Letters to the Editor

Kofi Annan: Quiet but resolute diplomacy

Friday, September 07, 2018

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Dear Editor,

The world has lost another of its truly outstanding servants with a passion for dedicated service to the cause of freedom, peace and development.

Kofi Annan was a man of unique and yet many distinctions. He was the first, and to date the only, person who passed through the labyrinth of the United Nations and its many agencies to ascend to the post of secretary general by virtue of his brilliance at every working stage; and the first son of sub-Saharan Africa to become chief of that global institution.

The advent of the seventh secretary general to the pinnacle of global leadership coincided with the turn of the new century which demanded a creative effort to find new institutional directions in order for the United Nations to meet contemporary realities. Kofi Annan perceived the UN as a catalyst for change and an instrument for human progress.

His style was one of quiet but resolute diplomacy which would forestall conflict whenever possible and be ready to respond promptly and effectively whenever tension could not be defused or conflict averted.

In 2001, this humanitarian icon was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in his own right and the United Nations rightly applauded for its institutional role at a time of turbulent global upheaval.

Kofi Annan was a visionary who conceived the Millennium Development Goals as the engine for moving forward the international society in its entirety, recognising fully that the pistons of the developing world had to be

ignited for the advance of humankind.

With the end of the Cold War, Kofi Annan will be remembered for the tremendous energy he devoted in the search to build a more effective and efficient network of multilateral institutions which entailed new insights as to the linkages between terrorism, security, human rights, poverty and the environment.

We from the Caribbean who belong to small island states and countries restricted by the size of our economies will remember the Kofi Annan for the constant attention he paid to our severe resource constraints and vulnerability to a spate of natural disasters. His passionate advocacy was highlighted in the Barbados Programme of Action that the UN Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States adopted at the start of his incumbency.

For this urbane and astute secretary general, the concept of retirement meant primarily a transfer of his focus and attention from his New York headquarters to roam the continent of his descent and broker agreements which would foster harmony and economic growth.

As chairman of the Group of Elders, he sought to rid Africa of the dogmas of the past in order to embrace pragmatic progress in working democracies under the rule of law.

The rich legacy Kofi Annan bequeaths must inspire “a new generation of men and women to carry on the relentless struggle into a new era when the hopes and aspirations of their martyrs and heroes will be realised once and for all”.

Mine was the privilege of having known Kofi throughout the years and the honour of a productive working relationship which grew into a close brotherhood.

We are grateful to his widow Nane Annan, his children and family for having permitted him to share so much time and space with the world at large. Kofi Anan has now joined our noble ancestors and entered that realm of eternal rest and enjoys perpetual peace at last.

P J Patterson

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