United Nations History/Kofi Annan

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Kofi Atta Annan (born April 8, 1938) is a Ghanaian diplomat who served as the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations from January 1 1997 to January 1 2007, serving two five-year terms. Annan was the co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001.

Secretary-General of the United Nations edit


On December 13 1996, Annan was recommended by the United Nations Security Council to be Secretary-General,[1] and was confirmed four days later by vote of the General Assembly.[2] Annan took the oath of office without delay, starting his first term as Secretary-General on January 1 1997. Annan replaced outgoing Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali of Egypt, becoming the first person from a black African nation to serve as Secretary-General.

Annan's tenure as Secretary-General was renewed on January 1, 2002, in an unusual deviation from informal policy. The office usually rotates among the continents, with two terms each; since Annan's predecessor Boutros-Ghali was also an African, Annan normally would have served only one term and Annan's re-appointment indicated his unusual popularity.

Mark Malloch Brown succeeded Louise Frechette as Annan's Deputy Secretary-General in April 2004.

In April 2001, he issued a five-point "Call to Action" to address the HIV/AIDS pandemic. As Secretary-General, Annan saw this pandemic as a "personal priority" and proposed the establishment of a Global AIDS and Health Fund in an attempt to stimulate the increased spending needed to help developing countries confront the HIV/AIDS crisis.

On December 10, 2001, Annan and the United Nations were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, "for their work for a better organized and more peaceful world".

During the buildup to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Annan called on the United States and the United Kingdom not to invade without the support of the United Nations. In a September 2004 interview on the BBC, Annan was asked about the legal authority for the invasion, and responded, "from our point of view, from the Charter point of view it was illegal."[3][4]

Annan supported sending a UN peacekeeping mission to Darfur, Sudan, and worked with the government of Sudan to accept a transfer of power from the African Union peacekeeping mission to a UN one. Annan also worked with several Arab and Muslim countries on women's rights and other topics. Nuala O'Loan, the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland recently stated, "I imagine that if Kofi Annan saw somebody abusing human rights he would kick them in the knee".

Beginning in 1998 Annan convened an annual UN Security Council Retreat with 15 States representatives of the Council at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF) Conference Center at the Rockefeller family estate at Pocantico, which was sponsored by both the RBF and the UN.[5] Along with his wife he also attended the Playhouse at the family estate on the occasion of Brooke Astor's 100th birthday celebration (see Kykuit).[6] He is a strong supporter and guest of the family's Asia Society in New York.[7]

UN controversies during Annan's tenure edit

Lubbers sexual harassment investigation edit

In June 2004, Annan was given a copy of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) report on the complaint of sexual harassment, abuse of authority, and retaliation against Ruud Lubbers, UN High Commissioner for Refugees. The report also discussed allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct against Werner Blatter, Director of UNHCR Personnel by a long-serving staff member. The investigation report found Ruud Lubbers guilty of sexual harassment and no mention was made publicly of the other charge against a senior official or the two subsequent complaints she filed later that year. In the course of the official investigation, Lubbers wrote a letter that some speculate was a threat to the female worker who had brought the charges of misconduct.[8] However, on July 15, 2004, Lubbers was declared innocent by Kofi Annan [citation needed]. His decision only lasted until November when OIOS issued its annual report to the UN General Assembly noting it has found Lubbers guilty. Widely reported in the media, these events served to weaken Annan's position.

On November 17, 2004, Annan accepted a report clearing UN Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services Dileep Nair of graft and sexual harassment charges — charges which some viewed as retaliation against Nair for supporting the complainant in the Lubbers affair. However, clearance was not viewed favorably by some UN staff in New York, leading to extensive debate on November 19. In February 2005, Lubbers resigned as head of the UN refugee agency. [1]

Administration of the Oil-for-Food Program edit

In December 2004, reports surfaced that the Secretary-General's son Kojo received payments from the Swiss company Cotecna Inspection SA, which won a lucrative contract under the UN Oil-for-Food Program. Kofi Annan called for an investigation into this matter.

