Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary-general, has died aged 80.
The Ghanaian national was the first black African to be appointed as the world’s top diplomat and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his humanitarian work during his eight years in the role.
He died in hospital in Bern, Switzerland, in the early hours of Saturday morning.
His death was announced by his family and the Kofi Annan Foundation, which said he had “passed away peacefully” following a short illness.
In a statement, the foundation said: “Kofi Annan was a global statesman and a deeply committed internationalist who fought throughout his life for a fairer and more peaceful world.
“Wherever there was suffering or need, he reached out and touched many people with his deep compassion and empathy. He selflessly placed others first, radiating genuine kindness, warmth and brilliance in all he did.”
Mr Annan spent virtually his entire career at the UN, where he served two terms as secretary-general between January 1997 and December 2006.
His tenure was capped by winning the Nobel Peace Prize, awarded jointly to Mr Annan and the UN in 2001 for “their work for a better organised and more peaceful world”.
“In many ways, Kofi Annan was the United Nations. He rose through the ranks to lead the organisation into the new millennium with matchless dignity and determination,” said current UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres, who described his predecessor as “a guiding force for good”.
“It is with profound sadness that I learned of his passing,” Mr Guterres added.
Mr Annan faced one of the most turbulent periods in the UN’s history during his time as secretary-general. He took on the post six years after the collapse of the Soviet Union and presided over an era marked by the 9/11 attacks and dominated by the subsequent “war on terror”.