UN remembers former chief Kofi Annan

By Umar Farooq

WASHINGTON (AA) – UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres led a ceremony in New York Wednesday to pay tribute to the former UN chief Kofi Annan, who passed away at the age of 80 on Saturday.

Annan, a Ghanian citizen, served as UN secretary-general from 1996 to 2007, first black person holding that post, and received Nobel Peace Prize in 2001.

"His most defining features were his humanity and solidarity with those in need. He put people at the center of the work of the United Nations, and was able to turn compassion into action across the UN system," Guterres said at the wreath laying ceremony, with staff members.

A diplomat with a calm demeanor, Annan was known for his many achievements during his time in charge of the UN, including adopting the Millenium Development Goals as well as establishing the International Criminal Court.

The former UN chief was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize alongside the UN, for their work to promote peace throughout the world as well as Annan's work to stop the spread of HIV in Africa.

He was also commemorated by Turkey for his strong effort and plan during his time in 2014 on the Cyprus issue.

However, the leader also faced criticisms for the UN's failure to intervene and prevent the genocides that took place in Rwanda and Srebrenica in the 1990s.

"Kofi Annan faced up to the grave errors made by the United Nations in the 1990s – in its response to the Rwanda Genocide and the Srebrenica killings – by shining a light inside the UN. The reports he commissioned aimed to make sure such terrible mistakes are never repeated, and set the international community on a new course in its response to mass atrocities," Guterres said.

The UN flag flew at half-mast for the three days following the death of Annan, as members of the UN have been sending their condolences to his family.