PHILADELPHIA- Kofi Annan, secretary general of the United Nations, will speak at the 249th Commencement of the University of Pennsylvania on May 16. He will also receive an honorary Doctor of Law degree.
"Secretary General Annan's commitment to international peace, human rights, and the universal values of equality, liberty, opportunity and human dignity make him the perfect speaker to address Penn students as they begin their journey as citizens and leaders of an increasingly complex and interconnected global society, "Penn President Amy Gutmann said.
Now serving his second term as secretary general, Annan received the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize. In conferring the prize, the Nobel Committee said he "had been pre-eminent in bringing new life" to the UN.
Annan has been at the center of several delicate political situations. These included attempts to gain Iraq's compliance with Security Council resolutions, a mission in 1998 to help promote the transition to civilian rule in Nigeria, an agreement in 1999 to resolve a stalemate between Libya and the Security Council over the Lockerbie bombing, diplomacy in 1999 to forge an international response to violence in East Timor, the certification of Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon in September 2000 and further efforts to encourage Israelis and Palestinians to resolve their differences through peaceful negotiations.
He has been at the forefront of the worldwide fight against HIV/AIDS and called for a "Global Compact" involving leaders of the world business community as well as labor and civil society organizations aimed at enabling all the world's people to share the benefits of globalization and embedding the global market in values and practices that are fundamental to meeting socioeconomic needs.