Kofi Annan

Kofi
Annan
1938

Ghanaian Diplomat, Secretary-General of the United Nations

Author Quotes

Gender equality is more than a goal in itself. It is a precondition for meeting the challenge of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development and building good governance.

If the United Nations does not attempt to chart a course for the world's people in the first decades of the new millennium, who will?

Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope. It is a tool for daily life in modern society. It is a bulwark against poverty, and a building block of development, an essential complement to investments in roads, dams, clinics and factories. Literacy is a platform for democratization, and a vehicle for the promotion of cultural and national identity. Especially for girls and women, it is an agent of family health and nutrition. For everyone, everywhere, literacy is, along with education in general, a basic human right.... Literacy is, finally, the road to human progress and the means through which every man, woman and child can realize his or her full potential.

The international community . . . allows nearly 3 billion people?almost half of all humanity?to subsist on $2 or less a day in a world of unprecedented wealth.

Today I want to talk particularly about five lessons I have learnt in the last 10 years, during which I have had the difficult but exhilarating role of Secretary General.

We need to keep hope alive and strive to do better.

Governments must be accountable for their actions in the international arena, as well as in the domestic one. ? Today, the actions of one State can often have a decisive effect on the lives of people in other States. So does it not owe some account to those other States and their citizens, as well as to its own? I believe it does.

If we can come up with innovations and train young people to take on new jobs, and if we can switch to clean energy, I think we have the capacity to build this world not dependent on fossil-fuel. I think it will happen, and it won't destroy economy.

Many African leaders refuse to send their troops on peace keeping missions abroad because they probably need their armies to intimidate their own populations.

The lesson of the past century has been that where the dignity of the individual has been trampled or threatened ? where citizens have not enjoyed the basic right to choose their government, or the right to change it regularly ? conflict has too often followed, with innocent civilians paying the price, in lives cut short and communities destroyed. The obstacles to democracy have little to do with culture or religion, and much more to do with the desire of those in power to maintain their position at any cost. This is neither a new phenomenon nor one confined to any particular part of the world. People of all cultures value their freedom of choice, and feel the need to have a say in decisions affecting their lives.

Today, in Afghanistan, a girl will be born. Her mother will hold her and feed her, comfort her and care for her ? just as any mother would anywhere in the world. In these most basic acts of human nature, humanity knows no divisions. But to be born a girl in today's Afghanistan is to begin life centuries away from the prosperity that one small part of humanity has achieved. It is to live under conditions that many of us in this hall would consider inhuman. I speak of a girl in Afghanistan, but I might equally well have mentioned a baby boy or girl in Sierra Leone. No one today is unaware of this divide between the world?s rich and poor. No one today can claim ignorance of the cost that this divide imposes on the poor and dispossessed who are no less deserving of human dignity, fundamental freedoms, security, food and education than any of us. The cost, however, is not borne by them alone. Ultimately, it is borne by all of us ? North and South, rich and poor, men and women of all races and religions. Today's real borders are not between nations, but between powerful and powerless, free and fettered, privileged and humiliated. Today, no walls can separate humanitarian or human rights crises in one part of the world from national security crises in another.

We need to think of the future and the planet we are going to leave to our children and their children.

He is very calm ? very, very calm. Never raises his voice. Well-informed, contrary to the sense outside that he is ill-informed and isolated. And decisive. [on Saddam Hussein]

If you have a problem and you can't find a solution, you meet again tomorrow and you keep talking until you find a solution. You can disagree with behavior or a particular position, but you do not resort to calling an opponent worthless.

More countries have understood that women's equality is a prerequisite for development.

The Lord had the wonderful advantage of being able to work alone.

Tolerance, inter-cultural dialogue and respect for diversity are more essential than ever in a world where peoples are becoming more and more closely interconnected.

Well, the issue of a standing UN army has been raised by many because, quite frankly, the way we operate today is like telling Ottawa that I know you need a fire station but we will build one when the fire breaks. We have no army. When the crisis breaks then we begin to put an army together. We go around to governments and begin asking for troops. The question with a standing UN army is that it raises issues of budget issues, legal issues, where do you place it, under what jurisdiction? And the big boys, big countries don't want it. The smaller countries are also nervous.

Human rights and the rule of law are vital to global security and prosperity. As Truman said, ?We must, once and for all, prove by our acts conclusively that Right Has Might?. That?s why this country has historically been in the vanguard of the global human rights movement. But that lead can only be maintained if America remains true to its principles, including in the struggle against terrorism. When it appears to abandon its own ideals and objectives, its friends abroad are naturally troubled and confused.

Ignorance and prejudice are the handmaidens of propaganda. Our mission, therefore, is to confront ignorance with knowledge, bigotry with tolerance, and isolation with the outstretched hand of generosity. Racism can, will, and must be defeated.

More than ever before in human history, we share a common destiny. We can master it only if we face it together. And that, my friends, is why we have the United Nations.

The problem is not with the faith, but with the faithful.

Truman's name will forever be associated with the memory of far-sighted American leadership in a great global endeavor. And you will see that every one of my five lessons brings me to the conclusion that such leadership is no less sorely needed now than it was 60 years ago.

What governments and people don't realize is that sometimes the collective interest - the international interest - is also the national interest.

I arrived there straight from Africa' - and I can tell you, Minnesota soon taught me the value of a thick overcoat, a warm scarf and even ear-muffs!

Author Picture
First Name
Kofi
Last Name
Annan
Birth Date
1938
Bio

Ghanaian Diplomat, Secretary-General of the United Nations