Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan dies

Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan dies
© JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images

Former United Nations (U.N.) Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the first black African to hold the position, has died at the age of 80.

Annan’s family and his foundation, the Kofi Annan Foundation, announced his passing in a statement posted on Twitter Saturday.

The statement said that Annan died after a short illness, and was with his wife and children during his final days.

“Wherever there was suffering or need, he reached out and touched many people with his deep compassion and empathy. He selflessly placed others first, radiating genuine kindness, warmth and brilliance in all he did,” the statement read.

Annan, born in Ghana, spent the majority of his career as a diplomat at the U.N., and was the first internal pick to lead the body.

He served as secretary-general for two terms, from 1997 through 2006. Annan and the U.N. both earned the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001.

“Kofi Annan was a guiding force for good,” current U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said in a statement obtained by The Associated Press. “It is with profound sadness that I learned of his passing. In many ways, Kofi Annan was the United Nations. He rose through the ranks to lead the organization into the new millennium with matchless dignity and determination.”

Annan continued his humanitarian work after he left the U.N., starting his foundation and joining Nelson Mandela's elite group The Elders.