The Independent Inquiry Committee into The United Nations Oil-for-Food Program was appointed by Annan[9] and led by former US Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker;[10] Volcker has strong ideological ties to the UN as director of the United Nations Association of the United States of America. In his first interview with the Inquiry Committee, Annan denied having had a meeting with Cotecna. Later in the inquiry he recalled that he had met with Cotecna's chief executive Elie-Georges Massey twice. In a final report issued on October 27, the committee found insufficient evidence to indict Kofi Annan on any illegal actions, but did find fault with Mr. Benan Sevan, a Cypriot national who had worked for the UN for about 40 years. Appointed to his Oil-For-Food role by Kofi Annan, Mr. Sevan repeatedly asked Iraqis for allocations of oil to the African Middle East Petroleum Company. Sevan's behavior was "ethically improper", Volker said to reporters. Sevan for his part, has repeatedly denied the charges and argues that he is being made a "scapegoat". The Volker report was also highly critical of the UN management structure and the Security Council oversight and strongly recommended a new position of Chief Operating Officer to handle the fiscal and administrative responsibilities which currently fall to the Secretary General's office. The report listed the companies, both Western and Middle Eastern, who illegally benefited from the program.

[2] [3].

Conflict between the United States and the United Nations edit

Kofi Annan supported his deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown, Mark Malloch Brown, who openly criticized segments of the United States media in a speech on June 6, 2006: "But [the UN's role in peacekeeping] is not well known or understood, in part because much of the public discourse that reaches the US heartland has been largely abandoned to its loudest detractors such as Rush Limbaugh and Fox News. The prevailing practice of seeking to use the UN almost by stealth as a diplomatic tool while failing to stand up for it against its domestic critics is simply not sustainable…. You will lose the UN one way or another."[11] The U.S. ambassador John R. Bolton was reported to have told Annan on the phone: "I've known you since 1989 and I'm telling you this is the worst mistake by a senior UN official that I have seen in that entire time."[12] At the end of Kofi Annan's tenure as Secretary General, Bolton was asked to sum up Annan's years at the UN. He responded simply: "I'll pass."[4]

Annan's recommendations for UN reform edit

After years of research, Annan presented a progress report, In Larger Freedom, to the UN General Assembly, on March 21, 2005. Annan recommended Security Council expansion and a host of other UN reforms.[13]

On 31 January, 2006, Kofi Annan outlined his vision for a comprehensive and extensive reform of the UN in a policy speech to the United Nations Association UK. The speech, delivered at Central Hall, Westminster, also marked the 60th Anniversary of the first meetings of the UN General Assembly and UN Security Council.[14]

On March 7, 2006, he presented to the General Assembly his proposals for a fundamental overhaul of the United Nations Secretariat. The reform report is entitled: "Investing in the United Nations, For a Stronger Organization Worldwide".[15]

On March 30, 2006, he presented to the General Assembly his analysis and recommendations for updating the entire work programme of the United Nations Secretariat over the last 60 years. The report is entitled: "Mandating and Delivering: Analysis and Recommendations to Facilitate the Review of Mandates".[16]

Farewell addresses edit

On September 19, 2006, Annan gave a farewell address to world leaders gathered at the UN headquarters in New York, in anticipation of his retirement on December 31. In the speech he outlined three major problems of "an unjust world economy, world disorder, and widespread contempt for human rights and the rule of law", which he believes "have not resolved, but sharpened" during his time as Secretary-General. He also pointed to violence in Africa, and the Arab-Israeli conflict as two major issues warranting attention.[17]

On December 11 2006, in his final speech as Secretary-General, delivered at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library in Independence, Missouri, Annan recalled Truman's leadership in the founding of the United Nations. He called for the United States to return to President Truman's multilateralist foreign policies, and to follow Truman's credo that "the responsibility of the great states is to serve and not dominate the peoples of the world". He also said that the United States must maintain its commitment to human rights, "including in the struggle against terrorism."[18][19]

References edit

  • Annan, Kofi: In Larger Freedom, 21 March 2005.
  • Jan Tromp, Relatie Washington en VN is danig verziekt (De Volkskrant, zaterdag 10 juni 2006) 6.

