MIL-OSI United Nations: Kofi Annan ‘a Moral Voice’ Whose Personal Advocacy Saved Millions of Lives, Secretary-General Says at General Assembly Memorial for Former UN Chief

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Source: United Nations 4

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks at the General Assembly memorial for Kofi Annan, in New York today:

Mrs. Nane Annan and members of the Annan family, we are deeply honoured and graced by your presence.

The United Nations and Kofi Annan were inseparable.  It is impossible to say where one ended and the other began.  And so, dear Annan family, we say to you today not only welcome, but welcome home.

To so many of us, Kofi Annan was more than just a dear friend.  He was family.  And I know you all feel in this room the profound sorrow that accompanies the sudden passing of such a beloved leader, mentor and guide.

Kofi Annan was uncommonly warm, accessible and of the people — but above all he was principled and forceful in battling for the values of the United Nations Charter.

In recent weeks, so many of his former colleagues have fondly recalled a workplace encounter or an unexpected phone call asking after their well-being, or that of their family.

He had a knack for assembling solid teams and winning their allegiance by giving them room to do their best.  He was charming and wise, kind and courageous.

But he also knew how to deliver the barb — in his masterly subtle way.  “I wonder if that’s the best approach,” he would muse.  Or perhaps he might say:  “I would want to be sure…”.  And sometimes, people were so captivated by his presence that they did not realize that they were being admonished!

I have an enormous debt of gratitude towards Kofi Annan. […] I would very probably not be here if he had not chosen me to become, 13 years ago, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.  That was probably his worst mistake.

At the funeral service in Accra last week, Kofi Annan was described as a “good and faithful servant”.  [He] was indeed good at everything he did across a life of service.  He would be the first to describe any achievements as the product of teamwork.

But let me mention just two of the so many examples of where his individual brilliance shone through:  His personal advocacy to mobilize a global response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic led to actions that saved millions of lives.  His efforts to articulate the Millennium Development Goals rallied the world behind poverty eradication and paved the way for the 2030 Agenda, today’s ambitious blueprint for a better world.

In a world of impunity and buck-passing, his willingness to own up to setbacks was also refreshing and a remarkable example.  And his moral voice led the world toward ground-breaking understandings about defending our common humanity.

Throughout his tenure Kofi Annan urged us never to be bystanders in life.  He summoned us all to act against bias, brutality and bloodshed.  He was a multilateralist through and through, a true UN-blue believer in a rules-based global order.  And, I must say, his loss cuts even deeper because we have never needed that faith and inspiration more.

Kofi Annan called the United Nations the “last best hope of humanity”.  He burned with the flame of human rights, dignity and justice.  We shall miss him every day.  But, we vow, here in the heart of his beloved home, that we will carry forward his torch now and forever more.

And in the exercise of my duties, he will always be my central inspiration and my deepest reference.

For information media. Not an official record.

MIL OSI United Nations News

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