Prime minister Charles Michel has paid tribute to Kofi Annan, the former secretary-general of the United Nations, who died at the age of 80 on Saturday. “A man of state and a man of peace has departed us,” Michel wrote on Twitter. “What I will recall of Kofi Annan are his struggles for a commitment to multilateralism, for the protection of human rights and for the prevention of conflict in the world. My condolences to his family and to those close to him.”
Kofi Atta Annan was born in April 1938 in Kumasi in what is now Ghana. He was one of twins; his sister was Efua Atta Annan – Atta in the local language means “twin”.
He studied economics at university, and won a Ford Foundation award, which allowed him to study in the US, followed by periods of study in Geneva and at MIT.
His career began with the World Health Organisation, followed by the High Commission for Refugees. He was made assistant secretary-general under his predecessor Boutros Boutros-Ghali in 1987.
He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, together with the UN as a whole, in 2001, for their work fighting international terrorism, working to halt the spread of Aids and giving a priority to human rights.
“He fought a brave fight and was a strong supporter of sexual rights, which are also human rights” said Goedele Liekens, a current UN Ambassador. “It would have been much easier for him to opt for fighting child hunger, for example, but he wasn’t afraid to take on the tougher cause. Annan was a very charismatic, decided man. After talking to him, I always found the energy and the strength to do whatever had to be done
Annan died in Bern in Switzerland after a brief illness. His birthplace Ghana has declared a week of national mourning.