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US University Awards Honorary Degree to Annan

Georgetown University in Washington has awarded an honorary degree to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

A packed audience of more than 300 students, professors, community members and African dignitaries awaited U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan at Georgetown University Monday evening. The university honored Mr. Annan with an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters. After the ceremony, he delivered the 2006 Oliver Tambo lecture.

University President John DeGiogia said the speech was fitting for the secretary-general who was the first to rise from the ranks of international civil servants.

"I believe this is one of the secretary-general's most lasting legacies - protection of human rights must never stop at any border's edge," he said. "If we value our own human worth, then we have an obligation to value and protect the dignity and rights of our fellow men in all parts of the world."

The lecture is named after South African politician and former African National Congress president Oliver Tambo. In his speech, Mr. Annan recalled Tambo's struggle to end apartheid in South Africa.

"Were he alive today, I know he would speak equally forcefully for all of us to join hand to break the barriers that separate Africa from global prosperity," Annan said.

Mr. Annan cautioned that Africa continues to face several barriers to greater prosperity, including underdevelopment and internal conflict. But he stressed that democratic governments in Africa are making progress in these areas.

"I often say that no one invests in a bad neighborhood," he noted. "And when the continent is seen by many as a continent at war, we do scare them away, and Africans have realized that and are doing whatever they can to settle these conflicts so that they can focus on the essential task of economic and social development."

When asked whether Africa would see a union of nations much like the European Union, Mr. Annan smiled and said perhaps one day, but likely not in his lifetime.