About this writer
As United Nations Secretary-General from 1997 to 2006, Kofi Annan was at the center of some of the most tragic political events in modern times. In this memoir, published in September by Penguin Press, Annan reflects on some of these events – the horror of the September 11 terrorist attacks, the American-led invasions of the Iraq and Afghanistan, and the brutal conflicts of Somalia, Rwanda, and Bosnia to mention a few.
The first sub-Saharan African to hold the position of Secretary-General, Annan talks about his remarkable career at the center of global politics and shares his unique perspectives and impressions. In Interventions: A Life in War and Peace, Annan reflects on his record at the UN and candidly discusses the organization’s successes, challenges and missed opportunities under his leadership.
The first sub-Saharan African to hold the position of Secretary-General, Annan has led an extraordinary life in his own right. His idealism and personal politics were forged in the Ghanaian independence movement of his adolescence, when all of Africa seemed to be rising as one to demand self-determination. Schooled in Africa, Europe, and the United States, Annan ultimately joined the United Nations in Geneva at the lowest professional level in the still young organization. Annan rose rapidly through the ranks and was by the end of the Cold War prominently placed in the dramatically changing department of peacekeeping operations. His stories of Presidents Clinton and Bush, dictators like Saddam Hussein and Robert Mugabe, and public figures of all stripes contrast powerfully with Annan’s descriptions of the courage and decency of ordinary people everywhere struggling for a new and better world. Showing the successes of the United Nations, Annan also reveals the organization’s missed opportunities and ongoing challenges–inaction in the Rwanda genocide, continuing violence between Israelis and Palestinians, and the endurance of endemic poverty.
Yet Annan’s great strength in this book is his ability to embed these tragedies within the context of global politics, demonstrating how, time and again, the nations of the world have retreated from the UN’s founding purpose. From the pinnacle of global politics, Annan made it his purpose to put the individual at the center of every mission for peace and prosperity.
A personal biography of global statecraft, Annan’s “Interventions” is as much a memoir as a guide to world order–past, present, and future.