Celebrating the Life and Mourning the Loss of Kofi Annan

Dear UNA Members, Leaders, and Advocates:

If you are like me, you turned on the TV last weekend to discover that former Secretary-General Kofi Annan had passed away. We at UNA-USA are devastated by his loss, but also grateful for, and reminded of, all that he did to make the UN a force for peace and human dignity throughout his life. Secretary-General Guterres said in a statement this morning: “In many ways, Kofi Annan was the United Nations. He rose through the ranks to lead the organization into the new millennium with matchless dignity and determination”.

Kofi was also a true friend of UNA-USA. He first came to the US as a young student at Macalester College and developed a lifelong bond with the community of St. Paul and with Americans of all backgrounds. As a rising star in the UN system, and ultimately as Secretary-General, he was a frequent speaker and guest at UNA-USA events across the country.

He had a deep appreciation for the enduring importance of UNA-USA’s advocacy mission and helped guide our merger with the UN Foundation in 2011 as a member of the foundation’s board of directors. In her statement today, UN Foundation President and CEO, Kathy Calvin, noted:  “Kofi led the United Nations into the modern era and shaped the best of what it stands for today. He insisted on holding the UN to the highest standards and was relentless when it fell short.  We pay tribute to his tireless efforts to fight for peace, justice and human dignity. He believed that anyone could take a stand, make a difference, and help create a better world for all – especially women and young people – and he always took time and effort to listen to those who too often went unheard. In his own story, he showed us all how a life well-lived could be a powerful force for good. There was not a part of the world he left untouched.”

Kofi appreciated the critical importance of the UN to all people everywhere and lived a life designed to advance it. He counted us all as allies in his cause. I’m stunned by his loss, but I also feel honored to be part of a movement of Americans so aligned with the ideals that animated his life and so essential for the challenges facing our world.


Chris Whatley, Executive Director, UNA-USA

P.S. Here are some memorable moments with Kofi Annan that I wanted to share with you: