Remembering Kofi Annan

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The International AIDS Society mourns the passing of Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations, who died on Saturday in Switzerland at the age of 80.

Annan played a pivotal role in the global awakening in the fight against HIV and AIDS. Annan played a key role in the unprecedented meeting of the United Nations Security Council in 2000, which recognized the HIV epidemic as a threat to global security. In 2001, Annan issued an urgent call for the creation of a global fund to finance the AIDS response. Later that year, his call would result in the creation of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which currently supports antiretroviral therapy for more than 11 million people.

The Millennium Development Goals elevated the fight against AIDS to the very top of the global political agenda. In 2001, the United Nations General Assembly hosted the first-ever Special Session devoted to a single disease, with Member States unanimously endorsing the first set of global AIDS targets. Under Annan’s leadership, the United Nations endorsed the goal of universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.

Above all, Annan was a tireless advocate for a people-centred approach to global health and development. In the vision he set forth, the response to AIDS would succeed only if it was grounded in principles of human rights and gender equity.

We at the IAS salute Annan for his leadership and commitment on AIDS. As the AIDS community collectively works to rejuvenate and accelerate our response, let us draw inspiration from the life, vision and example of the former Secretary-General.

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