UN’s Guterres signs book of condolence for Annan

Reading Time: 3 minutes

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has signed a book of condolence and laid a wreath in honour of his late predecessor Kofi Annan, who passed away on Saturday.

The seventh UN Chief, who hailed from Ghana and had an almost 60 year relationship with the UN, was described as a true voice for the voiceless, who became known for his humility, enormous wisdom and strength.

The current UN Chief spent almost six minutes writing a personal message in the condolence book. Then paused at a wreathe to remember his predecessor and former colleague.

“We are here to pay tribute to Kofi Annan, one of the best of ours, a man who embodied the UN values and made us all proud to call ourselves his colleagues. This is a personal loss for many of us, it is difficult to imagine what a blow it must be to his wife and to his family. Our hearts go out to them,” says Guterres.

Guterres described Annan’s two terms in office as an exiting time for the UN, creating a renewed sense of possibility both inside and outside the organisation. Annan’s failures were also acknowledged.

“His most defining features were his humanity and solidarity with those in need, he put people at the centre of the work of the UN and was able to turn compassion into action across the UN system. We are still reaping the rewards of the Millennium Summit when he brought the world together to agree the first global targets on poverty and child mortality. His response to the HIV Aids epidemic united governments, NGOs and the healthcare industry and undoubtedly saved many lives.  And Kofi Annan faced up to the grave errors made by the UN in the 90s in its response to the Rwandan genocide and Srebrenica killings by shining a light inside the UN – the reports he commissioned aimed to make sure such terrible mistakes are never repeated.”

Ghana’s envoy to the UN thanked the organisation and its staff for their solidarity during this period of mourning.

Martha Ama Akyaa Pobee Ghana Ambassador to the UN says: “It is a rather difficult time for the family and people of Ghana, the land of birth of Kofi Annan but we find comfort in the outpouring of tributes from virtually every corner of the world. ON this sad occasion we salute and celebrate Kofi Annan’s memory and contributions to peace and security, socio economic development, human rights, health and so much more. As the first SG to be appointed from the ranks of the UN and from black Africa, he understood the organisation and firmly believed in its charter and vision.”

A UN official has indicated that they’re awaiting confirmation from Ghana and the family on funeral arrangements.

The UN Security Council and the General Assembly are also expected to pay tribute in the days ahead to a man described as an extraordinary statesman, a remarkable diplomat and an inspiring leader.

As Antonio Guterres put it – he will be remembered above all for his gentleness, his warmth and friendship to many.