Kofi Annan: a kind statesman and a gifted diplomat

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As secretary general of the UN, he dared to ruffle feathers as he defended the body and its work

Kofi Annan’s decade-long tenure as UN secretary general was memorable for the multiple international crises on his watch and the extraordinary calm he exuded while trying to deal with their consequences – both for the world and a body that rarely managed to perform as well as its founding fathers had intended.

Like previous and subsequent UN chiefs, the mild-mannered Ghanaian quickly discovered that the tasks he had to carry out felt simultaneously unachievable and thankless because of the constant squabbling and conflicting interests of member states, especially the five veto-wielding permanent members of the security council.

Related: Kofi Annan, former UN secretary general, dies

Related: Kofi Annan – in pictures

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