2002 Profile in Courage Award recipient Kofi Annan with Caroline Kennedy and Senator Edward M. Kennedy.

Background

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan was honored for his political courage and diplomatic integrity amid controversy and conflict that has redefined the role of the United Nations worldwide. This award recognized his ongoing efforts in building a world response to combat international terrorism, negotiating peaceful resolutions in volatile global and regional conflicts, and organizing a global AIDS campaign that pushed nations toward hard-fought reforms to battle the epidemic. As a voice of global conscience, Kofi Annan’s commitment to humanity and peace long preceded his actions around the terror acts of September 11, 2001. Annan’s aggressive appeal to form a global alliance to fight AIDS has challenged nations to address human rights issues and set aside political, religious and cultural beliefs for the sake of saving lives. Risking his standing with world leaders, he pushed for contributions that far exceeded what member nations may have contemplated. Annan also courageously accepted responsibility for the U.N.’s international peacekeeping failures in Rwanda and Bosnia. His actions have led to U.N. reforms that have reinvigorated dedication to human rights, conflict prevention and the adoption of world standards to ensure that past mistakes are not repeated. Although he risked agitating member nations and provoked debate worldwide with his positions, Secretary-General Annan let neither controversy nor criticism hinder his ongoing mission of peace, global integrity and commitment to humanity.