Kofi Annan, the former United Nations Secretary-General, died at the age of 80 early Saturday at a hospital in Bern, Switzerland, following a short unspecified illness.

The death of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who was born in Ghana in 1938, was confirmed by the Kofi Annan Foundation on Twitter:

It is with immense sadness that the Annan family and the Kofi Annan Foundation announce that Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations and Nobel Peace Laureate, passed away peacefully on Saturday 18th August after a short illness… pic.twitter.com/NDOy2NmAAs

— Kofi Annan Foundation (@KofiAnnanFdn) August 18, 2018

“His wife Nane and their children Ama, Kojo and Nina were by his side during his last days,” the foundation named after him wrote.

Annan became the seventh U.N. Secretary-General (and its first black African one) in 1997, after rising through the system’s ranks from his first role at the World Health Organization of administrative and budget officer in 1962.

He remained in the top Secretary-General position for two terms, until 2006. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001, jointly with the U.N., for “revitalizing” the body and giving “priority to human rights.”

But as the Reuters news agency noted, Annan was criticized during his time as head of the U.N.’s peacekeeping forces for failing “to halt the genocide in Rwanda in the 1990s.”

The international community failed Rwanda and that must leave us always with a sense of bitter regret,” Annan said in 2004. “I believed at that time that I was doing my best. But I realized after the genocide that there was more that I could and should have done to sound the alarm and rally support.”

After leaving the top role, Annan later served as U.N. special envoy for Syria.

The foundation has hailed Annan as “a global statesman and a deeply committed internationalist who fought throughout his life for a fairer and more peaceful world.” It called him “an ardent champion of peace, sustainable development, human rights and the rule of law.”

“He will be greatly missed by so many around the world, as well as the staff at the Foundation and his many former colleagues in the United Nations system,” it added. “He will remain in our hearts forever.”

"Kofi Annan was a guiding force for good. It is with profound sadness that I learned of his passing." – @antonioguterres Former @UN Secretary General and Nobel Peace Laureate Kofi Annan passed away on Saturday, 18 August. Statement: https://t.co/YkcMqTk0qI pic.twitter.com/DdYbVW6MT5

— UN Geneva (@UNGeneva) August 18, 2018

Current U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres described Annan as a “guiding force for good,” “a good friend and mentor” and “someone I could always turn to for counsel and wisdom.”

He provided people everywhere with a space for dialogue, a place for problem-solving and a path to a better world,” Guterres said via a statement shared online. “In these turbulent and trying times, he never stopped working to give life to the values of the United Nations Charter. His legacy will remain a true inspiration for all of us.”

The U.N.’s Migration Agency paid tribute to “visionary” Annan with this post:

Today we mourn the loss of a great man, a leader, and a visionary: former @UN Secretary General @KofiAnnan.A life well lived. A life worth celebrating. pic.twitter.com/3sLmy7VS2p

— IOM – UN Migration (@UNmigration) August 18, 2018

Other tributes have also flooded in for the diplomat:

We're extremely saddened by the demise of Kofi Annan, an exemplary humanitarian, a nobel laureate & a champion of peace around the world. The world will miss his presence, our thoughts & prayers are with his family. pic.twitter.com/SCacINQHfz

— Congress (@INCIndia) August 18, 2018

Former U.N. Secretary and Nobel Peace Prize winner Kofi Annan has passed at age 80. The world needs visionaries of peace more than ever, and his life is an example of the possible. Thank you for your service to us all, sir. Rest now, in peace.

— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) August 18, 2018

"Sad to hear of the death of Kofi Annan. A great leader and reformer of the UN, he made a huge contribution to making the world he has left a better place than the one he was born into. My thoughts and condolences are with his family." – PM @Theresa_May

— UK Prime Minister (@10DowningStreet) August 18, 2018

TB: I’m shocked and distressed to hear the news about Kofi. He was a good friend whom I saw only weeks ago. Kofi Annan was a great diplomat, a true statesman and a wonderful colleague who was widely respected and will be greatly missed. My deepest sympathy to Nane and his family

— Tony Blair Institute (@InstituteGC) August 18, 2018

Kofi Annan was not just a great breaker of glass ceilings, he was a leader and a visionary, who worked to foster international cooperation and a more united world. pic.twitter.com/1MNSPhWuuR

— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) August 18, 2018

A leader of leaders, a titan amongst world statesman, a wonderful humanitarian and the most compassionate and caring of individuals. Kofi Annan will be sorely missed.

— Gordon & Sarah Brown (@OfficeGSBrown) August 18, 2018

I have no words to express the shock and sorrow I experienced on learning about Kofi Annan’s passing. A remarkable leader and great human being, he will be sorely missed, particularly by fellow members of the ⁦@OneYoungWorld⁩ family. pic.twitter.com/l3cR15RKAe

— Prof Thuli Madonsela (@ThuliMadonsela3) August 18, 2018

Deeply saddened by the passing away of Kofi Annan. One of the true global leaders of our age. A man of courage, wisdom and friendship. I’m honored to have had the privilege of working for him. pic.twitter.com/a9pTv0cdF1

— Carl Bildt (@carlbildt) August 18, 2018

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.


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