Kofi Annan was the United Nations: An Op-ed by UN Secretary General António Guterres

New York, 18 September 2018 – Since the shock of former United Nations’ Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s death, I have been reflecting on what made him so special.

To my mind, it is simply this: Kofi Annan was both one-of-a-kind and one of us.

António Guterres signs a book of condolences during a ceremony honouring the memory and legacy of Kofi Annan

He was an exceptional global leader — and he was also someone virtually anyone in the world could see themselves in: those on the far reaches of poverty, conflict and despair who found in him an ally; the junior UN staffer following in his footsteps; the young person to whom he said until his dying breath “always remember, you are never too young to lead — and we are never too old to learn.”

Like few in our time, Kofi Annan could bring people together, put them at ease, and unite them towards a common goal for our common humanity. Read further.