At the third anniversary of the death of African Hero and Global Icon Dr. Kofi Atta Annan on August 18, 2021, the President of the University of Liberia (UL) Prof. Dr. Julius Julukon Sarwolo Nelson, Jr., said the university remains committed to Dr. Annan’s ideologies and seeks partnerships to continue fostering peace, security, and conflict resolution.

“The University of Liberia remains committed to the ideologies of the late Dr. Kofi A. Annan and as we memorialize his death today, we look forward to forging partnerships that will continue to foster peace, security, and conflict resolution,” Dr. Nelson said Wednesday at the One UN House in Sinkor.

In commemoration of the life, work, values and principles of Dr. Annan, the Seventh United Nations Secretary General and Global Icon, the Kofi Annan Institute for Conflict Transformation (KAICT), University of Liberia, Government of Liberia, Angie Brooks International Center for Women’s Empowerment (ABIC), the UN System and other organizations on Wednesday observed the third anniversary of the late African hero in Monrovia.

Under his leadership as Secretary General, the United Nations helped to transform Liberia’s civil war and saw the country conduct peaceful and democratic elections that ushered in a civilian leadership after a decade – long civil unrest.

In honor of Dr. Annan’s valuable contributions to conflict resolution and transformation in Africa, particularly in Liberia, the University of Liberia in October 2006 inaugurated the Kofi Annan Institute for Conflict Transformation (KAICT), and also launched the Kofi Annan Living Memorial following his death on August 18, 2018.

In its endeavors to prepare upcoming men and women as Ambassadors for conflict prevention through its Kofi Annan Institute for Conflict Transformation, the  University of Liberia runs a curriculum that has components for leadership, patriotism, human rights, conflict transformation and other practical things which are basic tools for community engagements.

“We have gathered here today to honor the memory of an icon of peace, a diplomat and a family man, the late Dr. Kofi Atta Annan, 7th Secretary – General of the United Nations,” said Prof. Dr. Nelson, as he reflected further on one of the great memories of the deceased which he said was the award of a Nobel Peace Prize in December 2001 “for working for a better organized and more peaceful world.”

The UL President noted that even though Dr. Annan is no more, many parts of the world continue to experience relative peace as a result of his work and commitment, emphasizing that today, the issue of peace and security is no more exclusively left with the UN Security Council.

 

According to Dr. Nelson, through Goal No. 16 of the United Nations Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, every country has committed to “promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, providing access to justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.”

Recognizing the role of the late Dr. Annan, Dr. Nelson said the University of Liberia, including its Board of Trustees, for commitment to conflict transformation, peace, security, gender and development, conceived the idea of a center for training and mentoring of professionals in these areas, thus establishing KAICT through a joint resolution of UL Faculty Senate and the University of Liberia Council.

He noted that this was later endorsed by UL Board of Trustees as well as the then Visitor of the University of Liberia, H.E. Madam Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf, former President of the Republic of Liberia.

“This was done in the honor of the Late Dr. Kofi Atta Annan. Since its establishment in 2006, the Institute has partnered with many institutions including the Kings College London, the Africa Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Bradford, UK, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Center (KAIPTC), in Accra, Ghana,” said Dr. Nelson.

He noted that the institute continues to award the Master of Arts Degree in Conflict Transformation at the University of Liberia. Prof. Dr. Nelson said within the context of the United Nations transformative and ambitious global development framework, the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, the institute continues to also train many segments of Liberia’s youth in leadership skills, conflict prevention and the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Sharing the high table with Dr. Nelson and other dignitaries at the program, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Liberia, H.E. Dee – Maxwell Saah Kemayah, Sr.,  described the late Annan as an astute global statesman and icon who had an unwavering resolve and commitment towards enhancing and upholding human dignity.

He said though Dr. Annan is gone, his values and principles still live on, indicating that it was in the right direction that three years after his death on August 18, 2018, that the organizers had assembled to memorialize the former UN Secretary General.

He said Dr. Annan’s life in terms of his service, had at its core the need to further peace, stability and security globally.

In recognition of the immense contribution that Liberian women have made toward the peace and stability of the country, Minister Kemayah assured them of the government’s fullest support, saying they can count on the Government of Liberia as a dependable partner in working along with them.

Earlier, Madam Olubanke King – Akerele, former Liberian former Foreign Minister and Chairperson of the Board, Angie Brooks International Center for Women’s Empowerment (ABIC), recalled that she suggested to the UN System the need to establish a living memorial for the late Dr. Annan following his death.

Subsequently she said the Institute for Conflict Transformation at the University of Liberia was  transformed to the Kofi Annan Institute for Conflict Transformation, noting that the the initiative has four components which include training of young diplomats, establishing and promotion of SDGs Clubs, workshops for training other schools, and development of educational boards.

For her part, Dr. Ophelia Inez Weeks, former President of the University of Liberia said she was honored because it was during her tenure as President that the Kofi Annan Living Memorial was launched. She thanked the organizers, especially former Minister Akerele for her relentless efforts.

Prof. T. Debey Sayndee, Director, Kofi Annan Institute for Conflict Transformation, University of Liberia, said UL inaugurated KAICT in October 2006 in honor of Secretary General Annan’s valuable contributions to conflict resolution and transformation in Africa, particularly in Liberia, which under his leadership the United Nations helped to transform civil war to democratic elections.

According to Prof. Sayndee, Dr. Annan still had a lot of dreams on his plate when the cold hands of death snatched him away.

Mr. Uchenna Emelonye, Country Representative, United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said he was pleased to welcome the gathering at the One UN House, and acknowledged the role that Madam Akerele and her team have played in pushing Annan’s legacy.

UNFPA Rep. Madam Ohiyemigi Ohigbile expressed appreciation to KAICT and ABIC for the laudable initiative of training disadvantaged youth in conflict resolution and mediation, supporting disadvantaged youth with logistics to carry out activities, awareness and sensitization campaigns in their communities.

Madam Ohigible said one of the main mandates of her institution is to empower young people and to enable them to become drivers of change. She added that UNFPA builds the skills of young leaders and involves young people and youth – led organizations in policy making and programming.