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UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan : 

He serves the world

Kofi Annan was very much in the news during the last few weeks due to his visit to Sri Lanka. He was here to assess the damages caused by the tsunami and the reconstruction drive. He is always in the forefront whenever there is a conflict or disaster situation in the world.

He is in the news all the time because he holds a very important post in an organisation that has a big impact on global issues.

Kofi Annan is the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Annan who began his first term on January 1, 1997, was the first Secretary-General to be elected from the ranks of United Nations staff.

Annan was born in Kumasi, Ghana, on April 8, 1938. He studied at the University of Science and Technology in Kumasi and completed his undergraduate work in economics at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, U.S.A., in 1961.

From 1961 to 1962, he undertook graduate studies in economics at the 'Institut universitaire des hautes, tudes internationales' in Geneva. As a 1971-1972 Sloan Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Annan received a Master of Science degree in management.

He joined the United Nations in 1962 as an Administrative and Budget Officer with the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva. Since then, he has served with the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in Addis Ababa; the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF II) in Ismailia; the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Geneva; and, at UN Headquarters in New York, as Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources Management and Security Co-ordinator for the UN System (1987-1990) and Assistant Secretary-General for Programme Planning, Budget and Finance, and Controller (1990-1992).

In 1990, following the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq, he was asked by the Secretary-General, as a special assignment, to facilitate the repatriation of more than 900 international staff and citizens of Western countries from Iraq. He subsequently led the first United Nations team negotiating with Iraq on the sale of oil to fund purchases of humanitarian aid.

Before being appointed Secretary-General, he served as Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations (March 1992-February 1993) and then as Under-Secretary-General (March 1993-December 1996).

He has been able to negotiate and intervene in many delicate political situations. In April 2000, he issued a Millennium Report, entitled "We the Peoples: The Role of the United Nations in the 21st Century", calling on Member States to commit themselves to an action plan for ending poverty and inequality, improving education, reducing HIV/AIDS, safeguarding the environment and protecting people from conflict and violence.

The Report formed the basis of the Millennium Declaration adopted by Heads of State and Governments at the Millennium Summit, held at UN Headquarters in September 2000.

On June 29, 2001, acting on a recommendation by the Security Council, the General Assembly appointed him by acclamation to a second term of office, beginning on January 1, 2002 and ending on December 31, 2006.

On December 10, 2001, the Secretary-General and the United Nations received the Nobel Peace Prize.

The Secretary-General is fluent in English, French and several African languages. He is married to Nane Annan, of Sweden, a lawyer and artist who has a great interest in understanding the work of the United Nations in the field.

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