The United Nations (UN) will pay tribute to late Secretary General Kofi Annan through various events in the coming days and weeks, including a wreathe laying ceremony at Headquarters in New York on Wednesday.
Flags continue to fly at half-mast at all UN campuses around the world in tribute to a man who continued to have a relationship with the global body from the early 1960s right up until his passing on Saturday.
“I depart convinced that today the UN does more than ever before. It does it better than ever before. Yet, our work is far from complete. Indeed, it will never be.” That was his farewell speech to the General Assembly in 2006. Now, his official portrait at UN Headquarters is roped off in memoriam.
As the UN flags fly at half-mast at an organisation where many continue to grieve, an emotional Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric read a statement from the current Secretary General.
“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. 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’s family and foundation announced his surprise passing after a short illness in Switzerland on Saturday.
He was 80 years old.
Director General of the UN Office in Geneva Michael Moeller described Annan as a peacemaker, adding that the world had lost a moral voice.
“He certainly did a lot of work for Africa. He was a son of Africa and a very dedicated son of Africa. So, he will be remembered for many things. But he will be remembered, above all, I think for his humanity; for being an extraordinary human being who was a peaceful being; sort of infused everything that he did; and his accessibility to people; his compassion for those who are not as lucky as we are; and for the way that he operationalised that compassion – that humanity and everything that he did.”
The Security Council and the General Assembly are expected to confirm memorial events in the days ahead.
Moeller says his impact will not be forgotten.
“He has had a huge impact on the world and on the well-being of people. We tend to forget that, and if there is one thing that one can call good that comes out of his passing, it’s the fact that we will remember those things and remind ourselves of all the fantastic things that he has done; not just when he was Secretary-General, but also afterwards. He continued his work for peace, rights and the well-being of people through his foundations.”
Annan was in many ways part of the fabric of the United Nations, starting his career as an administrative officer at the World Health Organisation in 1962 and rising through the ranks until he became Secretary-General for two terms from 1997 until 2006.
His role as mediator and advisor to the UN continued right throughout his retirement from the organisation, up until his death.
The Annan Family and Foundation have yet to announce funeral arrangements.
In video below tributes from Ghana: