We at International IDEA are deeply saddened at the unexpected passing of Kofi Annan (1938 – 2018) in the early hours of today Saturday 18 August 2018 in Geneva. We express our sincere condolences to his family.
Annan served as the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations (January 1997-December 2006). In 2001, he and the United Nations were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for “their work for a better organized and more peaceful world". A renowned global statesman and highly esteemed diplomat, his actions during his long years as a professional staff at the UN and eventually as its Secretary General helped to promote peace and sustainable development worldwide. Even after his tenure at the helm of the United Nations, he continued in his personal capacity and through his foundation headquartered in Geneva to be an important voice for dialogue, moderation, and accommodation in conflict situations around the world.
Annan was also a great and much valued stalwart of democracy and a supporter of the work of International IDEA. In September 2012, International IDEA and the Kofi Annan Foundation launched the Global Commission on Elections, Democracy and Security, which emphasized in its report that elections conducted with integrity not only promote democratic values and human rights, but also help to improve governance, fight corruption, empower minority groups and deliver services to the poor. In 2015, he delivered the keynote speech at International IDEA's 20th Anniversary celebration, pointing out that that even though the past 20 years have been a period of unprecedented democratization much work remains and new threats to democracy have formed. His interest in democracy and human rights ranged from the fields of electoral integrity and political dialogue to his most recent engagement on sensitizing policy makers about the threats and opportunities technology implies for democracy, as highlighted at his speech on the occasion of the launch of International IDEA’s Global State of Democracy publication in Geneva in November 2017.
Annan’s lifelong and single-minded devotion to the pursuit of peace with justice will always be remembered regardless of the capacity in which they might have met him or felt the import of his actions. At International IDEA, we will always remember and cherish his consistent reminder to us, delivered in his measured tone, that the strengthening democratic institutions and processes are a cornerstone of sustainable peacebuilding.
We shall sorely miss the wise counsel of this great man even as we join others to celebrate his life as an accomplished model of all that is good about the common humanity we share around the world.