• Erik Fogel

This Day in Debate History: Kofi Annan (4/8/20)

“We all have the power to make choices - we can choose to be silent and turn away or we can step forward and take action.”



“We all have the power to make choices - we can choose to be silent and turn away or we can step forward and take action.”


Annan was born in Ghana on April 8th 1938. He received his political education early because both his grandfathers and uncle were tribal chiefs. He attended school at a Methodist boarding school in central Ghana where he learned “that suffering anywhere concerns people everywhere.” Annan received a grant to attend Macalester College where he was a member of the debate team and state champion orator.


He joined the United Nations in 1962 at the age of 24, working for the World Health Organization and rose up the ranks to become Secretary General in 1997. Anan served as the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations from January 1997 to December 2006. Annan and the UN were the co-recipents of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize "for their work for a better organized and more peaceful world.” The Nobel Committee also described Annan as "an excellent representative of the United Nations and probably the most effective secretary-general in its history.”


He led an extraordinary number of initiatives at the United Nations. One of his landmark proposals led to the creation fo the Millennium Development Goals which included the eradication of extreme poverty, malaria, HIV/Aids and other goals. He worked to meditate conflicts all over the globe. He also reformed the UN’s peacekeeping, human rights protection and counterterrorism efforts.


After his two terms at the United Nations he continued to serve for world peace. He acted as a special negotiator when violence broke out in Keyna in 2007. In 2012 he was named special representative in the Syrian Civil War. Later he headed an expert commission to determine a solution to violence against the Rohingya minority in Myanmar in 2017. He is also the founder and chairman fo the Kofi Annan Foundation and chairman of The Elders, an International organization founded by Nelson Mandela.


Beyond his incredible achievements worldwide, he is best remembered for his modesty and heart. When accepting the Nobel Peace Prize he stated, "This award belongs not just to me. I do not stand here alone. On behalf of my colleagues in every part of the United Nations, in every corner of the globe, who have devoted their lives – and in many instances risked or given their lives in the cause of peace…”


#Kofiannan, #unitednations, #greatdebaters


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