Nobel Laureate Kofi Annan (1938-2018) was the founder and original chairperson of the Kofi Annan Foundation. He was born and raised in Ghana and died in Switzerland, where he lived in his last years.
Annan is probably most well known as the former Secretary General of the United Nations, a position he held from 1997 to 2006. He oversaw a widespread reform program within the organization, and tirelessly championed human rights. A notable achievement was his support for the establishment of the intergovernmental Peacebuilding Commission and the Human Rights Council. In 2001, the Nobel Peace Prize was jointly awarded to him and the United Nations. The Nobel Committee credited him with his achievement “‘in bringing new life to the organization’” (as cited on the Foundation’s website).
After leaving his UN post, along with establishing the Foundation, he served as head of the African Union’s Panel of Eminent African Personalities and as the UN–Arab League Joint Special Envoy for Syria. A staunch advocate for democracy and election-security, he chaired the Global Commission on Elections, Democracy and Security and the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, an impartial body working with the Myanmar government toward improved welfare for people in Rakhine state.
Along with his commitment to seeking peaceful resolutions to security issues, Annan promoted appropriate development. Among several development-related positions, he founded and chaired the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), which invests in smallholder farmers and promotes sustainable growth. He also chaired the African Progress Panel. Annan’s activity in higher education included service as Chancellor of the University of Ghana.