Former Prime Minister, Tony Blair has led tributes to the former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, describing him as a “true statesman.”
During his time as secretary general, Mr Annan clashed with Mr Blair over the 2003 invasion of Iraq by US and British forces, which he denounced as illegal.
However the former prime minister whose time in No 10 coincided closely with Mr Annan’s time in office said their differences had not prevented them remaining good friends.
“I’m shocked and distressed to hear the news about Kofi. He was a good friend whom I saw only weeks ago,” Mr Blair said in a statement.
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Theresa May said that she was sad to learn of Mr Annan’s death and that her thoughts were with his family.
May tweeted; “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. My thoughts and condolences are with his family.”
Indian Ministers tweet
Rashtrapati Bhavan tweeted on behalf of the President Ram Nath Kovind, “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.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, “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.
“Kofi Annan’s significant contribution to the MDGs will always be remembered. My thoughts are with his family and admirers in this hour of grief. May his soul rest in peace.”
Former Australia Prime Minister Kevin Rudd tweeted, “The world has lost a great leader today. Kofi initiated the Millennium Development Goals. He did everything possible to prevent the Iraq War. He spoke for our common humanity. I will miss him too as a dear friend, colleague and source of encouragement.”
Fighting poverty and injustice
Former Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, who is currently the UN special envoy for global education said Mr Annan had fought throughout his life against poverty and injustice.
“Kofi Annan was a leader of leaders, a wonderful humanitarian and the most compassionate and caring of individuals…Personally modest and always softly spoken, he was a titan amongst world statesman who saw wrong and righted it and who witnessed evil and always fought it…Even in his later years he fought against poverty, injustice and war with all the vigour of youth and I had the privilege of working with him in recent times.”
“Deeply shocked to learn of the passing of my friend and mentor Kofi Annan. 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,” the Congress leader and former Undersecretary-General Shashi Tharoor tweeted.
He said;“Kofi Annan was a proud son of Africa, a great admirer of India, a voice of the developing world, a paragon of internationalism and an exemplar of humanity. The UN was fortunate to have been led by him at a pivotal moment in world history. He remains one of its greatest Secretaries-General.”
Tharoor 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 organisation 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 us.”
The Elders tributes
The Elders, an independent group of global leaders working for peace and human rights, say they are “shocked and deeply saddened by the death of their colleague and chair Kofi Annan.”
In a statement, The Elders call the former U.N. secretary-general and Nobel Peace Prize winner “a voice of great authority and wisdom in public and private.”
The organisation says Annan’s most recent work was in visits to South Africa and Zimbabwe, where the country was preparing for a historic presidential election.
“His quiet advice on how best to defuse impending crises was in constant demand from all corners of the globe, in particular from Africa,” the Deputy chair Gro Harlem Brundtland said.
West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee tweeted, “Today we mourn the passing away of Kofi Annan. He was an able diplomat who served as UN Secretary-General. His contribution to peace won him the Nobel Prize in 2001. My heartfelt condolences to his family and his admirers around the world.”
Former Secretary General of Amnesty International, Salil Shetty tweeted, “At a time when there are very few leaders of global stature and integrity, Kofi’s death is a huge loss to #Africa and the world. And as a friend and mentor to me personally, he is simply irreplaceable.”
Actor George Takei tweeted, “Former U.N. Secretary and Nobel Peace Prize winner Kofi Annan has passed at age 80. The world needs visionaries of peace more than ever, and his life is an example of the possible. Thank you for your service to us all, sir. Rest now, in peace.”
Kofi Annan passed away peacefully on Saturday 18th August after a short illness, at the age of 80.
He was born into an aristocratic family in Ghana on April 8, 1938.
He attended a number of schools and colleges, studying international relations in the United States and Switzerland, and became an international civil servant working for the United Nations in 1962.
He went on to become the U.N. secretary-general and later a special envoy to Syria.