BEIRUT, LEBANON (4:15 P.M.) – Former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan died in Switzerland aged 80, following a brief illness, Saturday.
Annan became the first black African secretary-general of the UN, serving in the role from 1997 to 2006. He was described as a “global statesman and deeply committed internationalist” in a statement published on Twitter by his foundation.
Annan was born in Kumasi, Ghana, in 1938 into a family descended from tribal chiefs. He attended a leading boarding school in Ghana and began a course at the Kumasi College of Science and Technology, before winning a Ford Foundation scholarship to study economics in the US.
He then went on to attend a graduate programme in Geneva, Switzerland, after which he joined the World Health Organisation, a part of the United Nations.
Annan held several posts within the UN before becoming the High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva, a role he stayed in for seven years.
In 1997, he was appointed Secretary-General, where he served two terms. Thanks to his work in this position, the Noble Peace Prize was jointly awarded to Annan and the UN in 2001.
The UN Migration Agency paid tribute to Annan on Twitter, describing him as “a great man, a leader and a visionary. A life well lived. A life worth celebrating.”