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Former UN secretary general Kofi Annan dies at age 80

Kofi Annan, former secretary-general of the United Nations, is dead.

The Nobel peace laureate died on Saturday after a short illness, his family said in a statement.

“It is with immense sadness that the Annan family and the Kofi Annan Foundation announce that Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations and Nobel Peace Laureate, passed away peacefully on Saturday 18th August after a short illness,” Annan’s family said.

Annan spent virtually his entire career as an administrator in the United Nations. He served two terms as secretary general from Jan. 1, 1997 to Dec. 31, 2006, capped nearly mid-way when he and the UN were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001.

The UN high commissioner for human rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein issued a statement saying Annan was “the epitome of human decency and grace.”

“In a world now filled with leaders who are anything but that, our loss, the world’s loss, becomes even more painful,” he said.

During his tenure, Annan presided over some of the worst failures and scandals at the world body, one of its most turbulent periods since its founding in 1945.

He became the UN-Arab League special envoy for Syria in February 2012, accepting what he called the “daunting challenge” of trying to negotiate peace. He resigned later that year, frustrated over the lack of progress in ending the violence.

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