151+ Best Kofi Annan Quotes: Exclusive Selection

Kofi Atta Annan was a Ghanaian diplomat who served as the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations. He and the United Nations were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in December of 2001 “for their work for a better organized and more peaceful world.” Inspirational Kofi Annan quotes will motivate you to improve your own life and help improve the lives of others.

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Most Famous Kofi Annan Quotes

Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family. – Kofi Annan

Education is a human right with immense power to transform. On its foundation rest the cornerstones of freedom, democracy and sustainable human development. – Kofi Annan

We may have different religions, different languages, different colored skin, but we all belong to one human race. – Kofi Annan

To live is to choose. But to choose well, you must know who you are and what you stand for, where you want to go and why you want to get there. – Kofi Annan

We need to think of the future and the planet we are going to leave to our children and their children. – Kofi Annan

You have to wake up every day ready to start again. – Kofi Annan

Violence against women is perhaps the most shameful human rights violation, and it is perhaps the most pervasive. It knows no boundaries of geography, culture or wealth. As long as it continues, we cannot claim to be making real progress towards equality, development and peace – Kofi Annan

Whether our task is fighting poverty, stemming the spread of disease or saving innocent lives from mass murder, we have seen that we cannot succeed without the leadership of the strong and the engagement of all. – Kofi Annan

The status quo cannot work. – Kofi Annan

International law now grants rights to all human beings, not only to citizens. – Kofi Annan

To look into some aspects of the future, we do not need projections by supercomputers. Much of the next millennium can be seen in how we care for our children today. Tomorrow’s world may be influenced by science and technology, but more than anything, it is already taking shape in the bodies and minds of our children. – Kofi Annan

In an age of interdependence, global citizenship – based on trust and sense of shared responsibility – is a crucial pillar of progress. At a time when more than one billion people are denied the very minimum requirements of human dignity, business cannot afford to be seen as the problem. Rather, it must work with governments and all other actors in society to mobilize global science, technology and knowledge to tackle the interlocking crises of hunger, disease, environmental degradation and conflict that are holding back the developing world. – Kofi Annan

It is impossible to realize our goals while discriminating against half the human race. As study after study has taught us, there is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women. – Kofi Annan

Literacy unlocks the door to learning throughout life, is essential to development and health, and opens the way for democratic participation and active citizenship. – Kofi Annan

In an era of global abundance, our world has the resources to reduce dramatically the massive divides that persist between rich and poor, if only those resources can be unleashed in the service of all peoples. – Kofi Annan

We have the means and the capacity to deal with our problems, if only we can find the political will. – Kofi Annan

Children are our future and if we use them in battle, we are destroying the future. We must reclaim them, every one of them, one at a time. – Kofi Annan

The United Nations, whose membership comprises almost all the States in the world, is founded on the principle of the equal worth of every human being. – Kofi Annan

A hungry mind is not free, and I felt if we were really going to make a difference and fight poverty, we should at least start with the ability to feed ourselves, and the millions of Africans who don’t have it. – Kofi Annan

Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope. It is a tool for daily life in modern society. It is a bulwark against poverty, and a building block of development… For everyone, everywhere, literacy is, along with education in general, a basic human right…. Literacy is, finally, the road to human progress and the means through which every man, woman and child can realize his or her full potential. – Kofi Annan

We need to keep hope alive and strive to do better. – Kofi Annan

Microfinance recognizes that poor people are remarkable reservoirs of energy and knowledge, posing an untapped opportunity to create markets, bring people in from the margins and give them the tools with which to help themselves. – Kofi Annan

Business cannot prosper in societies that fail. – Kofi Annan

I was an ordinary boy at school, a young man. In fact, what did the headmaster once say? You’re constantly challenging those in authority; questioning and challenging those in authority. Which was not really the way I saw it. I felt there were questions that had to be answered, and things that weren’t quite right. – Kofi Annan

We will not enjoy security without development, we will not enjoy development without security, and we will not enjoy either without respect for human rights. – Kofi Annan

It is my aspiration that health finally will be seen not as a blessing to be wished for, but as a human right to be fought for. – Kofi Annan

For too long the development debate has ignored the fact that poverty tends to be characterized not only by material insufficiency but also by denial of rights. What is needed is a rights-based approach to development. Ensuring essential political, economic and social entitlements and human dignity for all people provides the rationale for policy. These are not a luxury affordable only to the rich and powerful but an indispensable component of national development efforts. – Kofi Annan

