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20 August, 2018 00:00 00 AM
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Kofi Annan, a crusader for human rights

Kofi Annan, a crusader 
for human rights

Kofi Annan, the Ghanaian national, who served as the seventh Secretary General of the UN, died on 18 August with the world losing a staunch crusader of human rights. The UN’s top position, on one hand is profoundly honourable and materially rewarding but as the head of UN, a person is respected and kept in mind not for going along with the complex rules of realpolitik but often for acting on mere human impulses of what is right and what is not.

 In 1992, as Under Secretary General of the UN, he was instrumental in facilitating a UN and NATO air strike called ‘Operation Deliberate Force’, directed against the marauding Serb army attacking UN safe zones in Bosnia. However, Annan was also criticised for sitting on the fence in giving permission to UN forces to intervene in Rwanda, which according to many, could have reduced mass slaughter of Tutsi people.

 But as we now remember Kofi Annan, it must be kept in mind that he was after all a human with flaws and limitations. Also, a person working within the United Nations Structure often has to abide by certain norms dictated generally by global political dynamics and imperatives. As a champion of human rights, Annan was active in creating a mass awareness in Africa about HIV and even after retiring from the UN, was vocal about the rising disparity in the world between the rich and the poor.

  Annan won the Nobel for peace in 2001 but he will be most remembered not for winning the Nobel, but for never compromising on his principle about ensuring better rights and privileges for the persecuted. This is where Annan becomes important for Bangladesh because in 2016, he led the Advisory Commission on the Rakhine State, to look into the long simmering ethnic tensions between the Buddhists and the Muslim Rohingya population in Rakhine state in Myanmar.

  The result was the Annan Recommendation which has been endorsed and supported by Bangladesh and, while agreed to by Myanmar, has not seen material form as yet. At the introduction of the recommendations, Annan said that unless concerted efforts are taken by the government and the society in Myanmar, the situation of the Rohingyas will never improve and the cycle of violence will return. His words proved prophetic in August, 2017 when fresh disorder erupted resulting in a Myanmar army onslaught on civilians. Our greatest tribute to Kofi Annan will be through the implementation of his proposal in Rakhine state.  

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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