UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and all the staff of the United Nations

Sakharov Prize Laureate 2003
kofi_annan In awarding the 2003 Sakharov Prize to the United Nations, the European Parliament gave recognition to the UN's endeavours for peace, human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The Sakharov Prize honoured particularly the United Nations' members of staff who work tirelessly for world peace, often under difficult conditions. The Prize was awarded in special memory of Sergio Vieira de Mello, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and one of the worthiest representatives of the UN who, whilst serving as Kofi Annan's special representative in Iraq, was amongst those killed in 2003 in an attack on the UN Headquarters in Baghdad.

Kofi Annan was the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations. He served from 1997 to 2006 and was the first to emerge from the ranks of United Nations staff. He was a constant advocate for human rights, the rule of law, the Millennium Development Goals and Africa, and sought to bring the UN closer to the global public by forging ties with civil society, the private sector and other partners.

In 2005, Kofi Annan presented to the UN General Assembly the report entitled In larger freedom where he outlined his vision for a comprehensive and extensive reform of the UN. Among other things, this resulted in the creation, in March 2006, of a new Human Rights Council, to replace the old Commission on Human Rights, with the aim of strengthening the world body's machinery to promote and protect fundamental rights, and deal with major human rights offenders.

After completing two terms as the UN Secretary General in 2007, Annan became involved in several organizations focusing on global and African issues, including his own Kofi Annan Foundation. Since 2013 he is chairing The Elders, a group of world leaders convened by Nelson Mandela in 2007.

In 2012, he served as Joint Special Envoy of the UN and the Arab League to Syria with the goal of finding a solution to the conflict, but resigned calling it 'mission impossible'. He feels the international community has no stomach for boots on the ground, but he called for a core group of countries to work together to help Iraq and Syria resolve the current conflicts in their countries.