Condolences and tributes poured in from leaders across the world on Saturday following the death of former United Nations Secretary General and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Kofi Annan. While Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the world has lost the "conscience keeper of international peace and security", the UN hailed him as the “guiding force for good” and “the epitome of human decency and grace”. Annan, one of the world’s most celebrated diplomats and a charismatic symbol of the United Nations who rose through its ranks to become the first black African secretary-general, passed away on Saturday morning after a brief illness. He was 80.
Current UN chief Antonio Guterres expressed deep sadness at the loss, describing his predecessor as “a guiding force for good”.
“Kofi Annan was a guiding force for good. It is with profound sadness that I learned of his passing. In many ways, Kofi Annan was the United Nations. 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 of us,” Guterres said in a statement.
UN ‘High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said he was grief-stricken over Annan’s death.
“Kofi was humanity’s best example, the epitome of human decency and grace. In a world now filled with leaders who are anything but that, our loss, the world’s loss becomes even more painful,” Hussein said.
Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, in a series of tweets, condoled the sad demise and declared a week of mourning, saying the national flag will fly at half-mast across the country and in the country’s diplomatic missions worldwide in honour of Kofi Annan. (will embed tweets)
I have directed that, in his honour, Ghana’s national flag will fly at half-mast across the country and in all of Ghana’s diplomatic missions across the world, from Monday, 20th August, 2018, for one week.
Rest in perfect peace, Kofi. You have earned it. God bless. 7/7— Nana Akufo-Addo (@NAkufoAddo) August 18, 2018
British Prime Minister Theresa May said her ‘thoughts and condolences are with his family’ and said Kofi Annan had left a better place than the one he was born into.
“A great leader and reformer of the UN, he made a huge contribution to making the world he has left a better place than the one he was born into,” Theresa wrote on Twitter.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said he admired Annan’s wisdom and courage and added that his memory will live forever in the hearts of Russians.
“I sincerely admired his wisdom and courage, his ability to make informed decisions even in the most complex, critical situations. His memory will live forever in the hearts of Russians,” Putin said.
Shocked and distressed over the news, Former UK prime minister Tony Blair said Kofi Annan was a great diplomat, a true statesman and a wonderful colleague.
TB: I’m shocked and distressed to hear the news about Kofi. He was a good friend whom I saw only weeks ago. Kofi Annan was a great diplomat, a true statesman and a wonderful colleague who was widely respected and will be greatly missed. My deepest sympathy to Nane and his family— Tony Blair Institute (@InstituteGC) August 18, 2018
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, condoling the death of Annan, said the world had lost not only a great African diplomat and humanitarian but also a conscience keeper of international peace and security.
We express our profound sorrow at the passing away of Nobel Laureate and former UNSG Mr. Kofi Annan. The world has lost not only a great African diplomat and humanitarian but also a conscience keeper of international peace and security.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 18, 2018
President Ram Nath Kovind conveyed his condolence to Annan’s family and the UN community.
“Sorry to learn of the passing of former Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan. My condolences to his family and to the UN community,” Kovind tweeted.
Vice president M Venkaiah Naidu described Annan as a true champion of Justice and Peace.
“Deeply saddened by the demise of Mr. Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary General and a Nobel Laureate. He was a true champion of Justice and Peace. He made an outstanding contribution for world harmony. May his soul rest in Peace,” he tweeted.
Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, who served as Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations during Kofi Annan’s leadership, also expressed his grief on passing away of his ‘elder brother and mentor’.
“Deeply shocked to learn of the passing of my friend & mentor #KofiAnnan. The last time we spoke he had accepted my invitation to come to Kerala in 2022 to celebrate his “thousand moons”. He was so fit I had no doubt he would go on well past that date. I have lost an elder brother,” Tharoor tweeted.
Kofi Annan served as the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations from January 1997 to December 2006.
(with PTI inputs)