One month after the passing of His Excellency Kofi Annan, the GCSP had a chance to hear from someone whose life has been greatly impacted by him. Dr Fiifi Edu-Afful, Deputy Program Head of the Peace Support Operations Programme at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) has recently become a Doctoral Fellow with the Geneva Centre for Security Policy’s (GCSP) Global Fellowship Initiative. Below is a one on one interview with Dr Edu-Afful about the life and legacy of Kofi Annan.
GCSP: How has the life of Kofi Annan inspired your work with KAIPTC?
Kofi Annan spent his life in the service of humanity. As a global leader, Mr. Annan was greatly dedicated and committed to ensuring that the world was a fairer and better place to live. His sense of dedication and commitment to human rights, gender equality, rule of law and sustainable development distinguished him throughout his career and leadership at the United Nations, even after his retirement. His all-embracing focus on peace, human rights and development has driven the vision, mission and core values of the KAIPTC.
GCSP: As a Ghanaian, what is the legacy Kofi Annan has left for you, both personally and professionally? What values from Kofi Annan’s life will you take forward with you in your life?
Kofi Annan was a peacemaker and his character embodied the values of the United Nations. He was also very kind and caring, and he treated all equally, irrespective of your status in society. His personality generated humility, sympathy, patience, honesty, transparency, love and healing. His works, values, and principles continue to have a great influence and impact on my life and many young scholars in our field.
As a shrewd negotiator and an intelligent strategist, his work particularly in the post-elections violence in Kenya speaks volumes. In the case of Ghana, there are countless times that he had to use his diplomatic touch to help smooth potential election-related disputes. He was a successful bureaucratic operator that managed to chalk many successes while facing a mountain of challenges at the UN yet he remained an effective diplomat.
GCSP: How do you believe Kofi Annan has changed the narrative for current and future Ghanaian leaders?
His life has taught current and future leaders of Ghana, and I dare say the entire world, to be responsive to the needs of the people. They must be diligent, selfless, fruitful and they must show a great sense of kindness, concern and empathy for their people.
GCSP: How long have you been involved in with the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) and in what capacity? And what inspired you to become aligned with KAIPTC?
I joined the KAIPTC in 2011 as a research assistant with the Gender, Peace and Security Program. Then, over time I became a research fellow and a deputy head for the Peace Support Operations program. I joined the Centre because it provided me the environment and the opportunity to serve humanity especially those ravaged by conflict.
I was exposed to the ultimate wonder of human cultural diversity and the ramifications of conflict, including harsh living conditions and human suffering. Through this experience I developed a passion to help post-conflict societies especially women and children. Stopping violence, saving lives and helping to heal shattered communities has brought me great joy.
Even though I am not on the field working with communities anymore, I am training a lot of people who in turn have gone back to affect their societies in many positive ways. This makes me more fulfilled as an individual knowing very well that the little knowledge that I am imparting to people is making a change.
GCSP: What has been your impression of the Global Fellowship Initiative (GFI) so far and where do you think the GCSP can contribute to international peace and security through the GFI?
Due to its core mandate of executive education, dialogue and policy analysis, the GCSP has the opportunity to reach out to many individuals around the world, with all backgrounds. This diversity helps the GCSP contribute to sustainable international peace and security.