A Leader’s Legacy: The Unmentionables Remembers Kofi Annan
On Saturday, news of former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s passing broke around the world. A champion for peace, his loss reverberated throughout the international community. “The gravity of Mr. Annan’s leadership was second only to the gravity of his commitment to protecting and defending the rights of the most vulnerable,” says The Unmentionables Co-Founder and CEO Kaleigh Heard.
A staunch believer in the global responsibility to protect, Annan believed in protection, education, equality, and upholding the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights. “Mr. Annan’s decades of service advancing international human rights—including education, health, and freedom from sexual violence—have inspired millions over his many decades of service, including me,” Heard reflects on her experience meeting Annan at the 2017 One Young World Summit. “I am grateful to have had the opportunity to briefly engage with Mr. Annan last year, and will always hold his quiet yet powerful encouragement close to my heart, particularly in the darkest moments.”
Annan bore witness to some of the world’s most violent conflicts, which left an unprecedented number of people displaced, during his time at the UN. Famously stating, "I urge you to celebrate the extraordinary courage and contributions of refugees past and present," he continued to strive for peaceful resolutions for the remainder of his life, and throughout it all, strongly advocated for human rights, education, and protection from violence in all its forms, including sexual and gender-based violence.
“Mr. Annan’s passing leaves a hole in millions of hearts, and represents the loss of a hero who, even in his final days, continued to fight for peace and security in every corner of the globe. The world has lost an irreplaceable leader whose belief in the irrefutable nature of rights to freedom, prosperity, health and education must continue to be the cornerstone of international progress now and in the future,” laments Heard.