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New Book Assesses Leadership of Former UN Attorney General Kofi Annan


The performance of former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan is still under discussion, months after he left office. Many of his admirers and critics have gone to great lengths to assess his performance as the head of an organization whose stated goals include facilitating cooperation among nations and encouraging international security. He has come under special scrutiny by Africans, as the first Secretary General of the United Nations from Sub Saharan Africa.

Nigerian lawyer and author Richard Bagudu has written a book on Mr. Annan’s time in office. He calls it “a detailed assessment of his performance as secretary general of the UN. It also looks at some of the controversies, including the Rwandan genocide and the oil-for-food scandal….”

Most of Annan’s critics say his biggest failure was his inaction during the Rwandan genocide, which took place when his was in charge of peacekeeping operations. In particular, General Romeo Dallaire, the UN forces commander in Rwanda at the time, has said that Kofi Annan did not respond to any of his repeated faxes asking for permission to use force against the militias.

Author Richard Bagudu defends Kofi Annan’s actions at the time. He says the secretary general did not have the authority to agree to Dallaire’s request, and “the fact remains that incident was the result of the failure of the UN as a body, rather that of the secretary general….”

Another criticism of Mr. Annan’s tenure was the 2004 report saying his son Kojo received payments from the Swiss company Cotecna Inspection SA, which won a lucrative contract under the UN Oil-for-Food Program. Kofi Annan called for an investigation that later exonerated him, but many think the accusation left a stain on his record.

Richard Bagudu says Kofi Annan’s main achievement was the creation of the millennium development goals Initiative, with its goal of cutting poverty and improving development by 2015, and his pressure on the developed world to do more to help poor countries.

The author also praises Koffi Annan for his “creative diplomacy” and his effort to resolve conflicts that “have a long history of failure and hoplessness.” Bagudu says Africans had a lot of expectations for Kofi Annan because he was “the son of the soil.” He says it was not possible for him to satisfy those expectations. So the author says it’s not fair for some of Mr. Annan’s critics to use those failures to judge his overall performance. In Judging Annan, Bagudu concludes that “the court of public opinion is not fair and often prejudiced.”