You are here: Lord Triesman remembers Kofi Annan

21 August 2018

Lord Treisman is a Former Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister.

Kofi was a dear friend. He and his work with the Elders were an everyday inspiration and it was easy to grow to love this man. It was a joy to work with him.

As General Secretary of the Labour Party I had the good fortune to first meet Kofi at UNGA and discuss how we might develop policies way beyond the normal polite exchange of pleasantries. My first discussions of the Responsibility to Protect and the outline of the Millennium Development Goals happed in this setting where I also got to meet another couple of remarkable Ghanaian statesmen - John Kufuor and Nana Akoufo Addo. 

Later, as a UK Foreign Minister with Africa responsibilities we worked on the outline Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the preparation of the Gleneagles "G8" summit and the linked Make Poverty History campaign. It brought together the G8 group of wealthy economies, the leadership of the African Union, various rock and roll stars and, centrally, Kofi. The outcomes were never going to be enough but debt forgiveness, "Malaria No More" and a number of other initiatives started an unstoppable process of development. 

One other memory rushes back to mind. Kofi loved his football. When I chaired the Football Association I had the privilege of inviting the guest of honour who would present the FA Cup after the Final at Wembley. I asked Kofi and he said ‘I’ll be there tomorrow and can my son come to the game?’ Well, there was no issue about his son coming. We were delighted. But I had to point out the game was in three months and not tomorrow. Of course he knew that; his enthusiasm was simply infectious. He honoured us by coming and presenting the Cup to a huge, warm Wembley welcome. Supporters were delighted he was there.

I will miss Kofi, his enthusiasm and wisdom. And I will miss the deep compassion he brought to the crises he worked so hard to resolve. Our last efforts were made in trying to reconcile Spain and Catalonia. Europe can be as hard an environment as any. Whatever could be done, Kofi always wanted to do it. He never thought the task was impossible.

Photo: Kofi Annan and Lord Treisman. Credit: UN photo