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Kofi Annan: Key dates

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Kofi Annan

Key dates in the life of former UN chief and Nobel peace laureate Kofi Annan, the first black man to head the world body.

– April 8, 1938: Born in the Ghanaian city of Kumasi to an aristocratic family from the Fante tribe.

– 1962: After studying economics in Geneva he joined the World Health Organization and went to work in a number of other UN bodies including the UN refugee agency.

– 1972: Annan obtained a master’s degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). 

– 1993-96: He served deputy head of UN peacekeeping, during the Rwandan genocide and the war in Bosnia.

– January 1, 1997: He became UN secretary general, the first from within the organisation and the first from sub-Saharan Africa. He was re-elected for a second five-year term in June 2001.

– October 12, 2001: Annan and the United Nations were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

– 2005: He became embroiled in a corruption scandal over the UN oil-for-food programme in Iraq. He was later cleared of any wrongdoing. 

– 2007: He became a founding member of The Elders, a group of statesmen who speak out on global issues. He also set up the Kofi Annan Foundation which says it aims to promote better global governance and work for peace.

– February 2012: Annan is chosen by the United Nations and the Arab League to mediate in the Syrian war, but he throws in the towel five moths later.

– August 18, 2018: Annan dies in Switzerland after a short illness.

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