Footnotes edit

  1. United Nations (1996-12-13). "BIO/3051 - Kofi Annan of Ghana recommended by Security Council for appointment as Secretary-General of United Nations". Press release. http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/1996/19961213.bio3051.html. Retrieved 2006-12-12. 
  2. United Nations (1996-12-17). "GA/9208 - General Assembly appoints Kofi Annan of Ghana as seventh Secretary-General". Press release. http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/1996/19961217.ga9208.html. Retrieved 2006-12-12. 
  3. "Iraq war illegal, says Annan". BBC News (BBC). 2004-09-16. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3661134.stm. Retrieved 2006-12-12. "When pressed on whether he viewed the invasion of Iraq as illegal, he said: "Yes, if you wish. I have indicated it was not in conformity with the UN charter from our point of view, from the charter point of view, it was illegal."" 
  4. "Excerpts: Annan interview". BBC News (BBC). 2004-09-16. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3661640.stm. Retrieved 2006-12-12. 
  5. "Pocantico Conferences 2005". Rockefeller Brothers Fund website. Retrieved 2006-12-12.
  6. Kuczynski, Alex (2002-04-01). "Grandest Of Dames Turns 100 in Style" (fee required). New York Times: p. B3. http://select.nytimes.com/search/restricted/article?res=F10E11FC3E5E0C728CDDAD0894DA404482. Retrieved 2006-12-12. 
  7. Boxer, Tim (April 2006). "Society’s 50th Milestone Honors Rockefellers". 15 Minutes Magazine. http://www.15minutesmagazine.com/archives/Issue_74/front_page.htm. Retrieved 2006-12-12. 
  8. "UN report slams Lubbers for 'regular sexual harassment'". Expatica. 2005-02-18. http://www.expatica.com/source/site_article.asp?subchannel_id=1&story_id=17094&name=UN+report+slams+Lubbers+over+sexual+harassment. Retrieved 2006-12-12. 
  9. "About the Committee". Independent Inquiry Committee into The United Nations Oil-for-Food Programme website. Retrieved 2006-12-12.
  10. "Members". Independent Inquiry Committee into The United Nations Oil-for-Food Programme website. Retrieved 2006-12-12.
  11. Brown, Mark Malloch (2006-06-06). "UN needs US, US needs UN to face challenges -- HIV/AIDS, SUDAN -- that defy national solutions, says Deputy Secretary-General in New York address". United Nations website. United Nations. Retrieved 2006-12-12.
  12. "Speech by U. N. Leader Draws Angry Response From US". Fox News. 2006-06-07. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,198535,00.html. Retrieved 2006-12-12. 
  13. "In Larger Freedom". United Nations website. Archived from the original on 2012-09-18. Retrieved 2006-12-12.
  14. "Annan addresses UNA-UK in London". United Nations website. Retrieved 2007-08-05.
  15. "Reforming the United Nations". United Nations website. Retrieved 2006-12-12.
  16. "Reforming the United Nations, Mandate Review". United Nations website. Archived from the original on 2013-01-13. Retrieved 2006-12-12.
  17. Leopold, Evelyn (2006-09-16). "UN's Annan depicts polarized world in farewell speech". Reuters. http://today.reuters.com/news/articlenews.aspx?type=worldNews&storyID=2006-09-19T173615Z_01_N19388437_RTRUKOC_0_US-UN-ASSEMBLY-ANNAN.xml&archived=False&src=091906_1412_ARTICLE_PROMO_also_on_reuters. Retrieved 2006-12-12. 
  18. "Annan chides US in final speech". BBC News (BBC). 2006-12-11. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6169669.stm. Retrieved 2006-12-11. 
  19. Annan, Kofi (2006-12-11). "Independence, Missouri, 11 December 2006 - Secretary-General's address at the Truman Presidential Museum and Library followed by Questions and Answers". United Nations website. United Nations. Retrieved 2006-12-11.