Kofi Annan, the former United Nations secretary-general and Nobel Peace Prize-winning Ghanaian diplomat died Saturday (Aug. 18) at age 80. Annan passed away peacefully Saturday (Aug. 18) after battling a “short illness,” his family said in a statement.
“Kofi Annan was a global statesman and deeply committed internationalist who fought throughout his life for a fairer and more peaceful wold,” the statement reads. “During his distinguished career and leadership of the United Nations he was an ardent champion of peace, sustainable development, human rights and the rule of law.”
In 1997, Annan became the first black African to lead the U.N. He won a second term in 2001, and retired as chief in 2006. After stepping down, Annan continued to work tirelessly to champion peace around the globe, through his Kofi Annan Foundation, and as chair of The Elders, the group founded by Nelson Mandela.
“Wherever there was suffering or need, he reached out and touched many people with his deep compassion and empathy,” the family statement added. “He will be greatly missed by so many around the world, as well as his staff at the foundation and his former colleagues in the United Nations system. He will remain in our hearts forever.”
Annan is survived by his wife Nane, and their children, all of whom were by his side in his “last days.” The family is asking for privacy during their time of mourning, and will make an announcement regarding funeral arrangements at a later date.
See below for touching tributes to Annan from President Barack Obama, the United Nations, and more.