“Since the shock of Kofi’s death, I have been reflecting on what made him so special,” Mr. Guterres told those assembled, saying he was “both one-of-a-kind and one of us.”
The only UN chief to have emerged from the ranks of its staff, passed away after a short illness on 18 August. He was 80.
Speaking of Mr. Annan’s time at the helm of the Organization, Secretary-General Guterres cited “a remarkable record of achievement,” in which he pioneered new ideas and initiatives, including the Millennium Development Goals – precursor to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – and landmark reforms in his report, “In Larger Freedom.”
Mr. Guterres called his predecessor an “exceptional global leader” who saw the UN as “a force for good.”
“He opened the doors of the United Nations, bringing the Organization closer to the world’s people and engaging new partners in protecting the environment, defending human rights and combating HIV/AIDS and other killer diseases,”
... Antonio Guterres
“Kofi Annan was the United Nations and the United Nations was him,” Mr. Guterres asserted.
On a personal note, the UN chief called Mr. Annan “my good friend,” saying they “marched through life together in many ways.”
They had come together in supporting the birth of a new nation, Timor-Leste, and then, as the UN Refugee Agency chief, the former Secretary-General had provided him with “unwavering support”, he said.
“Now that I occupy the office Kofi once held, I am continually inspired by his integrity, dynamism and dedication,” Mr. Guterres said.
Video - Antonio Guterres speech at Kofi Annan's Funeral