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Kofi Annan served two terms as secretary-general to the United Nations beginning in 1997. He was the first sub-Saharan African to lead the international body. In March he stepped out of retirement to take on what many called "mission impossible" -- trying to resolve the conflict in Syria. But his six-point peace plan fell apart and he resigned as special envoy last month. In a new book, Kofi Annan reflects on his successes and failures during 40 years with the U.N. and argues for the U.N.'s continued relevance in the 21st century.
Kofi Annan, former United Nations secretary-general and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, talked about how his childhood and family background prepared him for a life of diplomacy. Annan said he realized political change was possible while growing up in Ghana during the country's independence movement. He described his father as strict and stoic. "[He] stressed character," Annan said about his father. "That character trumped everything. That you had to know what is right and what is wrong."
Excerpted from INTERVENTIONS by Kofi Annan with Nader Mousavizadeh. Reprinted by arrangement with The Penguin Press, a member of Penguin Group (USA), Inc. Copyright (c) Kofi A. Annan, 2012.