Like millions around the world, the African Security Sector Network (ASSN) has received the news of the passing of Mr. Kofi Annan with shock, sadness and pain. The void that will be left by the loss of this great but humble statesman, diplomat and leader, is felt all the more sharply because we live in a period of history calling for vision, leadership and purpose to address the challenges of the twenty-first century: violent conflict, the denial and abuse of human rights, humanitarian disasters, the devastating effects of climate change, the ever-menacing prospect of nuclear proliferation, all of which affect most of all, those living in poverty and the margins of society – the people to whom Mr. Annan dedicated his entire working life, almost to his very last day, taking us all by surprise with his sudden departure.
In his service as Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Kofi Annan left an indelible mark on the world. His achievements and contributions are well-recorded, not least through his prolific reports, speeches and other writings. He was forever seized with the question of how to make the UN, including the Security Council for whose reform he advocated, a more efficient and representative body. His comprehensive policy agenda encapsulated in his 2005 Report ‘In Larger Freedom’ makes brave recommendations on a host of issues on the agenda of the UN. Some of these have seen the light of day, whilst others remain the proverbial spear for others to pick up.
We salute Mr. Annan for providing us with the many beacons of wisdom he has left us. He was not afraid to be on the front line, to go to where his excellent skills and sheer capacity for human empathy, or dealing with difficult conflicts, were most needed. Long after his retirement, he continued to inspire us all, tirelessly making himself available to serve the international community in a variety of ways.
The youth around the world have also lost an inspiring, motivating and humble man. They will always recall when Kofi Annan called on the young generation to put its remarkable energy, insight and passion in the service of reconciliation and peace, stating that we are never too young to lead and never too old to learn.
For the African Security Sector Network (ASSN), Mr. Kofi Annan was both an inspiration and an example. During his tenure as Secretary General, he called for and put in place the necessary framework for the strengthening of cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union. The vision of the ASSN is the development of African security sector institutions that are democratically governed, people-centred, well-managed, accountable and effective in supporting and sustaining human security. We take courage and inspiration that Mr. Annan espoused a similar vision for global security, and use this opportunity to redouble our commitment to this goal.
As Africans, we salute the overflowing humanism that Mr. Annan has always shown in his office and which has undeniably contributed, along with his other eminent qualities, to earning him the confidence of leaders throughout the world, through two consecutive terms as Secretary General of the UN. Mr. Annan was able to convey, wherever he went, this deep humanism along with other universal values, such as affability, solidarity and love, despite the often divergent agendas that unfortunately tend to guide the conduct of our contemporary world. These cardinal values he continued to share with the world, after his mandate, through the activities of his Foundation, the Elders, the African Progress Panel, and the numerous requests he honoured to share his experience and knowledge.
We note that Ghana has declared a week of national mourning. All of Africa and indeed, the whole world will be weeping with you. We know that Mr Annan’s love for his country ran deep, as did his people’s love for him. To the family of Mr. Kofi Annan, especially his wife Mrs Nane Maria Annan and their children, as well as the Kofi Annan Foundation, you are in our prayers in this time of mourning. We hope you can find comfort in knowing that the legacy and memory of Mr. Annan will be forever etched in history. We also join the world in expressing our sadness to the people of Ghana on this loss of their Elder statesman and wish them courage as they pause to reflect on his life.
Rest in eternal peace Mr Kofi Annan. We will cherish your memory forever.
NIAGALE BAGAYOKO (PhD)
AFRICAN SECURITY SECTOR NETWORK (ASSN)