If you have a problem and you can’t find a solution, you meet again tomorrow, and you keep talking until you find a solution. You can disagree with behavior or a particular position, but you do not resort to calling an opponent worthless. – Kofi Annan

Our biggest challenge in this new century is to take an idea that seems abstract – sustainable development – and turn it into a reality for all the world’s people – Kofi Annan

…let us continue to work together to develop and nurture in future generations a culture of human rights, to promote freedom, security and peace in all nations. – Kofi Annan

Once you are really challenged, you find something in yourself. Man doesn’t know what he is capable of until he is asked. – Kofi Annan

There is no trust more sacred than the one the world holds with children. – Kofi Annan

The future of peace and prosperity that we seek for all the world’s people’s needs a foundation of tolerance, security, equality and justice. – Kofi Annan

We need to create a world that is equitable, that is stable and a world where we bear in mind the needs of others, and not only what we need immediately. We are all in the same boat. – Kofi Annan

The happiness of any society begins with the wellbeing of the families that live in it. – Kofi Annan

The problem is not with the faith, but with the faithful – Kofi Annan

We shall not defeat any of the infectious diseases that plague the developing world until we have also won the battle for safe drinking water, sanitation, and basic health care. – Kofi Annan

Gender equality is more than a goal in itself. It is a precondition for meeting the challenge of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development and building good governance. – Kofi Annan

We were all children once. And we all share the desire for the well-being of our children, which has always been and will continue to be the most universally cherished aspiration of humankind. – Kofi Annan

Change is a process which has to be managed. If it’s managed and managed well in the interest of the nation and the people, the likelihood is that it will end well. – Kofi Annan

I have always believed that on important issues, the leaders must lead. Where the leaders fail to lead, and people are really concerned about it, the people will take the lead and make the leaders follow. – Kofi Annan

If globalization is to succeed, it must succeed for poor and rich alike. It must deliver rights no less than riches. It must provide social justice and equity no less than economic prosperity and enhanced communication. – Kofi Annan

One has to learn from history. Quite frankly, it is almost impossible to have a sense of vision without a sense of history. If history is learned, then it doesn’t have to repeat itself over generations. – Kofi Annan

It may seem sometimes as if a culture of peace does not stand a chance against the culture of war, the culture of violence and the cultures of impunity and intolerance. Peace may indeed be a complex challenge, dependent on action in many fields and even a bit of luck from time to time. It may be a painfully slow process, and fragile and imperfect when it is achieved. But peace is in our hands. We can do it. – Kofi Annan

Good, healthy democratic societies are built on three pillars: there’s peace and stability, economic development, and respect for rule of law and human rights. And where all three are present, you stand a very good chance of making a go of it. – Kofi Annan

As one of my predecessors said, our objective is not to take people to heaven, but to prevent humanity from going to hell. – Kofi Annan

A developed country is one that allows all its citizens to enjoy a free and healthy life in a safe environment – Kofi Annan

If tolerance, respect and equity permeate family life, they will translate into values that shape societies, nations and the world. – Kofi Annan

It is extreme arrogance for one to think he is the only one who can govern his country and nobody else can do it. We’re all human. After 10, 15 years you get tired, you run out of steam and ideas, you have to give a chance to somebody else. And whether you yourself are inclined to stay on, all those around you are pushing you to stay on for what they will gain. One has to have the strength of character to say the time has come to move on…unless you are a king. – Kofi Annan

Young people should be at the forefront of global change and innovation. Empowered, they can be key agents for development and peace. If, however, they are left on society’s margins, all of us will be impoverished. Let us ensure that all young people have every opportunity to participate fully in the lives of their societies. – Kofi Annan

The future belongs to you, but it can only belong to you if you participate and take charge – Kofi Annan

We need to promote greater tolerance and understanding among the peoples of the world. Nothing can be more dangerous to our efforts to build peace and development than a world divided along religious, ethnic or cultural lines. In each nation, and among all nations, we must work to promote unity based on our shared humanity. – Kofi Annan

You are never too young to lead, and you should never doubt your capacity to triumph where others have not. – Kofi Annan

We can love what we are, without hating what, and who, we are not. – Kofi Annan

Gather the five virtues (Dignity, Confidence, Courage, Compassion, and Faith). Then you are a man. – Kofi Annan

