He has been called a “rock star of international diplomacy”. Born in Kumasi, Ghana in 1938, Kofi Annan is the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations, and the first to be elected from the ranks of UN staff.

In 1962, after receiving a master’s degree in management from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he joined the UN in 1962, working for the World Health Organization in Geneva, and with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. He was Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping at a time when nearly 70,000 military and civilian personnel were deployed in UN operations around the world.

Annan has described his job as “a race against time.” He has won praise from developing and powerful nations alike. Former US Ambassador to the UN Richard Holbrooke has described Annan as “the best Secretary-General in the history of the UN.”

photo by Peter Badge