The Nobel Peace Prize winner’s family said he “passed away peacefully” this morning with his wife and three children by his side
Mr Annan, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for humanitarian work, died in hospital in Bern, Switzerland this morning with his wife and three children by his side.
The family confirmed the tragic news on his Twitter account, writing: “It is with immense sadness that the Annan family and the Kofi Annan Foundation announce that Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations and Nobel Peace Laureate, passed away peacefully on Saturday 18th August after a short illness,” read a post on his Twitter account.
“His wife Nane and their children Ama, Kojo and Nine were by his side during his last days.”
Mr Annan was the first black African to take up the role of the world’s top diplomat, serving two terms from 1997 to 2006.
He later served as the UN special envoy for Syria, leading efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict.
It is with immense sadness that the Annan family and the Kofi Annan Foundation announce that Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations and Nobel Peace Laureate, passed away peacefully on Saturday 18th August after a short illness…
In his family’s full post announcing his death they wrote: “Kofi Annan was a global statesman and a deeply committed internationalist who fought throughout his life for a fairer and more peaceful world.
“During his distinguished career and leadership of the United Nations he was an ardent champion of peace, sustainable development, human rights and the rule rule of law.
“After stepping down from the United Nations, he continued to work trielessly in the cause of peace through his chairmanship of the Kofi Annan Foundation as chair of The Elders, the group founded by Nelson Mandela.
“He was an inspiration to young and old alike.
“Kofi Annan was a son of Ghana and felt a special responsibility towards Africa.
“He was particularly committed to African development and deeply engaged in many initiatives, including his chairmanship of the Africa Progress Panel and his early leadership of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).
“Wherever there was a suffering or need, he reached out and touch many people with his deep compassion and empathy.
“He selflessly placed others first, radiating genuine kindness, warmth and brilliance in all he did.
“He will be greatly missed by so many around the world, as well as his staff at the foundation and his many former colleagues in the United Nations system.
“He will remain in our hearts forever.
“The family kindly requests privacy at this time of mourning.
In 2012 Mr Annan dramatically quite as UN special envoy for Syria after six months of failing to stop the civil war, saying: “The world is full of crazy people like me so don’t be surprised if Secretary General Ban Ki-moon can find someone who can do a better job than me.
“There may be other plans, other approaches that may work quite effectively.”
Annan tried repeatedly to make peace in Syria with his six point plan to mediate between the regime and the 17-month-old armed rebellion.
Praising his efforts, former UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon said at the time: “Kofi Annan deserves our profound admiration for the selfless way in which he has put his formidable skills and prestige to this most difficult and potentially thankless of assignments.”
Born in Kumasi, Ghana on 8 April 1938, he was the first secretary general to emerge from the ranks of United Nations staff.
Current UN Secretary General António Guterres said: “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. He rose through the ranks to lead the organization into the new millennium with matchless dignity and determination.
“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.
“My heartfelt condolences to Nane Annan, their beloved family, and all who mourn the loss of this proud son of Africa who became a global champion for peace and all humanity.”