The World is not ours to keep. We hold it in trust for future generations. – Kofi Annan

…there is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women. – Kofi Annan

Without a dream you’ll not get anywhere. – Kofi Annan

Ignorance and prejudice are the handmaidens of propaganda. Our mission, therefore, is to confront ignorance with knowledge, bigotry with tolerance, and isolation with the outstretched hand of generosity. Racism can, will, and must be defeated. – Kofi Annan

Have confidence in the young people, give them a chance, and they will surprise you. – Kofi Annan

When women thrive, all of society benefits, and succeeding generations are given a better start in life. – Kofi Annan

If you are neutral in a situation where one side is patently being mistreated, the conclusion is that you’re siding with this wrong. – Kofi Annan

Education is, quite simply, peacebuilding by another name. It is the most effective form of defense spending there is. – Kofi Annan

I used to tell the story about as a young man in high school one of the professors came in and put a broad white sheet on the board with a dot in the right hand corner and said, Boys, what do you see? And we all shouted, a black dot. He stood back and said, not a single one of you saw the broad white sheet, you all saw the black dot. He went on to tell us to focus on the broader picture, don’t focus on the negative. – Kofi Annan

We don’t need any more promises. We need to start keeping the promises we already made. – Kofi Annan

No nation can make itself secure by seeking supremacy over all others. We all share responsibility for each other’s security, and only by working to make each other secure can we hope to achieve lasting security for ourselves. – Kofi Annan

I am not afraid to dream. You first have to start with a dream. Build your castles in the air and give it foundation. Without a dream, you are not going to get anywhere. – Kofi Annan

Reform is a process, and not an event. – Kofi Annan

No one is born a good citizen or a good democrat or a good leader; it takes time and education. – Kofi Annan

People of different religions and cultures live side by side in almost every part of the world, and most of us have overlapping identities which unite us with very different groups. We can love what we are, without hating what – and who – we are not. We can thrive in our own tradition, even as we learn from others, and come to respect their teachings. – Kofi Annan

More than ever before in human history, we share a common destiny. We can master it only if we face it together. And that, my friends, is why we have the United Nations. – Kofi Annan

Unfortunately, very few governments think about youth unemployment when they are drawing up their national plans. – Kofi Annan

There is no development strategy more beneficial to society as a whole – women and men alike – than the one which involves women as central players. – Kofi Annan

The Lord had the wonderful advantage of being able to work alone. – Kofi Annan

More countries have understood that women’s equality is a prerequisite for development. – Kofi Annan

When economic conditions are difficult, people tend to be less generous and protect themselves; the question of solidarity doesn’t mean much to them at that time. – Kofi Annan

In the 21st century, I believe the mission of the United Nations will be defined by a new, more profound awareness of the sanctity and dignity of every human life, regardless of race or religion. – Kofi Annan

On climate change, we often don’t fully appreciate that it is a problem. We think it is a problem waiting to happen. – Kofi Annan

I urge the Iraqi leadership for sake of its own people… to seize this opportunity and thereby begin to end the isolation and suffering of the Iraqi people. – Kofi Annan

In their greatest hour of need, the world failed the people of Rwanda. – Kofi Annan

It has been said that arguing against globalization is like arguing against the laws of gravity. – Kofi Annan

We have to choose between a global market driven only by calculations of short-term profit, and one which has a human face. – Kofi Annan

Business, labor and civil society organizations have skills and resources that are vital in helping to build a more robust global community. – Kofi Annan

In the rush for justice it is important not to lose sight of principles the country holds dear. – Kofi Annan

If we can come up with innovations and train young people to take on new jobs, and if we can switch to clean energy, I think we have the capacity to build this world not dependent on fossil-fuel. I think it will happen, and it won’t destroy economy. – Kofi Annan

We cannot wait for governments to do it all. Globalization operates on Internet time. Governments tend to be slow moving by nature, because they have to build political support for every step. – Kofi Annan

What governments and people don’t realize is that sometimes the collective interest – the international interest – is also the national interest. – Kofi Annan

We must ensure that the global market is embedded in broadly shared values and practices that reflect global social needs, and that all the world’s people share the benefits of globalization. – Kofi Annan

Open markets offer the only realistic hope of pulling billions of people in developing countries out of abject poverty, while sustaining prosperity in the industrialized world. – Kofi Annan

