions that many of us in this hall would consider inhuman.
I speak of a girl in Afghanistan, but I might equally well have mentioned a baby boy or girl in Sierra Leone. No one today is unaware of this divide between the world’s rich and poor. No one today can claim ignorance of the cost that this divide imposes on the poor and dispossessed who are no less deserving of human dignity, fundamental freedoms, security, food and education than any of us. The cost, however, is not borne by them alone. Ultimately, it is borne by all of us — North and South, rich and poor, men and women of all races and religions.
Today's real borders are not between nations, but between powerful and powerless, free and fettered, privileged and humiliated. Today, no walls can separate humanitarian or human rights crises in one part of the world from national security crises in another.

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„When you leave one home for another, there are always lessons to be learnt“

—  Kofi Annan

Farewell Speech (2006)
Context: When you leave one home for another, there are always lessons to be learnt. And I had more to learn when I moved on from Minnesota to the United Nations - the indispensable common house of the entire human family, which has been my main home for the last 44 years.

„We are not only all responsible for each other’s security. We are also, in some measure, responsible for each other’s welfare.“

—  Kofi Annan

Truman Library address (2006)
Context: We are not only all responsible for each other’s security. We are also, in some measure, responsible for each other’s welfare. Global solidarity is both necessary and possible. — It is necessary because without a measure of solidarity no society can be truly stable, and no one’s prosperity truly secure. That applies to national societies — as all the great industrial democracies learned in the twentieth century — but, it also applies to the increasingly integrated global market economy that we live in today. It is not realistic to think that some people can go on deriving great benefits from globalization while billions of their fellow human beings are left in abject poverty, or even thrown into it. We have to give our fellow citizens, not only within each nation but in the global community, at least a chance to share in our prosperity.

„Throughout history, human life has been enriched by diversity, and different communities have learnt from each other. But, if our different communities are to live together in peace we must stress also what unites us: our common humanity, and our shared belief that human dignity and rights should be protected by law.“

—  Kofi Annan

Truman Library address (2006)
Context: Both security and development ultimately depend on respect for human rights and the rule of law.
— Although increasingly interdependent, our world continues to be divided — not only by economic differences, but also by religion and culture. That is not in itself a problem. Throughout history, human life has been enriched by diversity, and different communities have learnt from each other. But, if our different communities are to live together in peace we must stress also what unites us: our common humanity, and our shared belief that human dignity and rights should be protected by law.

„Both security and development ultimately depend on respect for human rights and the rule of law.“

—  Kofi Annan

Truman Library address (2006)
Context: Both security and development ultimately depend on respect for human rights and the rule of law.
— Although increasingly interdependent, our world continues to be divided — not only by economic differences, but also by religion and culture. That is not in itself a problem. Throughout history, human life has been enriched by diversity, and different communities have learnt from each other. But, if our different communities are to live together in peace we must stress also what unites us: our common humanity, and our shared belief that human dignity and rights should be protected by law.

„No nation can make itself secure by seeking supremacy over all others. We all share responsibility for each other’s security, and only by working to make each other secure can we hope to achieve lasting security for ourselves.“

—  Kofi Annan

Truman Library address (2006)
Context: No nation can make itself secure by seeking supremacy over all others. We all share responsibility for each other’s security, and only by working to make each other secure can we hope to achieve lasting security for ourselves.
— And, I would add that this responsibility is not simply a matter of States being ready to come to each other’s aid when attacked — important though that is. It also includes our shared responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity — a responsibility solemnly accepted by all nations at last year’s UN world summit. That means that respect for national sovereignty can no longer be used as a shield by Governments intent on massacring their own people, or as an excuse for the rest of us to do nothing when heinous crimes are committed.

„My friends, our challenge today is not to save Western civilization — or Eastern, for that matter. All civilization is at stake, and we can save it only if all peoples join together in the task.“

—  Kofi Annan

Truman Library address (2006)
Context: My friends, our challenge today is not to save Western civilization — or Eastern, for that matter. All civilization is at stake, and we can save it only if all peoples join together in the task.
You Americans did so much, in the last century, to build an effective multilateral system, with the United Nations at its heart. Do you need it less today, and does it need you less, than 60 years ago?
Surely not. More than ever today, Americans, like the rest of humanity, need a functioning global system through which the world’s peoples can face global challenges together. And in order to function more effectively, the system still cries out for far-sighted American leadership, in the Truman tradition.
I hope and pray that the American leaders of today, and tomorrow, will provide it.

„Governments must be accountable for their actions in the international arena, as well as in the domestic one.
— Today, the actions of one State can often have a decisive effect on the lives of people in other States.“

—  Kofi Annan

Truman Library address (2006)
Context: Governments must be accountable for their actions in the international arena, as well as in the domestic one.
— Today, the actions of one State can often have a decisive effect on the lives of people in other States. So does it not owe some account to those other States and their citizens, as well as to its own? I believe it does.
— As things stand, accountability between States is highly skewed. Poor and weak countries are easily held to account, because they need foreign assistance. But large and powerful States, whose actions have the greatest impact on others, can be constrained only by their own people, working through their domestic institutions.
— That gives the people and institutions of such powerful States a special responsibility to take account of global views and interests, as well as national ones. And today they need to take into account also the views of what, in UN jargon, we call “non-State actors”. I mean commercial corporations, charities and pressure groups, labor unions, philanthropic foundations, universities and think tanks — all the myriad forms in which people come together voluntarily to think about, or try to change, the world.
— None of these should be allowed to substitute itself for the State, or for the democratic process by which citizens choose their Governments and decide policy. But, they all have the capacity to influence political processes, on the international as well as the national level. States that try to ignore this are hiding their heads in the sand.

„The idea that there is one people in possession of the truth, one answer to the world’s ills, or one solution to humanity’s needs, has done untold harm throughout history — especially in the last century.“

—  Kofi Annan

Nobel lecture (2001)
Context: The idea that there is one people in possession of the truth, one answer to the world’s ills, or one solution to humanity’s needs, has done untold harm throughout history — especially in the last century. Today, however, even amidst continuing ethnic conflict around the world, there is a growing understanding that human diversity is both the reality that makes dialogue necessary, and the very basis for that dialogue.
We understand, as never before, that each of us is fully worthy of the respect and dignity essential to our common humanity. We recognize that we are the products of many cultures, traditions and memories; that mutual respect allows us to study and learn from other cultures; and that we gain strength by combining the foreign with the familiar.

„We have entered the third millennium through a gate of fire. If today, after the horror of 11 September, we see better, and we see further — we will realize that humanity is indivisible.“

—  Kofi Annan

Nobel lecture (2001)
Context: We have entered the third millennium through a gate of fire. If today, after the horror of 11 September, we see better, and we see further — we will realize that humanity is indivisible. New threats make no distinction between races, nations or regions. A new insecurity has entered every mind, regardless of wealth or status. A deeper awareness of the bonds that bind us all — in pain as in prosperity — has gripped young and old.

„I arrived there straight from Africa“

—  Kofi Annan

and I can tell you, Minnesota soon taught me the value of a thick overcoat, a warm scarf and even ear-muffs!
Farewell Speech (2006)

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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