Kofi Annan: The Peacemaker To Remember
BSSB.BE nytimes.com 20.08.2018
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* Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Nobel Peace Prize winner Kofi Annan has died at age 80.
Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001, Mr. Annan was the first black African to head the United Nations, doing so for two successive five-year terms beginning in 1997 — a decade of turmoil that challenged that sprawling body and redefined its place in a changing world.
On his watch as what the Nobel committee called Africa’s foremost diplomat, Al Qaeda struck New York and Washington, the United States invaded Iraq, and Western policymakers turned their sights from the Cold War to globalization and the struggle with Islamic militancy.
- An emblem as much of the United Nations’ most ingrained flaws as of its grandest aspirations, Mr. Annan was the first secretary general to be chosen from among the international civil servants who make up the organization’s bureaucracy.
- He came to be likened in stature to Dag Hammarskjold, the second secretary general, who died in a mysterious plane crash in Africa in 1961. Mr. Annan was credited with revitalizing the United Nations’ institutions, shaping what he called a new “norm of humanitarian intervention,”particularly in places where there was no peace for traditional peacekeepers to keep.
- And, not least, he was lauded for persuading Washington to unblock arrears that had been withheld because of the profound misgivings about the United Nations voiced by American conservatives.
His tenure was rarely free of debate, however. In 1998, Mr. Annan traveled to Baghdad to negotiate directly with Saddam Hussein over the status of United Nations weapons inspections, winning a temporary respite in the long battle of wills with the West but raising questions about his decision to shake hands — and even smoke cigars — with that dictator.
In fact, Mr. Annan called the 2003 invasion of Iraq illegal and suffered an acute personal loss when a trusted and close associate, the Brazilian official Sérgio Vieira de Mello, his representative in Baghdad, died in a suicide truck bombing in August 2003 that struck the United Nations office there, killing many civilians.
The attack prompted complaints that Mr. Annan had not grasped the perils facing his subordinates after the ouster of Mr. Hussein.
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