Many African leaders refuse to send their troops on peace keeping missions abroad because they probably need their armies to intimidate their own populations. – Kofi Annan

If information and knowledge are central to democracy, they are conditions for development. – Kofi Annan

National markets are held together by shared values and confidence in certain minimum standards. But in the new global market, people do not yet have that confidence. – Kofi Annan

If one is going to err, one should err on the side of liberty and freedom. – Kofi Annan

Above all else, we need a reaffirmation of political commitment at the highest levels to reducing the dangers that arise both from existing nuclear weapons and from further proliferation. – Kofi Annan

Iraq has a new opportunity to comply with all these relevant resolutions of the Security Council. – Kofi Annan

The question is the morning after. What sort of Iraq do we wake up to after the bombing? What happens in the region? What impact could it have? These are questions leaders I have spoken to have posed. – Kofi Annan

Time and again, when member states and the governments are faced with an insoluble problem, and they’re under pressure to do something, that something usually ends up being referred to the U.N. – Kofi Annan

I don’t share the view that the ICC is anti-African. The ICC is not putting Africa on trial. The ICC is fighting impunity and individuals who are accused of crimes. – Kofi Annan

If the United Nations does not attempt to chart a course for the world’s people in the first decades of the new millennium, who will? – Kofi Annan

The permanent mission of Cuba to the United Nations wishes to protest strongly at the arbitrary decision and to state that it disagrees completely with the pretexts given. – Kofi Annan

We are pressing ahead with our contingency planning and we hope to be ready to work with the African Union as we move forward to the implementation of the anticipated decision by the (UN) Security Council that we push ahead with the transition. – Kofi Annan

There are concerns that if we do not make progress … desperate people will resort to violence again. – Kofi Annan

While many parts of the United Nations have been involved in the peace-building process, the system has lacked a dedicated entity to oversee the process, ensure its coherence or sustain it through the long haul. – Kofi Annan

Whether our challenge is peacemaking, nation-building, democratization or responding to natural or man-made disaster, we have seen that even the strongest amongst us cannot succeed alone. – Kofi Annan

What’s needed now is not more declarations or promises, but action, … I believe my report provides a clear program of action. – Kofi Annan

Work this out and come up with an acceptable resolution. – Kofi Annan

Throughout a rich and varied life, Mr. Cook displayed exceptional intellect, eloquence, vision and passion in the domestic and international arenas alike. – Kofi Annan

We know from experience that if the international community does not support these control measures now, the potential cost to the world will be much higher in the long term. Past outbreaks have already cost more than $10 billion in economic losses. – Kofi Annan

We know better than anyone else how to deal with our brothers. – Kofi Annan

We acted on the report as soon as it came out, … This is not the end. It is the beginning and we’ll act on the other branches of the report as they come out. – Kofi Annan

There are no excuses, … If we are to show ourselves worthy of calling ourselves members of humankind, we must rise to this challenge. Our response will be no less than a measure of our humanity. – Kofi Annan

The only way to halt an escalation of violence is for Israelis and Palestinians to work towards a viable negotiating process aimed at a just, lasting and comprehensive settlement. – Kofi Annan

The only way to escape from the present downward spiral lies through ending the violence and resuming negotiations aimed at comprehensive peaceful settlement based on relevant United Nations resolutions. – Kofi Annan

We’ve shared with them where we stand, what we hope to do next and explained to them the state of play. – Kofi Annan

The process has been difficult, but the outcome is a clear demonstration of the will of all the members of the Security Council to place the interest of the Iraqi people above all other considerations. – Kofi Annan

We shall see, … They want to end this. – Kofi Annan

The people of Serbia want to have a say in the decisions affecting them. And I hope that this choice and their voice will be heard. – Kofi Annan

We are taking very active measures to ensure that we do not have any more bad apples in that department, … We are going to act very energetically to take measures to ensure that what happened does not happen again. – Kofi Annan

to protect themselves against criticism or to criticize others. – Kofi Annan

We need to be able to work to resolve it, and I hope there will be no steps taken to escalate the situation. – Kofi Annan

let us be frank with each other, and the peoples of the United Nations. We have not yet achieved the sweeping and fundamental reform that I, and many others, believe is required. Sharp differences, some of them substantive and legitimate, have played their part in preventing that. – Kofi Annan

made it quite clear that the United Nations cannot condone the Turkish incursion into northern Iraq. – Kofi Annan

