Kofi Annan: a complicated legacy of impressive achievements, and some profound failures

Kofi Annan (80) was an important historical figure who played a critical role in many key events of the 1990s and 2000s. His death is therefore an opportunity to both celebrate his life and to begin honestly assessing his contributions to the world.

The Ghanaian diplomat’s legacy is complicated. He served as both head of the United Nations peacekeeping and as Secretary General of the UN. His tenure in these high offices – from 1992 to 2006 – were marked by great human tragedies as well as episodes of progress. His role in these events raises difficult questions about individual responsibility and the role of international organisations and their leaders in creating a more peaceful and just world.
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Kofi Annan understood the limits of diplomacy, as well as why it’s important never to give up

Kofi Annan served as United Nations Secretary-General during a pivotal decade in modern world history – from 1997 to 2006. I would argue that his most important legacy was to focus the UN more on preventing and resolving deadly conflict within its sovereign members, while still trying to maintain peace and security among them.

How he developed and pursued ways and means to do this began much earlier in his UN career and persisted until his untimely death last week.
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