Kofi Annan’s Legacy of Alleviating Global Poverty

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SEATTLE — Kofi Annan, the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations, passed away on August 18, 2018. His contribution to alleviating global poverty and his impact on issues of peacekeeping, injustice and hunger extended well beyond what was conventionally regarded as the U.N. mandate. Thus, Kofi Annan’s legacy endures.

Global Health Initiatives

Throughout his career with the U.N., Annan worked on alleviating HIV/AIDS in many parts of the world, especially Africa. Under his leadership, in 2001 the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution which identified AIDS as a threat to global security. Annan mobilized people to spread awareness and increase funding for HIV/AIDS prevention by launching the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. This was successful in garnering the support of people globally; the Global Fund is credited with having saved 22 million lives worldwide. Annan directed efforts towards underprivileged communities to improve access to medication, raise education levels and fund scientific research.

Responsibility to Protect Doctrine

After the atrocities committed in Rwanda and Srebrenica in the 1990s and failure of the United Nations to respond effectively, Annan led the world in accepting the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine. This doctrine emphasizes the duty of the state to prioritize the protection of civilians from crimes against humanity. Each state, under this doctrine, has to protect its own population from atrocious crimes, and if it fails to do so, the international community must intervene. Annan’s endorsement of this doctrine has been critical in its resolution. Prior to the R2P, the United Nations defined sovereignty as a protection of the state from interference from outside influences; the redefining of this notion of sovereignty is useful in preventing conflicts and holds the world accountable in protecting civilians.

Corporate Sustainability Initiatives

Annan launched the U.N. Global Compact Program in 1999 to enhance human rights, labor standards, environmental protection and anti-corruption efforts. This program was to foster cooperation between the private and public sector. The U.N. Global Compact Initiative has been successful in mobilizing business leaders and stakeholders, and is the largest corporate sustainability initiative in the world. The first Global Compact Leaders Summit was led by Annan in New York in 2004, and allowed businesses, governments and civil organizations to communicate with one another.

Peacekeeping Initiatives Part of Kofi Annan’s Legacy

After serving his term at the U.N., Annan established a nonprofit organization which strives to enhance peace through mediating conflict, enhancing development and advancing human rights. The foundation uses methods of advocacy and mediation to resolve conflicts worldwide. He also established the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Center in Ghana to train the military, civilians and police in effective peacekeeping and conflict management.

Though Kofi Annan’s career did not always yield positive results, it is useful, in the wake of his death, to review his efforts in understanding and resolving complex issues affecting the world. During his time with the United Nations, he supported the advancement of human rights, cooperation between different sectors and the fulfillment of the Millennium Development Goals. His dedication to spreading peace and prosperity earned him a Nobel Peace Prize in 2001, reflecting his commitment to human rights, global health and peace. Kofi Annan’s legacy cannot be measured merely by his achievements, but also by his efforts and ideals, as a man striving for a peaceful world.

Isha Kakar
Photo: Flickr

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