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UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein on the dynamic, irreplaceable Kofi Annan

18 August 2018

“I am grief-stricken over the death of Kofi Annan. Kofi was humanity’s best example, the epitome, of human decency and grace.  In a world now filled with leaders who are anything but that, our loss, the world’s loss becomes even more painful. 

He was a friend to thousands and a leader of millions.  To me — like to so many in the UN, he was my immediate boss when I was thirty-one years of age — and what a boss!  He was always courageous, direct in speech, but never discourteous — never discourteous.  Later, when I was an ambassador at the UN he inspired us, by being a dynamic and charismatic leader in his capacity as Secretary-General.  And most of all, he was a friend and counsel — to me and to so many others.  Whenever — as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, I felt isolated and alone politically (which, in the last four years, was often) I would go for long walks with him around Geneva — and listen.  

When I told him once how everyone was grumbling about me, he looked at me — like a father would look at a son — and said sternly: “you’re doing the right thing, let them grumble.”  Then he grinned!  

There are some human beings who will seem irreplaceable to us, rare human beings.  Kofi Annan is high among them.  

Goodbye my dear friend ... goodbye Kofi.”

ENDS

For more information and media requests, please contact: Ravina Shamdasani - + 41 22 917 9169 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org

2018 is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70thanniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rightswww.standup4humanrights.org.

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