Liberia today is poised between hope and disaster. – Kofi Annan

Let us remember that every person who is infected, whatever the reason, is a fellow human being with human rights and human needs. – Kofi Annan

Let us not be deceived when we look at a clear blue sky into thinking that all is well. All is not well. – Kofi Annan

Let me be absolutely clear: The United Nations does not want to take over, police or otherwise control the Internet. – Kofi Annan

Let there be no disguising the perilous state of earth, or pretending that conservation is too expensive when we know that the cost of failure to act is far greater. – Kofi Annan

Libya has confirmed its seriousness and readiness to find a solution to the Lockerbie problem. – Kofi Annan

Libya has also agreed to a trial in a third country and believes that it ought to be possible to find answers to all other outstanding issues relating to this matter. – Kofi Annan

Liberty is not just a cause for celebration today, but also a worthy crusade for our time, … Where there is life, there is the thirst for liberty in all men and women regardless of faith, color or country. – Kofi Annan

Lots of consultations are going on in various capitals. And everyone concerned, including the Americans, have made it clear they would prefer a diplomatic solution, … Let us give it time. Let us see what happens. – Kofi Annan

Leaders in the region remain engaged in the process of convincing President Saddam and the Iraqi leadership to disarm and cooperate with inspectors. – Kofi Annan

Leaders of both rich and poor countries committed themselves to detailed policies which, if fully implemented, could reduce hunger and poverty by 50 percent in the next 10 years. – Kofi Annan

Many challenges remain in combating impunity, particularly due to the limited capacity of civilian and military judicial authorities to carry out independent and thorough investigations and to provide protection to victims and witnesses. – Kofi Annan

Many are living in sub-human conditions and they fear for their future. – Kofi Annan

Simply put, what the United Nations wants is what the U.S. also wants: a reformed United Nations that is effective, efficient, leaner and relevant to the tasks that member states want to set for us, … The world has changed, and we have to change, we have to adapt and I have given my commitment to the president that I will pursue reforms. – Kofi Annan

Since Europe is going to foot quite a lot of the bill (for Kosovo’s reconstruction) that would be right. – Kofi Annan

Millions of children and young people are already affected by the pandemic – including those infected through the most heart-reading from of transmission, mother to child. – Kofi Annan

Millions still live poor and isolated lives. Millions more have found their lives disrupted, even destroyed, by global economic forces they do not understand and cannot control. – Kofi Annan

Men can make a particular difference — by being more caring, by taking fewer risks and by facing the issue of AIDS head-on. – Kofi Annan

Mr. Volcker has said that ‘the findings do not make for pleasant reading,’ and I agree. – Kofi Annan

Mr. de Soto’s contacts with regional leaders, while not as complete as would have been desirable, nevertheless confirmed my concern that the new situation which had emerged following the developments of May, compounding as it does the longstanding causes of friction between India and Pakistan, may have serious implications for peace and security in the region and beyond. – Kofi Annan

One should not allow a minority or small minority to withhold their consent unreasonably. They should have the courage to vote and take decisions. But they tend to want to get consensus at all costs, and therefore you have 191 vetoes. – Kofi Annan

Obviously, we need all our tools, helicopters, trucks, communication to be able to operate, … We are placed in a situation where the government has not been cooperating and has limited the movements of our troops. – Kofi Annan

Obviously, we didn’t get everything we wanted. With 191 member states, it’s not easy to get an agreement. – Kofi Annan

Obviously, we seen to be at the end of the road here. – Kofi Annan

no one in the international community defended what the Iranian president said and the Security Council itself issued a statement. – Kofi Annan

My concern is that, if it were adopted, it could set precedents that result in a proliferation of the unilateral and lawless use of force, with or without credible justification. – Kofi Annan

must set clear objectives and develop a strategy to achieve them. – Kofi Annan

Now we turn to a new task: to implement what has been agreed and keep working to bridge differences that remain. – Kofi Annan

Now we must decide whether it is possible to continue on the basis agreed then, or whether radical changes are needed. – Kofi Annan

Now they have had this serious blow and I think we should try and help President (George W.) Bush and the administration, the American Red Cross and NGOs…who have been our partners in other crises around the world like the tsunami. – Kofi Annan

Nuclear conflict remains a very real, and very terrifying possibility at the beginning of the 21st century, … This is the stark reality confronting you today. – Kofi Annan

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