Early years and family
Annan was born to Henry Reginald and Victoria Annan on April 8, 1938, in Kumasi, Ghana. His given name means "born on a Friday". Annan was a twin, an occurrence that is regarded as special in Ghanaian culture; his twin sister Efua died in 1991.
Annan's family was part of the country's elite; both of his grandfathers and his uncle were tribal chiefs. His father was half Asante and half Fante; his mother was Fante. Annan's father worked for a long period as an export manager from the Lever Brothers cocoa company.
From 1954 to 1957, Annan attended the elite Mfantsipim School, a Methodist boarding school in Cape Coast founded in the 1870s. Annan has said that the school taught him "that suffering anywhere concerns people everywhere". In 1957, the year Annan graduated from Mfantsipim, Ghana became the second British colony in Africa (after South Africa) to become independent.
In 1958, Annan began studying for a degree in economics at the Kumasi College of Science and Technology, now the University of Science and Technology. He received a Ford Foundation grant, enabling him to complete his undergraduate studies at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, United States in 1961. Annan then studied at the Institute for Advanced International Studies (Institut universitaire des hautes études internationales) in Geneva, Switzerland, from 1961–62, later attending the MIT Sloan School of Management (1971–72) as a Sloan Fellow and receiving a Master of Science degree in management.
Following that, he returned to work for the United Nations as an Assistant Secretary-General in three consecutive positions: Human Resources Management and Security Coordinator from 1987 to 1990, Program Planning, Budget and Finance, and Controller from 1990 to 1992, and Peacekeeping Operations from March 1993 to February 1994. Annan was then an Undersecretary-General until October 1995, when he was made a Special Representative of the Secretary-General to the former Yugoslavia, serving for five months in this capacity and returning to his duties as Undersecretary-General in April 1996.
Secretary-General of the United Nations
On December 13, 1996, Annan was selected by the UN Security Council to be Secretary-General and was confirmed four days later by the General Assembly. Annan took the oath of office without delay, starting his first term as Secretary-General on January 1, 1997. Annan replaced outgoing Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali of Egypt, becoming the first person from a black African nation to become Secretary-General.
In his book Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda, ex-General Roméo Dallaire claims that Annan was overly passive in his response to the 1994 Tutsi genocide in Rwanda. Dallaire claims that Annan, the head of the peacekeeping mission in Rwanda at that time, held back UN troops from intervening to settle the conflict and from providing more logistic and material support.
Annan's Secretary-Generalship was renewed on January 1, 2002, an unusual deviation from informal policy. The office usually rotates around the continents, with two terms each; since Annan's predecessor Ghali was also an African, normally Annan would have only served one term. However, in this case Annan was able to secure reappointment.
In April 2001, the Secretary-General issued a five-point "Call to Action" to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Annan sees this epidemic as his "personal priority" as Secretary-General and in life in general. He proposed the establishment of a Global AIDS and Health Fund to stimulate increased spending needed to help developing countries confront the HIV/AIDS crisis.
"You can do a lot with diplomacy, but with diplomacy backed up by force you can get a lot more done." - February 24th 1998 regarding the use of force to gain compliance from Saddam Hussein  (http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1309/is_1_35/ai_54259243)
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