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Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan spoke with the media at the United Nations Office at Geneva following the June 30, 2012 Meeting of the Action Group for Syria.

Kofi Annan, the former United Nations Secretary-General, was elected to the post on December 18, 1996 after serving decades as an international civil servant for the organization. Mr. Annan’s efforts with the U.N. a led to he and the organization jointly being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001.

Kofi Atta Annan was born April 8, 1938 in Ghana into a family of tribal nobles from the Ashanti and Fante tribes. Annan studied at several universities and colleges in both the United States and across Europe with an emphasis on economics and international relations. He earned a degree from Minnesota’s Macalester College in 1961 and also earned a diplôme d’études approfondies degree in International Relations at The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland.

His career with the U.N. actually began in 1962 as a budget officer for the organization’s World Health Organization. After working there for some time, Annan earned a master’s degree in management from MIT’s Sloan School of Management via the Sloan Fellows program.

Annan was promoted to assistant secretary-general in 1987. He would begin his tenure at the top on January 1, 1997 serving until 2006. Along the way, Annan would establish one of his most celebrated programs in a global effort to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic. It was this work that drew interest from the Nobel selection committee and earned the 2001 Peace Prize award.

After the U.N., Annan established the Kofi Annan Foundation which continues his work in the private sector. In 2012, he was named the UN-Arab League envoy to Syria.

PHOTO: Public Domain

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Little Known Black History Fact: Kofi Annan  was originally published on