Born into an aristocratic family in Ghana in 1939, Kofi Annan’s experience with advocacy began at a young age. His education taught him early that suffering anywhere was an issue of global concern. By the time he graduated in 1957, Ghana had achieved independence from Britain, igniting his passion for international relations. That would follow him into a lifetime of civil service, beginning at the United Nations in 1962. He served in a number of capacities during his time at the U.N., including Peacekeeping Operations during the Rwandan genocide. He eventually filled the role of Secretary-General of the United Nations Security Council in 1997. Kofi Annan was a gifted speaker who left an impression on many people worldwide.
Top 12 Kofi Annan Quotes
- “We are not only all responsible for each other’s security. We are also, in some measure, responsible for each other’s welfare. Global solidarity is both necessary and possible. It is necessary because without a measure of solidarity no society can be truly stable, and no one’s prosperity truly secure.”
- “Education is, quite simply, peace-building by another name. It is the most effective form of defense spending there is.”
- “What governments and people don’t realize is that sometimes the collective interest – the international interest – is also the national interest.”
- “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.”
- “I have always believed that on important issues, the leaders must lead. Where the leaders fail to lead, and people are really concerned about it, the people will take the lead and make the leaders follow.”
- “Open markets offer the only realistic hope of pulling billions of people in developing countries out of abject poverty, while sustaining prosperity in the industrialized world.”
- “We may have different religions, different languages, different colored skin, but we all belong to one human race.”
- “We have the means and the capacity to deal with our problems, if only we can find the political will.”
- “If one is going to err, one should err on the side of liberty and freedom.”
- “You are never too young to lead and you should never doubt your capacity to triumph where others have not.”
- “In the 21st century, I believe the mission of the United Nations will be defined by a new, more profound awareness of the sanctity and dignity of every human life, regardless of race or religion.”
- “The world is not ours to keep. We hold it in trust for future generations.”
Themes of Kofi Annan Quotes
These top 12 quotes by Kofi Annan focus on themes of peace, global stability, leadership and advocacy. These are themes that defined Annan’s career and legacy. In December of 2001, Annan was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, alongside the United Nations, for his work towards ending the HIV/AIDS crisis. This was a landmark achievement in his career and a massive step in combating the epidemic.
Kofi Annan’s Legacy
His retirement from the United Nations by no means signaled an end to his commitment to civil service and advocacy. Annan went on to continue promoting a more peaceful and stable world through work with multiple organizations in his home country, even contributing to peace efforts in Syria’s civil war.
On August 18, 2018, the world lost Kofi Annan to illness. But his legacy lives on, not only in these top Kofi Annan quotes, but in the continued impact of his actions and words on the world of advocacy and peace.