UN High Commissioner for Human Rights pays tribute to Kofi Annan

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan speaks at a ceremonial ringing of the Peace Bell during the 61st General Assembly of the United Nations in New York September 21, 2006. REUTERS/Jeff Zelevansky/Files

UNITED Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein has paid tribute to former UN secretary general Nobel Peace Prize laureate Kofi Annan on his passing at the weekend.

Annan died on Saturday at the age of 80 after decades of what his foundation said was championing efforts to end protracted conflicts in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

In a statement, Mr Ra’ad al-Hussein said he was grief-stricken over Annan’s death.

“Kofi was humanity’s best example, the epitome, of human decency and grace. In a world now filled with leaders who are anything but that, our loss, the world’s loss becomes even more painful,” he said in his tribute.

“He was a friend to thousands and a leader of millions. To me — like to so many in the UN, he was my immediate boss when I was thirty-one years of age — and what a boss! He was always courageous, direct in speech, but never discourteous — never discourteous.

“Later, when I was an ambassador at the UN he inspired us, by being a dynamic and charismatic leader in his capacity as Secretary-General.

“And most of all, he was a friend and counsel — to me and to so many others. Whenever — as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, I felt isolated and alone politically (which, in the last four years, was often) I would go for long walks with him around Geneva — and listen.”

Mr al-Hussein said there were some human beings who would seem irreplaceable to us, rare human beings, adding: “Kofi Annan is high among them.”

“Goodbye my dear friend … goodbye Kofi.”

In Geneva, according to Reuters, the Kofi Annan Foundation announced his peaceful death after a short undisclosed illness with “immense sadness”, saying he was surrounded in his last days by his second wife Nane and children Ama, Kojo and Nina.

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